U.S. Car Buyers Like Hybrids, Europeans Go For Diesels; Why?

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2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel, 2012 New York Auto Show

2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel, 2012 New York Auto Show

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If you’re a car buyer in the U.S. looking for a high gas-mileage car, the chances are you’re going to choose a hybrid car for your next vehicle. 

In Europe, however, hybrid cars are generally shunned by car buyers in preference of  high gas-mileage diesel cars.  

But why do U.S. car buyers prefer hybrids when Europeans love oil-burning diesels?

In a recent post for The Detroit News, Neil Winton suggests that cost is the primary factor. Europeans, he proposes, are more cost-conscious than their American counterparts. 

Winton’s argument, however, is missing the subtleties of some key points-- ones we’ve made before, but think are worth stating again to provide a more contextual counterpoint so you can draw your own conclusions.

Fuel prices and availability

On average, U.S. consumers pay 20 to 30 cents more per gallon of diesel than they do for a gallon of regular gasoline. 

While a few European countries, like the U.K., have a similar difference between diesel and gasoline prices, many more European countries keep diesel taxes artificially low to encourage diesel car use.

In fact, in most of Europe, including Denmark, France, Spain, Sweden and Germany, diesel is cheaper to buy than gasoline

Unlike the U.S., diesel fuel is also readily available at every gas station,  with diesel pumps located right beside those for regular and premium. 

In the U.S., roughly one half of gas stations stock diesel-- and you have to fill up out the back with the semis at most of those that do.

Lifestyle differences

In Europe, where compact and subcompact hatchbacks are favored over larger vehicles and sedans, small capacity, high-torque diesel engines offer consumers a balance between high gas mileage and practicality. 

And because European cities tend to be smaller than their American counterparts, more Europeans drive between towns and cities on their daily commute, something ideally suited to diesel engines. 

Because hybrid drivetrains require somewhere to put the traction battery pack without compromising on load-carrying capabilities, hybrid drivetrains are generally better suited to larger cars. 

Emissions standards are different

Although both the U.S. and Europe have tough gas mileage targets and emissions standards, U.S., particulate matter standards require diesel cars are fitted with expensive after-treatment equipment that pushes up the car’s sticker price. 

Generous incentives kick-started hybrid sales

Historically, U.S. and state legislature has been kind to hybrid cars. 

In fact, until December 31, 2010, anyone buying a hybrid car in the U.S. was entitled to a maximum of  $3,400 in federal tax rebates under The Energy Policy Act of 2005.

Although that particular policy, along with other incentives like HOV lane access for hybrids in California, has ended, it helped encourage the adoption of hybrids and encouraged automakers to design and build more hybrid car models. 

Because many European countries lacked similar incentives, hybrid car prices have remained high, making many consumers buy cheaper diesel-engined cars instead.

Clean Air Sticker

Clean Air Sticker

Diesel has a bad reputation in the U.S.

Thanks to largely unsuccessful attempts to introduce diesel engines into the U.S. market in the late 1970s and early 1980s in the name of fuel saving, U.S. consumers view diesel engines as slow, noisy, and smelly. 

That impression isn’t helped by the fact that diesel is the fuel of choice for heavy-duty vehicles, including larger pickup trucks, farm machinery, and 18-wheelers.

Hopefully, however, that impression should change, with more and more U.S. automakers than ever before promising highly-efficient, cleaner diesel cars over the next few years.

Different requirements, different outcomes

Ultimately, lifestyle differences, fuel costs, and even legislature have all played a part in the current mix of diesel vs hybrid car sales in the U.S. and Europe. 

But what do you think? Why are diesels so loved by Europeans, and shunned by U.S. buyers? 

And why to hybrids have a similar problem in Europe? 

Let us know in the Comments below


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Comments (131)
  1. So since diesel engines are more efficient, why don't they introduce a diesel hybrid which would provide the highest fuel efficiency numbers? I would think that would help justify the cost difference here in the US.

  2. I have been wondering exactly the same thing.

  3. Diesel engines can be modified to run on vegie oil or even Compressed Natural Gas. Why the established car makers persue using diesel fuel is beyond me. Having a diesel hybrid with the engine running on natural gas is relatively easy to do. In my opinion, I guess the car makers are a bit like dinosaurs and feed of dinosaur juice.

  4. A natural gas/hybrid vehicle has one major problem: Space. The battery takes up a lot of space, as does the large, heavy high-pressure CNG tank. Busses often have CNG engines, but they have lots of space for the CNG tank.

  5. There is not so many models yet but for example Volvo has one.

  6. For whatever it is worth, Diesel is readily available in the Boston area at the same pumps as gasoline.

    The author is asking "why" is it this way, but I want to know "what" is the right direction.

    I have heard all the performance and reliability arguments in favor of diesel, and don't really wish to dispute them (although the Prius is highly reliable). But what about the environmental concerns.

    178 g CO2/mile Prius
    299 g CO2/mile Passat TDI
    The Diesel produces 68% more CO2

    9 smog rating Prius (10 is the best)
    6 smog rating Passat TDI

    Granted the Prius does not accurately represent all hybrids nor the Passat, all Diesels. But the diesel advantage for the environment seems a tough sell.

  7. To really understand how diesel pollutes less, we would have to have the same model of a vehicle (like for example TOYOTA Camry) in three different versions:

    - hybrid
    - gasoline only
    - clean diesel

    and then compare the emissions.

    Right now, VW vehicles are the only ones being compared to a TOYOTA Prius, which is in essence a small city car, whereas the Jetta and the Passat are general-purpose vehicles. So it is not an "apples to apples" comparison.

  8. Perhaps you have not had the chance to be in a Prius, but it is definitely NOT a small city car.

    The Prius and Passat are both "mid-size" cars as classified by the EPA. That is the reason I did the comparison that way. Apples-to-Apples.

    The Jetta is actually classified as a "compact" car and thus smaller than the Prius. So according the EPA numbers the Jetta is both smaller and much more polluting than the Prius. Of course, the Jetta is also probably a nicer car to drive.

