Automakers turn to diesel

Jan. 2, 2008 at 12:10 AM

DETROIT, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- U.S. auto companies are turning to diesel engines as they deal with new fuel-efficiency standards mandated by Congress.

General Motors, Ford and Chrysler all plan to offer diesel-powered light pickup trucks. If those sell, then diesel cars would be the next step, The Detroit News reports.

Chrysler, with its Jeep Grand Cherokee, is now the only U.S. company offering diesel engines outside of medium pickup trucks.

Diesel engines are about 30 percent more efficient than gasoline ones. But diesel, popular in Europe because of fuel-efficiency mandates and tax incentives, failed to catch on in the United States.

The combination of new efficiency mandates and high gas prices is likely to change attitudes.

"If we have to get 35 miles per gallon by 2020, we can't maintain the current makeup of the fleet," said Mike Omotoso of J.D. Power and Associates. "With continuing high gas prices, consumers are looking for vehicles with good fuel economy, and that's where diesel can deliver."

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