6 Crucial Pros and Cons of Diesel Cars

They say soccer will never make it big in the US – just like diesel cars. While the rest of the world, and Europe in particular, are so high on vehicles with diesel engines, it’s something of a mystery in the United States. For comparison, the European Automobile Association says that more then 50% of new cars sold have diesel engines while in America, edmunds.com lists down three percent as the market share for diesel cars.

Then again, Jessica Caldwell, senior analyst for edmunds.com, says that there are signs pointing to diesel cars becoming more mainstream. For one, the advances in technology has eliminated the noise from diesel vehicles, as well as the black smoke that gets emitted.

Nowadays, diesel runs on new, low-sulfur version of diesel fuel, which is dubbed as “clean diesel.” This kind of fuel produces less pollution and lessens the sooty smell associated with the diesel vehicles.

Also, higher gas prices have made Americans turn to alternative fuels. In addition, Wards Auto industry analyst Haig Stoddard mentions that automobile manufacturers are also making the push for diesel machines.

In order to meet new fuel-efficiency standards, automakers need to increase the average mileage of their US-bound vehicles from 27.5 miles per gallon to 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016. To achieve that, car manufacturers that build vehicles overseas are introducing their models in the US.

The car makers with the most number of diesel options available are from Germany. Then again, US brands such as Chrysler and GM are also making diesel moves.

But merely going for diesel just because its the trend shouldn’t be your only reason. You should be able to weigh the pros and cons before you make a decision.

List of Pros of Diesel Cars

1. Better fuel economy.
During the summer, it isn’t unusual for gas prices to increase. Then again, with prices of gas hovering close to $4, car buyers are most likely going to search for a way to reduce fuel consumption.

Paul Taylor, chief economist of the National Auto Dealers Association in McLean, Virginia, says that “If Americans were to become convinced that gas prices were permanently higher, that certainly would increase the interest in diesels. They attain stronger mileage, and they certainly are going to be attractive as gas prices move up.”

For comparison, a typical diesel engine gets about 30 percent better fuel economy compared to a gas counterpart. This is a huge advantage to those who want to save up on costs. And for those who tend to drive long distances, they surely seem like an attractive option. Also, a tank of diesel can get drivers a lot more further than a tank of gas.

Although Caldwell expects car buyers to go for hybrids or fuel-efficient compacts, she expects those who don’t want to downsize to a smaller car to opt for diesel cars.

2. Higher resale value.
In factoring the overall cost of owning a car, resale value sits at the top of considerations. Unless you’re the kind of driver that constantly tests the limit of your vehicle, you can resell for a lot more if your vehicle is well taken care of. And diesel plays a key role in terms of resale.

Let’s put this into an example. Let’s say that you own a low-mileage 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI diesel vehicle. This car will get you over $3,000 on average than a 5-cylinder, gas-powered Jetta GLI with the same conditions. What may be the reason for that, you ask? Well, it’s because diesel engines are known to be more durable than gasoline engines.

Basically, diesel engines live a long life and they cost a lot more when new they become sought-after in the used market. In fact, a new engine costs at least $5,000 more than an equivalent gasoline-powered engine.

3. More torque.
Torque is the twisting power that is generated by the engine. And when it comes to that, diesel just has a lot more power compared to gas. Even if you’re not to savvy on what torque is, as a driver, you get to feel it in the way you use the accelerator pedal of your vehicle – especially on the highway or when towing a heavy load.

That can be said when driving a car with a big engine, but with a smaller vehicle, the effects can still be felt.

List of Cons of Diesel Cars

1. Diesel is expensive.
Comparing price options between diesel and gasoline is enough to sway drivers the other way – diesel is so much more pricier. Choosing a diesel option on a new car can cost $2,000 or more compared to the gas-powered variant. Then again, this also has to depend on the brand and the price range of the model.

Some buyers may feel that the fuel economy bump isn’t enough to justify the price, especially with a lot more high-mileage options available with gas-powered vehicles. A lot of gas-powered subcompact and compact cars have a lot better fuel economy than before and it’s also something that car manufacturers are constantly trying to improve which then makes the market very competitive.

2. Diesel fuel can be hard to find.
When comparing the price of diesel fuel to gas, its price has fluctuated historically. However, the past few decades have shown that diesel is generally more expensive than regular unleaded.

In terms of finding other alternative fuels such as E85 or natural gas, these are easier found compared to diesel. In fact, some areas are scarce when it comes to diesel which forces drivers to try really hard looking for it. Since not every gas station carries it, drivers need to plan a lot ahead of time when they should get gas and how they are going to use it.

3. Diesel is available on limited models.
One of the biggest downsides to wanting a diesel model is the availability of models in the US. Nearly a quarter of the diesel sales in America are from the Volkswagen brand. While the German automaker is popular for a reason, having only one manufacturer dominate the market speaks volumes about the few choices available.

The disinterest in bringing diesel models to the US can be traced back to the disastrous models that were introduced in the 1970s as a solution to fuel shortages. Those vehicles were not well designed and their emissions left off a scent. Also, they were noisy and took a long time to start during the cold months. In other words, the model just turned people off.

About the Author
Brandon Miller has a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a seasoned writer who has written over one hundred articles, which have been read by over 500,000 people. If you have any comments or concerns about this blog post, then please contact the Green Garage team here.