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Who Might Buy Diesels? Gasoline Drivers, Not Hybrid Owners

 
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diesel and AdBlue fillers in Audi Q7 TDI

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With a raft of new diesel vehicles entering the market this year and next, the question arises: Who exactly will buy them?

Based on the results of a survey to be released later this morning, Volkswagen of America suggests that some drivers of gasoline cars are likely to be open to the benefits of diesel cars--but that many hybrid drivers are not.

The study, the first annual "Clean Diesel IQ Survey," will be released tonight at a forum, “Clean Diesel on the Rise”, sponsored by the German American Chamber of Commerce.

The study measured the attitudes, opinions and beliefs about clean diesel vehicles among 1,500 gasoline, hybrid and clean diesel drivers.

Among its findings:

  • Drivers of modern diesel cars are deeply committed to the technology, and understand both its fuel-efficiency benefits and that it complies with all emissions rules
  • Those diesel drivers listed fuel efficiency and strong acceleration as the top benefits of the technology
  • Non-diesel drivers often lack a broader grasp of today's state of clean-diesel technology, or the degree of improvement over passenger-car diesels of 10 years ago
  • Drivers can be categorized by their attitudes toward today's diesel cars as "Diesel Dedicated," "Diesel Curious," or "Diesel Maligner"
  • More than half of today's gasoline and hybrid drivers understand diesel's fuel efficiency
  • But more than one-third of gasoline and hybrid drivers still feel diesel vehicles are noisy and smell bad, against less than 5 percent of diesel drivers
  • Gasoline and hybrid drivers also over-estimate the payback period in which fuel efficiency offsets the higher cost of a diesel powertrain
  • 94 percent of current diesel owners want to buy another diesel car

While Volkswagen has released earlier survey results showing that diesel drivers and hybrid drivers are very different, the new survey shows where makers of diesel cars may choose to focus their marketing efforts: among current drivers of gasoline cars who are open to the diesel message.

"We know that once a driver experiences a clean diesel vehicle," said Volkswagen's Douglas Skorupski, "they become dedicated to the diesel powertrain.”

DISCLOSURE: This author will be moderating the forum tonight at which this study will be released.

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Comments (49)
  1. I have owned 12 Diesel Cars since 1982! I still own 2 1996 Passat TDI and 84 Mercedes 300D I recently sold my Jetta Sportwagen TDI and Bought a 2013 Jetta Hybrid......I like the the car it has 2000 miles on it now but Gas Mileage stinks not within 10 MPG of advertised! I have a very short drive everyday and the lifetime MPG on my Sportwagen was 33.8! That said I am real sorry I sold it. I will buy another TDI soon....
     
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  2. Hybrid,Diesel ,Gas all are on the table for my next car but it has to make sense on initial purchase price combined with with yearly cost of ownership.If I bought another VW it would diesel because there gas engines have proven in our household unreliable.Our 2008 Passat wagon was great but the cylinder heads blew at 50k and we traded it in for a none VW product group product.
     
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  3. What a slanted discussion.
    Read another way, the survey says that hybrid owners that understand its benefits have no interest in dramatically less fuel efficient, more polluting diesels (more true if driving in the city, must less true if primarily highway driving.)

    So really we should educate people on the benefits of hybrids not the unfulfilled promises of diesel.
     
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  4. I disagree.

    Based on comments I've seen on various automotive sites, there is a lot of misinformation out there regarding the current generation of diesel vehicles, "more polluting" being one of the most perpetuated canard. I think most people are aware of the benefits of hybrids, especially in the U.S.
     
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  5. Fortunately with have the EPA so we don't need to argue.
    EPA has three measures of "Environment and Energy" on their Website. Comparing a 2013 Prius to a VW Jetta Diesel, comparison is not even close with the Prius way in the lead.
    1) 6.6 versus 11.2 barrels of oil, Hybrid advantage
    2) 179 versus 297 gram/mile CO2, Hybrid advantage
    3) 9 versus 6 on the smog scale of 10, Hybrid wins.

    So the real mis-information here is coming from the Diesel camp.
     
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  6. Oh, and please feel free to improve the diesel numbers by 15% (I agree the EPA diesel numbers are a little low). Still, there is no comparison.
     
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  7. The "smog score" that EPA uses doesn't include the vastly higher upstream VOC emissions of gasoline. VOCs are potent "smog" precursors.

    Check out the MB S400 hybrid vs. the S350 BlueTec diesel. Your "hybrid advantage" rapidly disappears. Prius isn't the only hybrid available in the U.S.
     
