Fuel Economy: Is Diesel An Option?

In response to my previous kvetching about the scarcity of cheap fuel efficient cars, JWK commented that his 2001 Golf TDI gets 48 MPG (it’s rated for 44). Meanwhile, TreeHugger pointed out that Volkswagen’s Polo BlueMotion gets 62 MPG (Volkswagen UK claims the current Polo hatchback gets up to 72 MPG in diesel (I assume that’s about 60 MPG in US measures), and TreeHugger points out the 157 mpg Loremo AG).

Sadly, the Polo has never been sold in the US (and there’s no sign that VW plans to bring it here), and looking around the Volkswagen US website leaves a reader wondering if VW ever did sell diesel cars in the US. In fact most every diesel passenger car has been taken off the US market (compare 2003) because manufacturers are having trouble meeting LEV II regulations.

The irony here is that while the diesel Polo consumes significantly less fuel and emits correspondingly less CO2, it still has greater NOx and particulate matter emissions than a similar gasoline-powered model. L. David Peters thinks keeping diesel passenger cars off our highways is foolish when the potential for reduced greenhouse gas emissions is so great (easy to say, I suppose, when you don’t live with California’s smog (downtown, highways, hills, up high, on the desktop, and creeping into the wilderness)).

Manufacturers are developing newer, cleaner diesels that should be released soon. The Smart Fortwo I mentioned previously appears to actually be a diesel after all (see 2005 review that claims it gets 48 MPG) and it should be available in early 2008.

I’m contemplating signing up for the Smart reservation program, as the car is clearly a leader in all the features that I named the other day, but that 157 MPG Loremo would be a winner for me if it ever gets off the drafting table and into production.

diesel, Volkswagen, TDi, Smart Fortwo, LEV II, emissions, fuel economy, mileage

4 thoughts on “Fuel Economy: Is Diesel An Option?

  1. Hello again, still got no answer. Perhaps not the right place but is the library and his services available for exchange students like me?

    Many thanks,

    The Netherlands

  2. Volkswagen absolutely sold turbocharged fuel-injected diesels in the United States. I know because I drove one at a dealership in Colorado Springs. It very quick for such a small engine. I don’t know if it’s still being offered, but if it’s not it could have something to do with reliability. Lots of people buy according to Consumer Reports recommendations and right now CR is big on Japanese stuff.

  3. VW has sold diesels for many years in the U.S. market, most recently the efficient and powerful Turbo Direct Injection (TDI) turbocharged version. Go to http://www.tdiclub.com for everything you ever wanted to know about these cars, including sales of used ones. I believe that VW quit importing the TDI version for the 2007-08 model years due to conversion of the diesel to a common rail injection system. From what I hear, the newly engineered diesel will once again be available in the U.S. I own two VW TDIs, one Jetta and one New Beetle. I just took the Jetta on a 1300 mile road trip, average speed 70 mph, some with AC running, and got 53 mpg going and coming back. These cars are powerful and will run easily over 110 mph. I expect to get 450,000 miles out of each of my TDIs. What more could I ask for?

    Compared to Japanese derived cars, VWs suffer in the reliability department, and it is a good thing that I have always worked on my own cars. The interiors are cheaply made, which is why I just ordered new leather seat covers for both of my cars.

    VW has recently developed and intends to produce a Golf diesel electric hybrid that gets 69 mpg. You can take these fuel mileage figures to the bank, unlike those for Prius. My Jetta is rated at 48 mpg on the highway, but I get 53 because of some low rolling resistance Toyo tires that I purchased. They do make a big difference.

  4. Whatever happened to the Toyota Eco Spirit? Toyota had a working vehicle in the early 2000s which was reported to achieve 104 mpg. So, why aren’t we seeing a zillion of them on the roads? My conspiracy fantasies are going full-throttle.


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