  9. The Jetta SportWagen is only slightly shorter than a '94 Caprice. It is not a small car by any measure, it is a large vehicle.

  10. Well if you think the Jetta is a "large vehicle" then you must think the Prius is as well. The Prius has a 5 inch longer wheelbase and is only 3 inches shorter in length.

    In any case, The Prius is not "small city car".

  11. The '12 Passat is a much bigger car than the Prius. It might be better to compare the 2012 Jetta to the Prius as it is closer to the same size inside. The Passat is very nearly the same size as the Camry.

  12. @Jim: The footprint of the 2012 Passat is larger than that of the Prius, and it has 8 cu ft more interior volume but 6 cu ft less luggage space:
    - Prius: 94 cu ft (interior) + 22 cu ft (cargo) = 116 cu ft
    - Passat: 102 cu ft (interior) + 16 cu ft (cargo) = 118 cu ft

    Both are categorized by the EPA as mid-size cars (110 to 119 cubic feet): http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/info.shtml#sizeclasses

    So in terms of interior volume (space for people and stuff), they're less different than they appear.

  13. From where did you get those figures, because those don't fit at all to what I can find? Those are totally wrong, Passat TDI produces 114g/km CO2 which is 183g/mile. And actually you are comparing wrong car, Jetta would be more of same size as Prius is. Jetta TDI produces 109g/km CO2 which is 175g/mile. And for example one Golf model has 99g/km value which is 159g/mile.

  14. On the issue of diesel, would someone be able to explain or have a good link to explain how diesel is "green?" I know it is a more energy dense fuel than gasoline and so you can get higher mileage with it, but does it really pollute less than gasoline when taking everything (such as refining) into account?

  15. Yes, it pollutes less because when you do the calculations, you end up polluting the same or less than a gasoline or hybrid car, but meanwhile you have covered a longer distance. If you were to cover the same distance in a hybrid or a gasoline car as you would have in a diesel one, you would end up polluting more. That is crux of the matter.

  16. I've tried to find some info myself just now and the main points I find are that 1) diesel engines are in general somewhat more efficient than a regular gasoline engine in generating mechanical energy from fuel. 2)Diesel fuel is more energy dense, but takes more energy to refine.
    From what I read, you may be producing less C02 than a comparable gasoline car per mile in the end, but probably more than, or at least hardly less than a good comparable hybrid and there are some other pollutants that diesels create more of. I am just not really convinced diesel is really much of a step up, pollution-wise.

  17. "2)Diesel fuel is more energy dense, but takes more energy to refine."

    That does not make sense, since diesel is the third tier product (tar being the first, "bunker oil" being second). Gasoline is produced from heating up diesel even further, so it actually takes more energy to produce gasoline.

  18. It looks complicated. But I did find this link with the statement.

    "The paper’s conclusions show that the energy efficiencies of LPG, gasoline, and distillate (diesel and jet) products should be considered equal."


    Looks like gasoline and diesel are produced together in a series of complex steps and the best analysis shows the efficiency of production to be about the same.

  19. Comment disabled by moderators.

  20. They are coming, though no initially to the states. Mercedes has the E300 BlueTEC hybrid.


    The article quotes:

    A chief challenge to creating a viable parallel diesel hybrid system has been overcoming the sheer costs to the buyer. The adage goes: "expensive diesel + expensive hybrid = expensive diesel hybrid."

  21. Because the way the game inside of these corporations is rigged right now, no manager will dare to rock the boat, lest it affect their bonus, stock options and political points. It's all a game to them. Only when the order comes from the very top of the organization might something get done.

    Examples of this are VW AG (order came directly from the top), and a counterexample is Ford (CEO is clueless about diesels, middle management is clueless about diesels, nobody wants to risk spearheading the introduction of Ford Duratorq diesel models in the U.S.)

    It's great!

  22. "In the U.S., roughly one half of gas stations stock diesel-- and you have to fill up out the back with the semis at most of those that do."

    So what? When I come to a refueling station, I come to obtain fuel. What difference does it make which part of the refueling facility I have to use?

  23. @Annatar: There are consumers--some women, for instnace--who would be happy to drive diesels but prefer not to have to fuel up in a dirtier part of the station next to a 40-foot long semi. Others won't find that a drawback, but some will.

  24. Wow sexist comment John. Didn't expect that from you.

    Anyway, I think the case is overstated. Here in Boston at least, Diesel seems available at the same pumps as gasoline.

  25. @John: Dunno if it's sexist or not. My mother and a handful of women friends have told me that they're fine using regular pumps (though they tend to loathe going to gas stations in general, so are likely future candidates for plug-in cars) but are not comfortable fueling up around semis.

    I said "some" not all women. I'm sure there are many women who would be fine with it. And no doubt there are some men who may feel the same way too.

  26. The assumption here is that truck fueling stations are dirtier than gasoline ones.

    However, there are plenty of "regular" fueling stations in the United States where diesel is just another pump. Even the nozzles are smaller, designed to fit into cars. For example, where I live we have two "regular" refueling facilities which are not designed for large trucks and have diesel pumps, not five minute of driving from where I live.

    I think that is just a myth, an illogical myth at that. Let us not have another "perception is reality".

  27. @Annatar: See comment above to John Briggs. Also, I don't know where you live, but the majority of separated diesel-truck fueling areas I've used over the years all across the U.S. are visibly grimier and have more spilled fuel than the consumer gasoline pumps (in part because diesel stains while gasoline mostly evaporates).

  28. Well Annatar as a resident in a country where every station has diesel in the normal lanes invariably there are oily spills around those pumps and I avoid them at all costs.I have worked around diesel equipment and it's nasty stuff in not contained.

  29. Try lining up behind 2 or 3 tractor trailers that take hundreds of litres of fuel. 30 minute waits are not pleasant. We have lots of diesel stations in Canada thankfully, but the odd time I've had to go "out back" sucked, a lot.