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  8. The site shows the difference between a Prius and a Jetta. Prius is cleaner than Jetta by a lot even if you include the upstream.

    http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/Find.do?action=sbs&id=32716&id=33324&#tab2
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  9. Many hybrids currently available don't get anywhere near their EPA mileage ratings in the real world (http://news.consumerreports.org/cars/2012/12/video-tests-show-2013-ford-fusion-c-max-hybrids-dont-live-up-to-47-mpg-claims.html). That will invalidate the EPA "annual petroleum consumption" and "CO2 emissions" data.
     
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  10. http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/Find.do?action=sbs&id=32716&id=33324&id=33366

    So, I included the 2013 Jetta Hybrid, Jetta Diesel and Prius on that page. With upstream, the Jetta Hybrid is still better than Jetta Diesel.

    Now, Mercedez is just a terrible gas hog in general. So, maybe it is true that in the case of Mercedez, then it is better to go diesel.

    Sure, your point is valid, NOT all hybrid are created equal. Some "mild" hybrids or crappy hybrids aren't going to be as good.

    But if you compare the BEST DIESEL against the BEST Hybrid, then hybrid wins.
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  11. There are more comments in this thread
  12. The Key point here is that soon US car buyers will have more choice (not as much as European buyers admittedly).

    The market will decide, although it may take a while.

    The big change will come when F150s and their ilk are available with a Diesel engine as this is the different factor in the US that is not seen elsewhere, namely the use of trucks as everyday run arounds. In Europe and elsewhere they are still mainly working vehicles in the main.

    If diesel can drive up the efficiency of the whole fleet by providing a choice then the increase in sales of this type of vehicle should be actively encouraged. It is NOT an either or situation (Hybrid or Diesel) they can happily co-exist as they do different jobs and fill different needs.
     
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  13. We have in our family, a 2010 Jetta Diesel, 2008 Civic Hybrid, 2010 Prius, I drive a Tesla S. The Jetta is by far the nicest car of the ICE group to drive. It is awesome in comfort and pleasure. MPG on the VW is easily 50 to 54 on the hwy at 75 mph. I have to drive the Hybrids at 60 to even get close. Around town, the Prius gets the best MPG. Overall, since new, combined city/hwy is 41 mpg on the VW, 43 on the Prius, and 38 on the Civic.

    Tesla S, makes all the above cars seem obsolete. I doubt we will ever buy an ICE car again.
     
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  14. Diesel is nice but my problem with diesel is its particulate emission since the diesel in the US is relatively dirtier comparing to European Diesel.
     
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  15. Why do you say that? DPF is required on both European and U.S. diesel vehicles to achieve emission requirements (both light-duty and heavy-duty).
     
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  16. Sure, meeting requirement is one thing. But there are so many different levels. With the new DPF, the PM emission is greatly improved. But it doesn't eliminate the CO, NOx and NMOG emissions and none of the diesel offering today in the US can meet California's PZEV requirement like many of they hybrids. Even if you discount all the hybrid's MPG by a factor of 20%, the emission of those clean diesel in all "smog" generating category is many times the hybrid emission.
     
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  17. But that's not what you said in your initial post. You said that your problem with diesel is its PARTICULATE EMISSIONS. DPF is required on all U.S. diesel vehicles manufactured since 2007 to meet PM emission requirements, and DPF essentially eliminates all particle emissions above background.

    Did I misunderstand your comments?
     
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  18. DPF only eliminate some of the particulates from the fuel and all the particulates required. It doesn't eliminate the finer particulates which is beyond the regulation. Since the diesel fuel is dirtier than the gasoline fuel and heavier, those finer particulates are even greater.

    Of course, those doesn't include the upstream particulates emission.
     
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  19. "... It doesn't eliminate the finer particulates which is beyond the regulation...."

    And you would be wrong. DPF is effective across the entire particle size spectrum, including the extremely fine nanoparticles, based on numerous independent studies.
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  20. "DPF is effective across the entire particle size spectrum, including the extremely fine nanoparticles"

    Really? across the entire particle size spectrum? Even nanoparticles... Explain to me how exactly is that "wide spectrum" is achieved...
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  21. Okay, let me give you just a few of the two dozen or so references I have...

