With hybrids and electrics receiving all the attention in the automotive efficiency wars most consumers are unaware of the onslaught of diesel-powered cars that will soon be arriving on this side of pond. Clean diesel sales were up 35% in the first quarter of 2012 over Q1 2011, so automotive manufacturers aren’t about to slow the diesel production pace just because “hybrid” and “plug-in” are the buzzwords in the US.
While diesel models might be old news in Europe, it’s still uncharted territory to most shoppers in the States. What is loud and clear to consumers here is that the “Big Three” are primarily focused on hybrid and full-time/plug-in electric technology when it comes to the on-going fuel efficiency war.
What you don’t see are the European manufacturers lurking right around the corner anxiously waiting to gobble up our diesel market share. BMW is expecting to deliver its diesel offerings to the U.S. for almost its full line of passenger cars and SUVs. BMW first introduced diesels back in 1983 and is back in the game knowing that fuel economy sells. Expect to see BMW expand diesel offerings for everything from the X1 through the 7 series sedan beginning in 2014.
Volkswagen, the most recognized name in diesel vehicles here, has also been expanding its TDI line adding the Passat and Toureg to their aready familiar and well-selling Golf and Jetta TDI line. Expect the Tiguan to available with a diesel option in approximately 2015.
Mercedes-Benz now offers its BlueTEC Clean Diesel not just for the M and GL series SUVs, but now customers can fill passenger cars with diesel fuel in the full size E and S series sedans. Expect a GLK diesel in the near future.
Not waiting around to see how the competition does before making a move in the US, Audi too plans on expanding its line of diesels to the Q5 in 2014. Right now Audi only offers a diesel option on the entry level A3 and its largest SUV, the Q7.
Should you be a Japanese car loyalist, Mazda recently announced 2014 iterations of the Mazda 6 sedan and the new CX-5 crossover. Getting diesel dizzy yet?
So are US auto manufacturers missing the fuel efficiency boat like they did two decades ago? Well fortunately the Big Three aren’t exactly sleeping at the wheel, but they have yet to fully jump into the diesel pool with both feet for anything with four wheels other than truck lines. That certainly doesn’t mean they are not grabbing their piece of the fuel efficiency pie.
Expect the Chevy Cruze diesel in 2014 and a Cadillac ATS diesel after that. Chrysler will also offer the Jeep Grand Cherokee with a diesel engine as a 2014 model.
Even though Ford may not have any immediate plans to offer a diesel option in passenger cars, expect the Fusion Hybrid and C-Max to attract a lot of attention and if hybrids, plug-ins and diesels gets you confused go for Ford’s new 1 liter EcoBoost engine, Ford’s answer to the small diesel.
Alex Leopold is Interbrand's Brand Presentation Manager.