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America, give diesel engines a chance

I was about 7 years old when I asked my mom why a pickup truck near us was emitting black fumes and smelled so bad.

She explained it was a diesel-engine pickup. Yuck! I thought.

I was biased against diesel for a long time. Then, about five years ago, I drove a so-called clean diesel-engine car through Italy. I fell in love with the engine and the country.

So imagine my envy when Ford Motor Co. said it will launch a special diesel model of the Focus compact called the Focus ECOnetic next year in Europe.

The car, which Ford will show at the Amsterdam International Motor Show next week, uses advanced technologies that Ford says will make it more fuel efficient than any compact vehicle on the road in Europe. That includes conventional diesel-, gasoline- and hybrid-powered vehicles.

Ford says the Focus ECOnetic can achieve up to 80 mpg based on European testing, or about 67 mpg in the United States. But it’s currently not planned for this market.

And this car will also deliver ultralow CO2 emissions.

It’s another advance for diesel advocates and follows a recent University of Southern California study that found freeway air pollution from all sources is linked to brain damage in mice, including signs associated with memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease.

Now consider that the average U.S. regular gasoline price is winking at $4 a gallon, edging ever closer to the average price for diesel fuel. I have to ask: Isn’t it time Americans get educated that diesel-engines are not the dirty and smelly alternative of the past but rather a clean, cost-effective solution for the future?

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