In Europe, more than half of the new cars sold feature a diesel engine of some form. This is because modern diesel engines, especially in turbocharged form, offer similar performance to their gasoline counterparts but with much better fuel economy.
Some models are even more fuel efficient than comparable gasoline-electric hybrids, but still the diesel revolution is yet to take in North America.
It’s not helping that brands, such as Jeep, are still refusing to offer diesel options in their latest models. Jeep in fact has no immediate plans to sell a diesel version of its redesigned 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee in North America, even though one will be offered overseas.
In fact, the older 2009 model even had a diesel option but the new 2011 model won’t because it doesn’t make business sense, according to the Grand Cherokee's chief engineer, Phil Jansen.
Part of the reason is a regulatory requirement for a new urea after-treatment system, which could push the price premium for a diesel Jeep close to $4,000--a price most U.S. consumers aren’t willing to pay, according to Jansen.
The after-treatment requirement is due to the stricter emissions standards in the U.S., standards that the diesel variants sold in Europe don't have to meet.
Additionally, on the last model, diesels only accounted for about 8 percent of all Grand Cherokee sales but this number would need to increase to between 15 and 20 percent before Jeep would consider bringing back a diesel option for its SUV.
Ironically, Mercedes-Benz--which provided the platform the new 2011 Grand Cherokee is based on--offers a diesel version of its similar sized entry, the 2010 Mercedes-Benz ML 320 Bluetec. Its sales, however, are relatively modest.
[Automotive News, sub req’d]