IN THE USA, everyone is getting excited about the possible growth of diesel engines. It's almost like diesels are going to cure whatever ails you.
Make no mistake, today's diesels are very good engines. And if you live in Europe, where the price of gasoline is about three times as high as it is in the United States, a whole line of fuel-efficient diesels makes perfect sense.
True, America has different emissions standards that challenge diesels in the short term. But for the long term, Europe and North America should end up with the same emissions regulations.
Diesels clearly are practical in our pickups and sport-utilities. But once you get past the biggest of the big, diesels don't make a lot of sense in America.
In Europe, diesel fuel has a substantial price advantage over gasoline. It's the opposite in the USA. Diesel fuel costs more than gasoline here, unless you get it on the farm from the tractor tank.
In the USA, gasoline is cheaper than some bottled water. It also is plentiful. As long as that doesn't change, the chances of widespread use of diesel engines are limited.
The downside of fewer fuel stations offering diesel overshadows the improved fuel economy for most Americans.
There is a great potential in diesels for big sport-utilities and other trucks that burn a lot of fuel and need a lot of torque.
The diesel doesn't belong in a Jeep Liberty; it belongs in all ranges of the Dodge Ram.
The diesel could find a happy home in a lot of Ford, Chevrolet and GMC sport-utilities and other trucks. But so far the diesel is available only in the biggest Fords, which have Navistar diesels. Chevrolet and GMC offer their diesel only on the biggest trucks.
The idea that millions of Americans are waiting for diesel engines in their passenger cars is ridiculous. Diesel fuel is hard to find - almost impossible in urban areas. It's more expensive than gasoline.
Diesel passenger cars make sense in some parts of the world, but they don't make sense in the United States. The reason they are not available is that no one really wants them.
Let's try to get diesels in big SUVs and other light trucks where there would be a decent market. Then the auto companies can find out who in America really wants one.