  30. "And because European cities tend to be smaller than their American counterparts, more Europeans drive between towns and cities on their daily commute, something ideally suited to diesel engines."

    Wow, that is completely bogus. Since we are going on about data, where is the data to support this claim?

    People are running away from cities and living in hamlets and villages because the cities are becoming crowded megalopolises, not because they are "smaller then their U.S. counterparts".

    A perfect example of this is Muenchen (Munich): people live as far away as 45 minute U.S. drive in villages and hamlets because Muenchen is so big and crowded. Ditto for Stuttgart, Frankfurt am Main, Zuerich...

  31. I'll tell you why diesel cars are so popular in Europe:

    - they are cheaper to operate
    - they are simpler than their gasoline and hybrid counterparts
    - they are usually more luxurious then their gasoline equivalents

    And the final point: the modern clean diesels they have over there are more performant than gasoline and hybrids. Those cars are bullets on wheels!

  32. "Although both the U.S. and Europe have tough gas mileage targets and emissions standards, U.S., particulate matter standards require diesel cars are fitted with expensive after-treatment equipment that pushes up the car’s sticker price."

    That has already changed. EU introduced the Euro VI norm which is au-pair to EPA's Tier II bin 5. Some manufacturers like mazda already have production models with clean diesel engines which require no Urea aftertreatment or any other "expensive aftertreatment".

    mazda's Sky-D clean diesel achieves this with atypically long headers, which cools down gasses and reduces NOx without the need to expensive aftertreatment systems. The engine has been designed to be both Euro VI and EPA Tier II bin 5 compliant.

  33. @Annatar: While that's true about the Mazda Sky-D engine in Europe and Asia, it has not yet been launched in the States, so we don't know whether it will use urea injection or not.

    The only other diesels in the U.S. not to use urea are the Golf and Jetta TDI models, which squeak in under the limits. And GM plans to use urea for its 2014 Cruze Diesel in the U.S., despite not using it on the 2.0-liter diesel in Europe. FYI.

  34. Even for these modern "clean" diesels in the USA, the EPA smog rating still makes it clear that the diesel, while much improved, are more polluting than hybrids.

  35. No it does not. It does not make anything clear at all.

    And I really do not want any hybrid / anti-diesel propaganda being spread around, it is bad enough that I cannot buy the diesel cars I want here in the U.S., the last thing I need is being stuck with a crappy gasoline-electric hybrid with obsolete technology from the last century.

  36. Let us assume that Diesel does NOT generate more emission (which is very arguable). It does NOT have any regenative braking. So, during those usages, Diesel will BE DIRTIER.

    Just about every hybrids and EVs out there can recoup up to 60% of its energy during braking and downhill. Those are the energy lost in diesel cars.

  37. @Annatar: Is it the electrified drive in a hybrid car, or the combustion of diesel fuel, that's the "obsolete technology from the last century"? I'm confused.

    Certainly a diesel engine better fits that description than hybrids, which weren't built in volume until 1997.

  38. You have yet to provide even ONE scrap of data to counter the EPA data provided. Without that data, I would suggest you have ZERO proof of anything you have said.

    So I think that you should use the term "propaganda" carefully. Particularly when you falsely claim that the Prius is a "small city car" when it is, in fact (by EPA rules), a mid-size car.

  39. There are more comments in this thread
  40. I know, because I have studied that engine in-depth. It will not need Urea injection, and in fact mazda has stressed that in the context of U.S. several times.

  41. "And GM plans to use urea for its 2014 Cruze Diesel in the U.S., despite not using it on the 2.0-liter diesel in Europe. FYI."

    That is a new one. Do you mind writing an in-depth article on that?

    Last information I have is that a virtual team from Pontiac, MI, Germany and Torin were working on noise dampening. Nothing on Urea injection. I would be interested to read more.

    Also, if you could find more technical diagrams and designs of the engine and include that in the article, that would be great. For example, how many points are in the injectors, how many injectors, how high is the fuel pressure? What are the reliability figures from agenices like ADAC? The engine in the Cruze has been in production for several years now.

  42. @Annatar: It was in this article:
    and it came directly from the mouth of the man at GM who oversees all small-car development.

    He didn't release the diagrams, etc., that you would like to see. But I'm fairly confident he knows what he's talking about.

  43. That is not much detail; in fact, that is very poor on detail. I want technical diagrams of the engine, specifications. When I can look at the implementation details, that tells me what I have in front of me. Unfortunately, most of the article is PR, and very scarce on technical details.

    I need more information fit for an automechanic or even better an engineer to be able to see how good or bad that engine is.

  44. @Annatar: If you want specifications, diagrams, and the like for an engine under development for a car that hasn't yet been released, I'd suggest you ask GM for them. I certainly don't have access to them.

    However, I gave you what you originally asked for: the source of the information that GM would use urea injection on the 2014 Cruze Diesel.

    Your very, very passionate posts on the merits of diesel engines under all possible circumstances, combined with demands for diagrams, specifications, and other detail--along with the claim that you've studied the Sky-D engine "in depth"--make me curious: Do you work with diesel engines professionally? In what capacities?

  45. Put a small diesel in the Volt, restyle it so it’s not ugly, make it a crossover so it’s not ramped, put a better interior in it... and now you’re talking the ideal vehicle.

  46. Brilliant, Richard. Make the car a crossover, change the powertrain 100%, change the interior, etc... Perhaps GM should just build a different vehicle? Ever heard of an Equinox or SRX?

