DIESEL COMEBACK?

Nissan has announced that 2010 will see diesel Nissans in the North American market. First to debut will likely be the Maxima. There are only a few automakers competing in Europe that don’t possess a diesel repertoire.

Nissan is a seller and producer in Europe, so it goes without saying that diesel-powered automobiles is no new thing to the Japanese company. Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn sees growing demand for fuel efficiency and low emissions in the US, but you can assume the demand isn’t up to snuff yet. 2010 is soon coming, but not that soon. Nissan’s deep link with Renault is a help. Renault is French, and the French have always been considered among the diesel elite.

Meanwhile, Nissan is not the first to proclaim significant interest (or plans) in bringing diesel to North America. DaimlerChrysler, both on the American and German side, have been quietly tapping into diesel buyers’ awareness in the recent past. The E320 Bluetec (see story here) is a major salvo, but the Jeep Liberty and smart fortwo have been there recently for DaimlerChrysler.

Large pickup trucks from Ford, Chevrolet/GMC and Dodge have often passed you on a highway incline, utilizing their impressive diesel torque-monsters. Stump pullers.

Volkswagen has always pushed diesel-powered automobiles here as well as there (Europe). Attempts have been made at V10 Touaregs and years of TDI Golfs, Jettas, New Beetles, and even Passats. Emissions restrictions have tempered their enthusiasm, but VW/Audi could not let their prior decades of work maintaining a diesel presence just…. come… to…. nothing…. POOF!… as Mercedes and BMW succeed. Audi won the 24 Hours of LeMans with a diesel-powered racer. Gotta get something back for your $ and research.

BMW produces some of the fastest diesels in the world. They want to sell us some, but an increase in availability of ultra-low-sulphur diesel fuel. 68% of BMW’s in Europe are diesel-powered. BMW’s Fritz Steinparzer doubts if many Americans even know BMW makes diesel engines.

Honda’s everyman 4-cylinder diesel may be the best there is (Civic and Accord in Europe) and surely a company so renowned for engine building will share with North America. Surely.

Toyota cleans diesels by simultaneously slashing nitrogen oxides and particulate matter by using low-temperature combustion, and massive exhaust gas recirculation. Yet Toyota said that designing engine control units for NA markets is difficult because of poor fuel.

Notes:

1979 Oldsmobile Toronado Brougham Coupé Diesel weighed 3904 pounds, held 86 litres of fuel. It was powered by a 5.7L V8 (125 bhp and 224 lb ft of torque). Not a good car, and The Good Car Guy hopes that it will not colour your vision when diesels are available at your local showrooms.