    "…they [DPFs] have been shown to be effective in practically eliminating particle emissions across the size spectrum, including the UFPs [ultra-fine particles]…"

    Source: HEI Review Panel on Ultrafine Particles. 2013. “Understanding the Health Effects of Ambient Ultrafine Particles.” HEI Perspectives 3. Health Effects Institute, Boston, MA, (Page 19)

    http://webpages.charter.net/lmarz/muncie/Ecotraffic%20Gas%20vs%20Diesel%20PN%20Graphic.jpg

    Source: Ecotraffic Report, "Particle and NOx emissions from automotive diesel and petrol engines - A 2009 update." (Figure 10 on page 33)
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  22. There are more comments in this thread
  23. I also disagree with your assertion that clean diesel has "smog" emissions that are many times the "hybrid's" emissions (again, which hybrid?).

    Even the PZEV-certified Prius is only slightly better in well-to-wheel NMOG+NOx emissions (i.e., ozone precursor or "smog" emissions) than the Golf TDI (0.255 g/mi NMOG+NOx (Golf TDI); 0.217 g/mi NMOG+NOx (Prius)), and actually slightly worse that the Passat TDI (0.172 g/mi NMOG+NOx) based on EPA upstream emission factors. And that's using EPA fuel economy figures which are generally pessimistic for the Passat TDI and generally optimistic for the Prius.
     
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  24. Okay, I am confused with your statement that Passat TDI is even cleaner than Golf TDI. Both the 2.0L TDI have the same SMOG rating. Golf (and Jetta) gets better MPG than Passat TDI. So, why is it when you include the upstream, Passat TDI is better?

    It doesn't make any sense, does it? If the engine is the same, the smog rating at the tailpipe is the same, the fuel are the same and GOLF gets better MPG, yet when include the upstream of the fuel production/transportation, the "less" efficient is better?

    That does NOT make any sense. I question your data.

    Here is the EPA emission listing for Prius, Golf and Passat.

    http://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/Compareresult.do?vehicle_ID=156579&vehicle_ID2=156206&vehicle_ID3=156279
     
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  25. "Smog rating" is a fairly broad category, which is why it's NOT a good metric for determining how "clean" a specific vehicle is.

    The only way to accurately determine emissions from a specific vehicle line is my examining the actual certified emissions. The certified emissions for the Golf/Jetta/Beetle TDI line are available at http://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/onroad/cert/pcldtmdv/2013/volkswagen_pc_a0070315_2d0_u2_diesel.pdf and the certified emissions for the Passat TDI are available at http://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/onroad/cert/pcldtmdv/2013/volkswagen_pc_a0070311_2d0_u2.pdf. All of the certs for the 2013 vehicles are available at http://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/onroad/cert/pcldtmdv/2013/2013.php.
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  26. Well, your argument is no different than saying we shouldn't trust the MPG rating b/c every specific vehicle with a specific driver will perform differently. That is true to certain extent. But the ONLY "benchmark" is the "regulation" which cars fail that rule will NOT pass smog. So, we can only judge by the bar.
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  27. Those are the official CERTIFIED emissions. It's the entire basis use to determine the category a vehicle hits, including PZEV or ULEV, or even the "smog" scores (they're based on the Tier 2 Bin the vehicle is certified to - http://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/summarychart.pdf).

    And again, these are only the exhaust emissions directly from the vehicle. Gasoline has vastly higher upstream VOC emissions due to its volatility according to EPA (http://webpages.charter.net/lmarz/muncie/EPA_Emission_Factors.png). Please explain why you think upstream VOC emissions are any less involved in ozone ("smog") formation than NMOG or NOx from the exhaust.
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  28. There are more comments in this thread
  29. I would love to see the price of diesel competitively stabilized up here in Illinois where it frequently gets to be $0.50 to $0.75 per gallon more than unleaded regular. There is no way in hades that this big of a surcharge can be recaptured by some 20%-30% greater fuel efficiency over a regular gasoline engine. And hybrids do lousy on MPG in the north land also in the winter - with water cooled engines! I hope for diesel to be pergfected to run on BIODIESEL that can be produced from algae by companies such as Solazyme, Origin Oil or Algenol. Americxa is being screwed by Big Oil - as all diesel is still petro based in IOUSA-ville.
     
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  30. Not sure where you live, but I live in one of Chicago's collar counties. Most places that carry diesel are pretty much in lock-step with midrange gas. That can be 20 cents or more per gallon but 10 cents is more common.
     
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  31. I've never seen diesel NOT carry at least a premium of 50 cents to over a dollar/gallon over regular in the L.A. area. Still I'd take a diesel over a hybrid any day. Diesel's in my experience maintain the fun to drive factor that most hybrids lack.
     