  47. My personally feeling is... comments that include a reference to a car being ugly are annoying. Such judgements are subjective. Certainly there are a lot of cars out there that some call "sexy" and I call "hideous". You may not like Volt's styling, but a lot of people DO. There are a lot of stylistically challenged cars out there. If you don't care for the styling, that's not a referendum on the car as a whole. As for the interior, mine has leather and all the add-ons, so other than stepping up to a Cadillac ELR, there is nothing at all wrong with the Volt interior... In my opinion. Again, certainly highly subjective. You not liking it doesn't make it bad. And count me OUT of the diesel engine too, please. :)

  48. US prefer Hybrid b/c hybrid has low emission. Hybrid on average are cleaner and price comparable. Diesel are cheaper in EU, but with US emission requirement, it usually add couple thousands to the cost which makes it less appealing.
    Also, Diesel cost about 10% more than regular gas and its mpg is comparable to the hybrids in the US.
    Hybrid also comes with REGEN which Diesels do NOT. So, in congested city traffic or traffic jams of US, hybrids are FAR MORE efficient in low speed "crawl"...

  49. "Hybrid also comes with REGEN which Diesels do NOT."

    There is no technical reason why a diesel car could not have regenerative braking.

    Consider this: a hybrid must recoup some of the energy through braking to be competitive with a diesel car which does not use any additional aids. What does that tell you about the diesel car?

    And besides, diesel engines are near-indistructible. getting 500,000 km out of a diesel engine is expected. My other diesel just started to break in at 80,000 km.

  50. So, if you addd "Regen", then the cost of the diesel system will be even higher. By adding "regen", it becomes a "hybrid" system. (It doesn't have to be battery based).

    Aid? Diesel has higher compression than typical gasoline engine. That is why it is MORE EXPENSIVE to make b/c all the internal components have to be stronger.

    As far as "durability" goes, it varies between brands. The Ford Powerstroke diesel certainly can't compare with Toyota's 4 banger in durability.

    But if you make them stronger, then it will last longer...
    Unless you use bio-diesel or special low sulfur diesel, diesel are heavier and dirtier fuel comparing with gasoline.

    Comparing MPG is silly, it is similar to comparing CNG to gasoline.

  51. "Aid? Diesel has higher compression than typical gasoline engine. That is why it is MORE EXPENSIVE to make b/c all the internal components have to be stronger."

    Huh! Is that why the Subaru boxer diesel and the mazda Sky-D diesels are actually LIGHTER in weight than their gasoline counterparts?

    You sure either have your share of misconceptions about modern diesel engine technology, or you are maliciously spreading propaganda. Which one of the two is it? Or is it both?

  52. "Huh! Is that why the Subaru boxer diesel and the mazda Sky-D diesels are actually LIGHTER in weight than their gasoline counterparts?"

    You don't understand this? Weight doesn't equal strength. Higher grade steel, better pistons and shaft with alloys can be lighter. Number of Valves and block configuration make a difference too.

    I don't have those diesel here in the US to look at the parts myself.

    Also, how much lighter? show me the numbers.

    Those so called "modern diesel" engine will probably NOT passing California's CARB requirement without expensive emission upgrade. That is why.

    I don't have misconceptions. There are facts. NOT a single "clean" diesel can meet CARB's requirement for the AT-PZEV or PZEV designation!!

  53. Annatar the higher compression of the diesel would be a detriment to regen since it would add to the drag on deceleration. This would make regen output less efficient.

  54. There is a technical reason why diesels don't have regen, that would make them a hybrid, which you seem to object to.

    Only Peugot has combined diesel and hybrid in to a car. I am not sure what the issues are, but I suspect hybrid adds cost and diesel adds more cost, so the combination may provide ultimate MPG but poor ROI.

  55. There are two issues with "Parallel" diesel hybrid without large battery backup.

    1. Cost. Diesel engine cost more along with complex emission system. Plus additional electric motor, controller and battery. (or you can use the hydrulic or the spinning wheels, both have limitations and trade offs).

    2. Diesels don't like frequent start/stop mode in today's full hybrid. Even the Volt with series-hybrid mode use frequent start/stop to maximize efficiency.

  56. "There is a technical reason why diesels don't have regen, that would make them a hybrid, which you seem to object to."

    I object LESS to it, although that is still too complex. And the new mazda6 diesel does have the "i-Eloop" which uses regenerative braking.

    I do not want to see gasoline-electric sedan automatics running around; I want to be able to buy any given make and model car with several different modern diesel engine choices and manual transmissions here in the U.S., like I was able to do in Europe. That is what I want. The last thing I need is being stuck in a gasoline hybrid automatic sedan.

  57. A large part of the problem of offering multiple engine options in vehicles is that each engine/transmission pair must undergo a 50,000 mile durability test to meet EPA standards. In other words, with two engines and two trannys, that's four 50,000 mile tests. Add another engine, and now you have six tests to run. This gets expensive.

  58. Comment disabled by moderators.

  59. "So, in congested city traffic or traffic jams of US, hybrids are FAR MORE efficient in low speed "crawl"...

    I still get 35-38 MPG in the city, and don't think twice about it.

    Also, most of the United States comprises of vast, vast expanses of flat highways, and a lot of people commute about 35-45 minutes on the average on the highway.

    Somehow we have forgotten that most people in the United States do not live in the cities, but in suburban and metropolitan areas. Those that live in the cities do not even need a car. There is grave concern in the automotive industry over generation Y, because they stick to the city core so they would not have to drive. Your point seems very moot or highly dubious at best.

  60. Most hybrid in your comparable size are getting 45-50mpgs in the city by the EPA...

    What you are getting has "no bearing" in this arguement...

    75% of the people drive less than 40 miles per day. Most of that are congested hwy full of cars going 35 mph...

  61. Nooo, I do not believe you. Show me the data from department of transportation, then you can make that claim and I will believe you. Otherwise, it is anti-diesel propaganda.

  62. Which one? 45-50mpg or the 75% drive less than 40 miles per day.

    An easy search on EPA website will give you the first and second one can be easily searched on Google.

    If you don't know how to use the internet, then I can show you... Give it a try before you whine...

  63. Another impassioned argument easily negated by EPA data.

    EPA has studied this and 55% of driving in the USA is city driving and 45% is highway driving.

    This combination is factored in to the way that EPA calculates combined MPG. Poor city MPG is what makes the diesel so polluting in these calculations.

