Volkswagen Bullish On Diesels For New Fuel Efficiency Rules

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2011 Volkswagen Golf TDI

2011 Volkswagen Golf TDI

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Few people think of modern diesels as being noisy, slow and dirty any more, but diesel's traditional benefit--fuel efficiency--has been getting better all the time.

Volkswagen is a manufacturer most associated with diesels, thanks to strong sales of Jetta and Golf TDIs. And thanks to strong real-world fuel efficiency, VW really isn't worried about the future CAFE regulations.

In an interview with The Diesel Driver, Doug Skorupski--Volkswagen of America's Alternative Fuels Technical Strategy Manager--explained several factors he sees as being key to diesel's increasing adoption in the U.S.

Our guide to every 2012 and 2013 clean diesel car on sale in the U.S.

With diesels making up a fifth of VW's current sales, Doug even agrees that the fuel is almost becoming mainstream--it's no longer the preserve of a select few models like the Touareg SUV, but a major part of the company's volume sales.

It's all about getting good gas mileage without sacrificing driveability, particularly in real-world driving where many drivers are comfortably beating official EPA figures.

And predictably, VW sees diesel as being key to meeting future CAFE targets, like the 2025 54.5 mpg standard. Doug references a recent SAE government and industry conference, in which several of VW's models already meet the sliding target set for 2019--and its cars are only likely to improve in the meantime.

Diesel is beginning to catch on with other makers too, including GM and Chrysler, both of which have mainstream diesel models on the way--the Chevy Cruze diesel and Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel, specifically.

2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI Six-Month Road Test

2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI Six-Month Road Test

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While VW isn't committing to diesels alone--the recently-announced Jetta Hybrid is evidence of that, and perhaps an admission that city buyers may be more inclined towards more suitable hybrids--it will still be core to their strategy, with the dual aims of increasing economy and reducing cost. The Passat TDI, for example, is the first non-luxury mid-size diesel sedan in decades, and as such an attractive and affordable prospect for buyers looking for mid-size vehicles.

Skorupski also reveals that VW is evaluating the rest of its model range for diesel power--many models are already sold elsewhere with diesel variants. Some models may even get more than one diesel unit, just as they already do in Europe.

If VW continues to keep ahead of CAFE targets for fuel efficiency with its diesels, and buyers are prepared to trade off the extra cost of fuel and purchase price for the economy savings, then the diesel market could continue to increase for many years to come.

Either way, VW is thinking positive--"We think the future is bright for diesel," says Skorupski.

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