Diesel cars growing as an option

Feb. 7, 2013 at 3:30 PM
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CHICAGO, Feb. 7 (UPI) -- The Chevrolet Cruze on Thursday joined the growing ranks of passenger vehicles available with diesel engines for the U.S. market.

Diesel vehicles make up 3 percent of U.S. auto sales but Chevrolet's Cruze, to be launched at the Chicago Auto Show this week, joins Volkswagen, Audi, Mercedes Benz, and BMW in manufacturers offering diesel cars for U.S. consumers, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.

In addition, Jeep, a Chrysler division, and Mazda Motor Corp. have scheduled the launch of new diesel cars this year. Jeep plans to put a diesel engine in a Grand Cherokee sports utility vehicle and Mazda plans to offer a diesel Mazda6 sedan, the newspaper said.

Volkswagen has long been ahead of the curve in diesel options. About 20 percent of Volkswagen vehicles sold in the United States have diesel engines.

But Volkswagen says the more the merrier.

"This is not a fixed slice of pie that gets divided by the same customers. This will grow the diesel segment and that's good news for us," Chief Executive Officer of Volkswagen Group of America Jonathan Browning said, referring to the expanding opportunities for consumers to convert to diesel vehicles.

Historically, diesel vehicles have been considered slow, smoky, chug-along vehicles that require more expensive fuel.

Largely, the price of fuel is affected by higher federal taxes that the government uses to offset the extra wear on U.S. highways by large trucks, which use diesel engines.

On the positive side, however, diesel vehicles are known for higher gas mileage and engines last longer than gasoline engines.

Diesel cars also retain value better than cars with gasoline engines.

Three years out of a showroom, a diesel vehicle averages a resale value 63 percent of the sticker price. For cars with gasoline engines, that drops to 53 percent, consulting firm ALG said.

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