    30 mpg city Passat Diesel
    51 mpg city Toyota Prius
    making the Prius 70% more fuel efficient in the city.

    Data Data Data. It is a stubborn thing.

    But I am sure more impassioned argument will show up soon.

  64. Show me the data.

  65. "But I am sure more impassioned argument will show up soon."

    Maybe you should ask yourself, why would people be so impassioned about clean diesel cars, and be so much against gasoline hybrids, if, as you propagate, clean diesels are worse than gasoline hybrids. What is it that would make someone be a clean-diesel fanatic?

  66. b/c they can't see the fact that how clean diesel is depends on heavily of how clean the diesel fuel is...

  67. Also, the European cities are far more congested, yet hybrids have made zero inroads there. Most people drive diesels, especially in the cities. How is it that it works for them?

    If the hybrids are so great, why aren't Europeans buying them en masse? Why do they buy more and more diesels year-over-year?

  68. B/c diesel fuel and diesel engine option is cheaper in EU. Also, EU has LOWER diesel requirement in smog requirement that makes the diesel engine cheaper than the US version. Not to mention that diesel are rarely as clean as hybrids before its emission system is warmed up. Also, US diesel cost at least 10% more than unlead regular gas.

  69. "B/c diesel fuel and diesel engine option is cheaper in EU."

    2.0 L gasoline engine, 22,510 UKP
    2.2 L diesel engine, 23,685 UKP

    gasoline emissions, CO2: 159 g/km
    diesel emissions, CO2: 141 g/km

    But yeah, "diesel cars are cheaper". Data, data, data...
    Source: mazda.co.uk

    "Also, EU has LOWER diesel requirement in smog requirement that makes the diesel engine cheaper than the US version."

    Newsflash: Euro VI norm is coming into effect in 2014, and it will be as stringent as Tier II bin 5.

    "Not to mention that diesel are rarely as clean as hybrids before its emission system is warmed up."

    How much do you know about auto mechanics?

    "Also, US diesel cost at least 10% more than unlead regular gas."

    So what? You still end up ahead.

  70. You wrote:

    ""B/c diesel fuel and diesel engine option is cheaper in EU."
    2.0 L gasoline engine, 22,510 UKP
    2.2 L diesel engine, 23,685 UKP

    Maybe I wasn't clear. I said "DIESEL ENGINE OPTION" is cheaper. It meant relatively cheaper. In your example, Diesel only added $1,300 and it gets better MPG. In the US, the diesel option adds $3,000 or more.


    VW Golf: $18K gas (23/33mpg)vs. $24k diesel (30/42mpg)
    VW Jetta: $19K gas (24/34mpg) vs. $23K diesel (30/42mpg)
    VW Passat: $25k gas (22/32mpg) vs. $29k diesel
    VW Beetle: $20k gas (22/31) vs. $23K diesel (28/41)
    VW Touareg: $43k gas (17/23) vs. $46k diesel (20/29)
    BMW X5: $50k gas (16/23) vs. $57k diesel (19/26)

  71. "How much do you know about auto mechanics?"

    Clearly I know when the temperature of the cats affect your emission.

    Somehow YOU FAILED to understand the emission is MORE THAN CO2. Whether CO2 is even an emission is arguable. The emission I was mentioning are NO, CO and various "smog" generating gas which Diesel produces at higher amount.

    CO2/Km "seems" to be better due to the higher MPG. But for the Same amount of miles, diesel produces more NOx, CO and particulate soot (which can be filtered out).

    Your Newsflash is 2014. You asked why US buyers do NOT buy it now. We don't pre-pay our cars for 2014 model. We will see how your "increased" standards affect your diesel price.

  72. Well, 10% fuel premium plus the $3k or more upfront engine premium turns away many owners from buying a diesel car that only increase efficiency by 25%.

  73. "@Annatar: Is it the electrified drive in a hybrid car, or the combustion of diesel fuel, that's the "obsolete technology from the last century"? I'm confused."

    It is the gasoline engine that is obsolete technology from last century.

    Diesel engines have seen tremendous improvements and optimizations in the past twenty years, while gasoline development stood still. Just look at the technical details of an engine like TOYOTA D-4D, a previous version of the mazda diesel engines, or even the current Sky-D, or the Subaru boxer diesel, and you can see where the engine development is headed.

    Have you studied any of those designs in depth?

  74. A better question would be why can't you read numbers? I love diesels and have owned two myself, but to claim that disels have lower emissions than hybrids is just nonsense, as EPA and other figures demonstsrate conclusively. Help me out again, which has lower emissions again, Prius or Jetta diesel?

    Diesels are much better at driving dynamics than most hybrids, yes, but a one-minute look at EPA data shows much lower emissions for hybrids than diesels. Feel free to actually respond with any data point showing a diesel sold in N.A. with lower emissions than a comparably-sized hybrid.

    Nobody's here to send you engine diagrams, get them on your own. Others have pointed out data showing you're wrong so you change the subject ad nauseum.

  75. "Help me out again, which has lower emissions again, Prius or Jetta diesel?"

    Prius has marginally lower emissions, but it is also smaller.

    If I stick a battery pack and an electric motor on the Jetta SportWagen diesel, so that there is a level playing field, which one of the two do you think will have lower emissions, the Prius or the Jetta?

    Also, how do you explain that mazda6 diesel has lower CO2 emissions than mazda6 gasoline version?

  76. Diesel fan wrote:" Prius has marginally lower emissions, but it is also smaller."

    Did you look up the numbers or just made it up?