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  32. I own a 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid and wouldn't give it up for anything. But I would consider getting a diesel when I replace my second car in the not too distant future. Probably not a VW - never been a fan - but I'm really interested in the 2014 Mazda 6 skyactiv-D combo pack. Seems really interesting.
     
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  33. I traded my 2010 Prius in for a Passat TDI with stick shift. Can't be happier. Will never switch back to hybrid. It is much easier to achieve 50+ mpg on highway, and not difficult to achieve 40 mpg locally. I got all my driving pleasure and comfort back without losing any fuel economy. I don't know why I had waited so long after 166k miles of very boring, almost painful, driving.

    The only thing I am not sure is Passat's reliability. Better than average according to Consumer reports, but the tracking record is still too short. I am keeping my fingers crossed.

    Again, from now on I am a diesel car fan. I will enjoy the tremendous low-end torque and the unexpected fuel economy, 20% to 40% better than EPA, for the rest of my life.
     
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  34. "What is your definition fo "mechanically" superior?"

    Simplicity and robustness, coupled with low fuel consumption and better driving dynamics. Longetivity. It is no secret that diesel engines normally last at least twice the lifetime of a gasoline engine, and that is the minimum.

    "The most efficient hybrids do suck in driving dynamic."

    And everyone here knows it, too. So if we take two vehicles with same fuel consumption, but one with the better driving dynamics, I would pick a diesel, because it is logical.

    "Personally, I wouldn't buy a Prius for that reason. But we are arguing about emission here."

    WHY? Emissions are not be-all, end-all.

    And I was originally singling out Mr. Briggs, just so you know.
     
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  35. "Simplicity and robustness, coupled with low fuel consumption and better driving dynamics. Longetivity. It is no secret that diesel engines normally last at least twice the lifetime of a gasoline engine, and that is the minimum."

    Simplicity? I disagree. Only a "mechanical fan" would think something with an electrical motor is more complex and less robust. As far as gasoline engine vs. diesel goes, the only major part that is different is the spark plug from a block diagram point of view. Typically, hybrid gasoline engines don't need turbo where many of those cleaner diesels use turbo. That is basically a wash in terms of moving parts and complexity.

    Now, as far as lifetime goes, that might be true since diesel parts are more durable.
     
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  36. But we are not discussing pure electric versus diesel motors, are we? You were comparing gasoline hybrids with diesels. A gasoline hybrid has a gasoline engine, which is more complex than a diesel one because of spark plugs and computer-controlled ignition timing, coupled with an electric motor and a hybrid drive train to join the two, coordinated by computer software. That is extremely complex.
     
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  37. I have to disagree. A hybrid system is not just adding an electrical motor to a regular car. It is very complicated. Therefore, in case any repair needed, the cost can be easily more than the remaining value of the car. I have read some scary stories on some Prius forums.

    Moreover, the batteries do not last forever. A reasonable estimation is 200k miles. The replacing cost of the battery of a Prius is about $4000, if the computer and relay are good. Somebody paid $12000 for replacing all those. A plug-in's battery definitely cost much more.

    I am glad I traded my Prius in before too late. It is a financially time bomb if you drive a lot. I miss that car, but will never buy any hybrid again.
     
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  38. In my opinion, many people whom elect to buy diesel powered vehicles do so for the following reasons:
    1. Longevity - diesel engines last a long time.
    2. Return on investment - diesel powered vehicles generally see a high demand at resale even with hundreds-of-thousands of miles on the odometer.
    3. Fuel economy - a Euro test proved a large BMW 5-Series sedan outperformed a Toyota Prius in both city & highway.
    4. Ability to function on biofuels - easily adapted to original diesel design of operating on crop waste, etc.
    5. Performance & driveability - fun to drive
    6. "Green" - in terms of fuel efficiency and longevity, in combination.
     
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  39. To expand on my previous comment. The disadvantage that diesel sales encounter in the U.S. may be related to our disposable society. Why borrow a few thousand dollars extra for a vehicle that you'll just be trading in a few years later and taking out another loan for a new vehicle? This is detrimental to some of the diesel benefits noted in my previous post.
    Personally, I've driven diesels since 1997, or more specifically, I've driven A diesel since 1997. At over 325K miles on the OD, it still drives like new. I'm fortunate to live in a dry western climate, so body rust is a non-issue. Therefore, I don't foresee buying a new vehicle for another decade or more -that's pretty green in my book!
    However, if a U.S. manufacturer were to introduce a small-liter, big-torque diesel engine, backed by a 6-speed manual transmission, I might be inclined to buy a second vehicle for light-duty driving.
     
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