Diesels have had incredible sales success over in Europe, but have never gained much popularity here in the U.S.  However, the latest round of diesels coming to the states offer up strong competition against comparative hybrid models.

Some of the latest diesel variants to hit our shores include the BMW 335d and the Volkswagen Jetta TDI.  These two models offer incredible gas mileage at a price premium that undercuts comparable hybrid models, but buyers are still not showing up for diesels in the U.S.

The old diesel models to grace our shores were dirty, smoke belching, clanking cars that seems to have forever set am image of diesels as dirty vehicles.  The new models are far from that, but are still trounced on by hybrids in terms of sales.

The U.S. market has taken a strong liking towards hybrid vehicles as shown by sales numbers in recent years, but several manufacturers still believe that diesels are a better answer.  In 2008, 372,744 hybrid passenger cars were sold, to just 8,605 diesel passenger cars.  Diesel sales have declined tremendously in recent years making hybrid the king og the hill.

The sales numbers are great for those interested in electric powered vehicle as we certainly are here on this site.  But hybrids still have a ways to go to beat diesel in cost effectiveness and fuel economy.  For example, the BMW 335d is listed at 23 mpg city, 36 mpg highway.  A comparably priced hybrid model such as the slightly larger Lexus GS 450h hybrid is listed at 22 mpg city, 25 mpg highway.  Another example, the Volkswagen Jetta TDI returns 30 mpg city and 41 mpg highway.  Compare that with the Ford Fusion Hybrid at 41 mpg city and 36 mpg highway.

Stand out hybrids such as the Prius still have little competition from diesel counterparts.  The Prius offers astounding gas mileage at little to know premium over a standard midszie sedan.  However, most diesel models carry a price premium between $1,800 and $4,000.  Models such as the Prius, which are designed solely as hybrid vehicles are still beyond the reach of diesel variants.

For hybrid models to continue their dominance over diesels they need to improve their mileage numbers and come in at prices that are not a significant premium over their gasoline counterparts.  Luckily, hybrids have little competition from diesels here in the states, but elsewhere in the world, hybrid can't make headway into markets unless they can prove to be a better overall buy than diesel models.

Source:  Detroit Free Press Print Edition