    Here is some "google" work for you:
    Jetta Diesel vs Prius

    MPG: (30/42 vs 51/48)
    (units are in inches unless other wise noted)
    Frt Head room: 38.2 vs 38.6
    Frt leg room: 41.2 vs 42.5
    Frt shoulder room: 55.2 vs 54.9
    Rear head room: 37.1 vs 37.6
    Rear leg room: 38.1 vs 36
    Rear shoulder room: 53.6 vs 53.1
    Width: 70 vs 68.7
    Height: 57.2 vs 58.7
    Length: 182.2 vs 176.4
    Front Track: 60.7 vs 60
    Rear track: 60.6 vs 59.8
    Wheel Base: 104.4 vs 106.3
    Cargo: 15.5 vs 21.6 cu ft

    EPA interior Volume: 109.6 cu ft vs. 115.3 cu ft.

    By those numbers, I would say they are about the same size.

  77. Well I would not. In some numbers, the Prius is marginally bigger, in most numbers you have cited, it is marginally smaller. Prius was designed to be a small city car, and that is what it is. That was also the original intent of the project. If you don't believe it, read about it in books on TOYOTA.

    Why are you pushing a vehicle which clearly has no future and which was designed with the intent on being a transitional measure to begin with? What, you actually like driving an ugly vehicle with an automatic transmission and a gasoline engine? Well, I do not. It is disgusting. And you and your "kruzhok" of supporters keep comparing apples and oranges, a big and heavy Jetta station wagon with a small Prius. Small!

  78. And I note that so far, nobody has been able to explain how a diesel mazda6 has lower emissions than a gasoline one.

  79. B/c Mazda's gas engine sucks...

  80. There are more comments in this thread
  81. "If I stick a battery pack and an electric motor on the Jetta SportWagen diesel, so that there is a level playing field, which one of the two do you think will have lower emissions, the Prius or the Jetta?"

    If I stick a bigger battery into the Prius and turn it into a bigger Plugin Prius, which one will have "lower emission"?

  82. You answered a question with a question. If the diesel Jetta is hybridized, will it beat the Prius in emissions? I think you know the answer, it will beat it easily by a wide margin.

    Now, also nobody has answered why there are fanatical clean diesel supporters like myself, but there are no gasoline hybrid fanatics here.

    What is it about the clean diesel that would turn people into enthusiasts and proponents? Who here can answer me that?

  83. Really?

    I would call John C Briggs a Fanatical Prius fan (hybrid). I would call myself a fanatical EREV/plugin hybrid fan.

  84. " If the diesel Jetta is hybridized, will it beat the Prius in emissions? I think you know the answer, it will beat it easily by a wide margin."

    If the diesel Jetta is hybridized (extra cost) and you put that extra cost and complexity (which you complained about) into extra battery size into the Prius Plugin, you will have lower average emission than the diesel version.

    Like I said in the other comment, CO2 is only one of the emission measurement.

  85. There are more comments in this thread
  86. "how do you explain that mazda6 diesel has lower CO2 emissions than mazda6 gasoline version? "
    Easy, Diesel produces 15% more in greenhouse gases than gasoline on per litter basis, but since it is 20-40% more efficient (partly due to that diesel contain 2,778 g of carbon per gallon vs. gasoline contain 2,421 g of carbon per gallon and higher compression).
    The emssion is based on CO2 per miles traveled. But it failed to list all the other emission such as Particular matter, Carbon monoxide, Nitrogen Oxides, Hydrocarbons and VOCs emission.

  87. "In the U.S., roughly one half of gas stations stock diesel-- and you have to fill up out the back with the semis at most of those that do."

    This is a completely ridiculous statement and really dubious reporting. Anybody who has actually owned a diesel knows this is is crazy talk, Nikki.

  88. @Jim: The latest data I've seen (probably 2 or 3 years old now) show that roughly half of U.S. stations offer diesel fuel as well as gasoline. Those on Interstates and in rural areas all do, but many suburban stations don't, since there are fewer heavy trucks in largely residential areas--especially affluent suburbs. There may be regional variations too.

    I've seen no data on how many diesel stations have it on the main islands versus out back where there's room for big trucks to maneuver. My guess is roughly half, based on having visited several hundred U.S. gas stations over 30 years--but that's my estimate.

    So that's our reasoning. What's "completely ridiculous" about that, please?

  89. Sorry, the "out back" part of the statement is what I meant to call out. It is exceedingly rare to be forced to fuel at a station where your only choice it to fuel with the big rigs. Diesel stations are everywhere and green handle pumps are right next to the gasoline ones. It just struck me as blatant anti-diesel propoganda.

  90. Jim, I think the numbers are a little outdated, but not by as much as you would think. When a friend and I drove a Jetta TDi from CA to MI in 2006, most gas stations where we stopped to fill up were the semi-friendly places John V. described. Still very common in rural areas.

    But in urban/suburbn areas, diesel certainly seems to be far more available than 5-10 years ago, although this is just from visual evidence and I don't claim to have data.

  91. @Jim: I'm curious: Where do you live where this is the case?

    I drive most often throughout New York state, in Detroit, and in both the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas. My experience applies to those areas, but I've also driven in perhaps 30 other cities over the last five years.

    So I'm curious to know where it is that diesel fuel is available "everywhere" and it's always on the same islands as gasoline.

    And I'd be curious to have other readers weigh in on this too, because you're the first person in three years to have questioned this statement--which we often put in our articles on diesels to set the context.

  92. I live in San Antonio. I have put over 100K on TDI's in the last 10 years and have never once had any issue finding fuel. I could also count on one hand the amount of times I've had to refuel with big rigs.

  93. I've actually been driving Mercedes and VW diesels in general for 28 years and I've never once had to go looking for fuel.

  94. Best analogy I can come up with is that when you actually buy a diesel you become aware of where to fuel just like when you have an electric car like I do. I'm sure EV drivers are asked often if it is a worrisome problem to find a place to plug in and of course, they say no since most plug in at home or at work. When you actually own a diesel vehicle, fuel availability becomes a non issue. It's also pretty hard to run out when you have 500 miles or more to think about it.

