Keith Crain sees growth potential for certain diesel-powered vehicles in the United States, but he's missing half the picture. Diesels make sense for trucks and large SUVs, and they're gaining ground in passenger cars, too.
In his Dec. 17, 2001, column, "Diesel engines make a lot of sense," Crain made the case that auto manufacturers should expand the number of SUVs and other truck models available with clean diesel engines.
However, in his Jan. 27 column, "Diesels in American cars? Ridiculous," Crain reveals that his enthusiasm for diesel engines does not extend to passenger cars or small SUVs.
A number of automakers disagree and are making a significant investment in the future of clean diesel cars and small SUVs.
DaimlerChrysler will soon be testing the waters bringing diesel-powered versions of both the Mercedes Benz E-class sedan and the Jeep Liberty to the U.S. market.
And Volkswagen is already proving that diesel's benefits will attract increasing numbers of car buyers.
A just-released survey by J.D. Power and Associates confirms a large domestic market willing to consider clean diesel vehicles.
Clearly, greater use of diesel in cars, SUVs and other trucks would help reduce America's oil consumption. Diesel-powered cars achieve 20 percent to 40 percent better fuel economy than their gasoline-powered equivalents.
It's important to note that significant challenges remain to greater penetration by diesel, primarily meeting strict new Tier 2 emission standards. But diesel engineers are tackling the challenge head-on and working to meet that goal.
In an auto market that welcomes other energy-efficient options like hybrid electric and, in the future,
fuel cells, clean diesel engines should also be viewed as holding great promise for American vehicles of all sizes and should continue to be given serious consideration as a near-term strategy to reduce dependence on foreign oil.