  95. Diesel powered cars produce lower CO2 emissions per mile than comparably sized conventional gasoline fueled vehicles. When campared to hybrids of the same size, the CO2 emissions of both are in the same range. However, when you consider smog-forming emissions (NOx. CO, and HC), gasoline and gasoline hybrids quite often meet California's strict SULEV and PZEV emission standards. No currently available diesels can meet these standards, even with Urea injection. The cleanest diesels only meet ULEV standards. The bottom line: diesels are roughly as efficient as hybrids, but are far more polluting than nybrids or many conventional gasoline vehicles.

  96. Exactly. That is what most Diesel supporters failed to recognize. CO2 is only the factor that they keep bring up without mentioning any of the other "smog" generating emission.

    Although "bio-diesel" will have lower emission in terms of NOx, CO and HC in comparing with regular diesel.

  97. Actually, I thought about this some more. You main point relies on the assumption that environment pollution is the only thing that matters.

    The problem with that assumption comes from that fact that most people care only about how much money they spend on fuel, and how much performance and space their vehicle has, not whether it produces more or less CO2 and NOx.

    Take me for example: there is just no way that I am ever going to buy a gasoline hybrid vehicle; I might buy a hybridized diesel, but a gasoline hybrid - it just is not going to happen, no matter how "clean" it is.

    When you add to that that a clean diesel has much more power and torque than a car like TOYOTA Prius, it's the last nail in gasoline hybrid's coffin.

  98. Not necessarily true. Plugin hybrids can have a lot more torque and with more electric drives involved...

  99. The reason Europeans prefer diesel over hybrid is because they actually have the freedom to choose from a wide variety of diesels. In the US you're basically limited to a few luxury cars (Mercedes, BMW, Audi) or a VW. When there are more models to choose from, you will find US drivers falling in love with them as well.

  100. Talking about pollution :
    -to change the battery after 100K is a form of pollution because of discarding the old battery. Where does it go? Anyone figured out a solution to recycle or reuse them yet?
    - all the money you save on gas,you will spend on the battery of $4,000.-

    Safety :
    -Prius is made of weak metrial. Who wants to drive in something like Coke cans?!
    - You can't compare safety of the Prius with a VW Jetta TDi.

    Pollution of the Diesel: - because in the US the quality of Diesel is very poor.
    In Europe one can buy 3 different grades of Diesel, and it is of higher quality and runs better; as such, it's much cleaner as well.

  101. @Gabor: To rebut your points ...

    (1) Toyota and all other hybrid makers have programs in place to recycle old, damaged, or removed hybrid battery packs. They are disassembled and in large part the components, including precious metals, are reused or recycled. They do not go to landfills.

    (2) Your figure of $4,000 for replacing a hybrid battery is inaccurate. For instance:

    (continued ... )

  102. (continuing)

    (3) The Toyota Prius is rated "Good" (the highest rating) and a "Top Safety Pick" by the IIHS. So are the 5-door VW Golf and the VW Jetta. The NHTSA gives the Prius two 5-star & two 4-star ratings; it gives the Jetta one 5-star & three 4-star ratings.

    Comparing the safety of the Prius to the safety of the Jetta with actual data--instead of just your assertions--shows that the Prius is rated slightly MORE safe than the Jetta by the organizations that do crash testing.

    (continued ...)

  103. (continuing)

    (4) This site covers U.S.-market cars, so that's what we base our comparisons on. Perhaps you can buy several grades of diesel in Europe, but it's irrelevant for U.S. buyers.

    U.S. diesel is now low-sulfur, but I am told the blends have higher variability than in European diesel. That may be regrettable, yet it's the situation that diesel-car makers must contend with.

    And as discussed at great length in other comments, the CO2 emissions from a Prius are lower than those of a Jetta TDI. Also, the Jetta TDI emits more CO, HC, NOx & particulate matter.

    There are many valid reasons for preferring diesels. But please try to keep to published facts when stating them, eh?

  104. "(4) This site covers U.S.-market cars, so that's what we base our comparisons on. Perhaps you can buy several grades of diesel in Europe, but it's irrelevant for U.S. buyers."

    Just a second here! The website title says:

    "Green Car Reports
    the ultimate guide to cleaner, greener driving"

    Nowhere does it say "U.S. only: everybody else stay away."

  105. @Annatar: Of course it doesn't say "everybody else stay away". We are happy to have readers from anywhere.

    But we cover only U.S. market cars. If readers from other places want to read about them--and contribute viewpoints, as you clearly do--we're happy to have them.

  106. Prius is made of weak material?

    I think you might want to check the safety ratings on the Prius, and compare it with the Jetta. Similar case for other hybrids, such as the Camry.

  107. actually Prius is rated better than Jetta in crash ratings..

  108. The new 2013 VW Golf TDi BLUEMOTION 73.5 MPG

    Which Hybrid can beat that ?

  109. @Gabor: As we said in our coverage of this car:

    The "73.5-mpg" figure is from a European test cycle that produces much higher numbers than the EPA test cycles used for U.S. ratings. It may be possible that the 2013 Golf TDI BlueMotion could achieve a combined EPA rating of 40 mpg or more, but we won't know that unless it's tested on the U.S. cycle.

    That new TDI BlueMotion also won't be sold here. Among other reasons, its performance would likely not meet U.S. expectations. So unfortunately, we'll likely never know for sure how it would do on U.S. tests vs. the 50-mpg Prius.

  110. We also know from experience that the EPA testing is flawed. And there is no documentation on EPA's methodology that I know of, those are two strikes against the EPA.

    EPA ratings are more like orientation measurings, but are they to be trusted? No way. Absolutely not!

  111. @Annatar: In the experience of most auto journalists, EPA combined ratings for gasoline cars are relatively accurate for average usage. Some manufacturers seem to game the tests a little more than others, but overall, for gasoline cars, the combined gas-mileage rating is a realistic number.

    As we point out consistently on this site, VW Group TDI cars often exceed their EPA ratings.

    But, are you proposing that EPA ratings overall are "flawed" and not to be trusted--while those from Asian and European rating agencies are not flawed, and trustworthy? If so, why?

  112. Yes, I am. I do not know about Asian rating agencies, but I do maintain, again based on several years' worth of measurements, that European ratings are on target, and EPA ratings are wrong. Very wrong.

    Therefore, I maintain that EPA's testing results are incorrect and not to be relied upon.

  113. "The new 2013 VW Golf TDi BLUEMOTION 73.5 MPG Which Hybrid can beat that ? "

    Just about every EV/EREV/Plugin Hybrid can beat that in real world and or EPA testing with US gallon adjusted...

  114. Yeah, you go ahead and drive a Prius. I'll stick to 300 footpounds of torque from 1,800 RPM all the way to the redline while getting 50 MPG, with a six speed manual transmission, while you put-put around in that Prius automatic. Good luck with that.

  115. @Annatar: Different qualities of different cars appeal to different people.

    You apparently value torque, manual transmissions, and claimed fuel efficiency of 50 mpg. Others have different sets of values.

    But IMHO, and as the site moderator, sneering at the choices made by those folks who don't believe what you do isn't going to be an effective way to convince some of them to come over to your point of view.

  116. C'mon, Annatar, for post after post you insisted that the emissions for diesel were lower than hybrids, but after being proven completely wrong, with that pesky data you attack when it doesn't fit your horrendously subjective needs, now it's no longer about emissions, is it?

    Drive what you like, nobody here really cares, anyway. I've owned diesels and they can be part of improvement for emissions, but people drive what they want to drive, despite your childish attacks. Nobody here is attacking you for driving a diesel, why do you insist on attacking others for their choices?

  117. Other than CO2, nowhere did anyone here present how much NOx neither VW Jetta SportWagen nor Prius generate.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I do not recall EPA rating NOx?

    So noone here has been able to prove in no uncertain terms that a Prius pollutes less than a VW Jetta SportWagen.

    What I do not want to see happening is being drowned in a sea of gasoline automatic hybrids, and lack of diesel choice options as a result.

  118. Also, what about the pollution generated from creation and disposal of batteries? Clean diesel cars do not add this additional environmental penalty.

  119. "Nobody here is attacking you for driving a diesel, why do you insist on attacking others for their choices?"

    I am not disparaging anyone per se, but I will defend clean diesel when someone spreads anti clean diesel propaganda, because I see it as a threat to diesel adoption here in the United States.

    And if diesel adoption is threatened, that means that manufacturers will not bring all the advanced clean diesel models over here, and I will not have access to that technology any more. That would be a doomsday scenario in terms of transportation for me. I do not want that.

    Now, is there any part of that which I need to clarify?

  120. There are more comments in this thread
  121. Don't ever move to a city with lots of stop-start traffic.
    That MPG figure you drool over will drop significantly, and the hybrid's will only have improved.
    Enjoy juggling with your 6 gears in order to get that torque from the engine, too.
    I (and you, it seems) like manuals, others quite like autos.

  122. You do not know what you are writing about.

    For several years I drove through the worst city traffic in Europe, day in, day out: on any given day, it could take me up to 2.5 hours for the equivalent of 16 miles (25km).

    I drove a 5-speed diesel. I consistently got 6.5 L/100 km. At 120,000 km, the engine started breaking in. I started getting 5.8 L / 100 km, all city traffic.

    Every day I drove that five-speed manual, and loved every second of it. And I would never, ever again drive an automatic. I would rather walk or bike.

  123. Your view of "automatic" is silly.

    What about "constant" drives such as the electric cars or EREVs?

    No need for gear changes, you get 275 ft-lb of torque at ANY RPM, especially at 0 RPM. No diesels can do that...

  124. "Do you work with diesel engines professionally? In what capacities?"

    I do not work on them professionally, although in the interest of full disclosure I was offered a job to work as a certified mazda mechanic by a dealership.

    My father used to own an Opel Kadett 1.6D when I was a child, and we had to tear that engine apart and put it back together; he also owned a Nissan 1.6 L diesel which he managed to crack the block on somehow, and we tore that engine apart and put it all together, welded the block. We were told it could not be done. Ever since then I knew that when I grow up, I want a Japanese diesel, and when I moved to Europe, I bought my first mazda diesel. I have never driven anything but diesels since, and I do all my own work.

  125. "Do you work with diesel engines professionally? In what capacities?"

    Also, yes I am an engineer by both trade and profession, although not a mechanical engineer. But I have always done all of my own automechanical work on my cars, and I still do that. I have many dis- and reassembled engines and transmissions behind me.

  126. I think it's the "bad reputation" that Diesels have that hurts them the most in the USA.

  127. My thinking is that minimizing petroleum consumption is the thing. So I prefer a "hybrid" that is primarily electric, not primarily a fossil fuel vehicle. Right now, that is probably best represented by the Chevy Volt. And that's what I drive because it is able to be a "pure EV" in a sense, for almost all my driving. I can bypass the gas/diesel station completely almost all of the time. But recognizing that charging stations are scarce, inconvenient and slow for longer trips, I can still drive long distances and fuel up as needed at the petrol stop. Would I rather put Gasoline or Diesel in the tank? From what I've read, and supported by comments here, I think Gasoline is the best choice as it is somewhat cleaner and more widely available.

  128. Modern dieselcar is actually quite fun to drive, it has loads of torque starting from low revs and gasoline engined cars with same volume simply cannot compete with that. Many people are still looking just at horsepower but it is torque that makes driveability. You have over 230 lb/ft at your use between 1500-3500 rpm from almost any 2-liter diesel engine. And mileage achieved are very nice too. Modern diesel is clean too, don't stare at heavy machinery or coal-rollers. It also has smaller CO2 emissions than gasoline car.

  129. Well just purchased a 2015 Gold TDI(US) fully loaded at 26K could have bought the base for 22K. drive to/fr work is split Cty/Hwy total of 38 miles per day. Getting 41MPG combined and solely hwy is 52. I'll take the great mileage and flexability and fun the TDI has any day. The Hybrids are boreing.

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