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German automotive companies launch “clean-diesel” marketing campaign in US

12 December 2012

Six German automotive companies—passenger car manufacturers Audi, BMW, Daimler, Porsche and Volkswagen, and the supplier Bosch—launched their first joint campaign for diesels in the US. Under the slogan “Clean Diesel. Clearly Better.” they will argue for the advantages of modern diesel passenger car technology over gasoline engines in terms of cleanliness, consumption and performance.

The new vehicle market share of light-duty diesels in the US is quite low (2.6%) compared with a diesel share of 55% in Western Europe. However, sales of diesel passenger cars by German manufacturers—representing 100% of the market in diesel passenger cars in the US—have more than doubled over the last three years. In the first nine months of the current year, around 69,600 diesel cars were sold in the USA, compared to 30,600 for the same period in 2009.

Diesel vehicles have also shown strong gains among total light vehicles (passenger cars and light trucks). Up to September 2012, 284,400 light vehicles with diesel engines were sold, compared with only 160,000 units in the year 2009. The German manufacturers pushed up their market share of the diesel light vehicle segment from 25% to 37%. Their sales multiplied by two and a half (from 40,000 units to over 104,000).

The campaign, which has been developed jointly by the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) and VDA member companies, comprises a website and flanking offline activities on the US market by the companies involved. Their common goal is to create a multi-brand information platform for clean diesels among the US population.

Using brief examples from everyday motoring in the US, the website explains the dynamics of the diesel drivetrain and its advantages in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, low noise emissions and refueling costs and also addresses outdated concerns regarding diesel cars. For example, website users can not only easily calculate the consumption advantage of a diesel vehicle, but can also hear the difference in noise between a modern diesel drive train and one from the 1990s.

In addition, the participating companies present current models of diesel cars complying with the environmental standards in all 50 US states. On average, their fuel efficiency is 18% higher than corresponding models with gasoline engines.

The campaign participants aim to present the diesel alternative to interested US consumers in as much detail as possible, so the website also provides background information on research and development, and on the overall environmental framework in the USA.

The companies participating in the campaign, which other manufacturers and suppliers may join, will apply the campaign logo as a seal of quality on the US market in advertisements, on banners, in TV spots, product brochures and their showrooms. The campaign will appear at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), in Detroit in January 2013.

December 12, 2012 in Diesel, Engines, Market Background, Sales | Permalink | Comments (23) | TrackBack (0)

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18% higher efficiency isn't much. That's almost exactly the average cost disadvantage of diesel vs. regular gasoline (current eia.gov numbers). Does this mean that the fuel savings net-out to $0.00? That's a tough sell.


it is called marketing boys, Ford or any car maker will supply a high cost hybrid calculating how much above the non hybrid it needs to be priced so those evironmentally concerned buyers will pay the price and the cost concerned buyers will by the other one. just like the volkswagon diesel get a better mpg than the gas one does but strangley it cost more than enough to make up for the fuel costs.

That's right, the car companies know how much they can make you pay and they will sell you something different to give you the idea that you have some kind of choice. Well done car companies, you have the population just where you intended. That is, consuming your product at your price and as often as you can get them to do it. Be sure you don't make anything built to last or that would give the dumb consumers a better value.

You will save about $10k in 10 years by purchasing a Prius vs a Golf TDI, likely to be far more reliable and no scheduled timing belt replacement.

Not sure why the fuel efficiency advantage (18%) they mention is so conservative.

Even EPA estimates have an average of over 27% higher fuel mileage for diesel versions than the equivalent gasoline versions. And the EPA estimates are notorious for underestimating fuel mileage of diesels.

The fuel mileage advantage in Consumer Reports testing is almost 45% for the half-dozen or so diesel versions of vehicles they've tested compared to the gasoline versions.

Maybe they mean 18% higher thermal efficiency?

"Clean Diesel"? Isn't that like "Clean Coal"? or another oxymoron, "Military Intelligence"? All PR for the car companies to try to recover their investments in the Governmental mandated requirement to remove cancer-causing soot from Diesel exhausts and to modify their engines to run on ultra low sulfur fuel.

There are no particular advantages to buying a diesel car, just the illusions of yesteryear.

@Lad
If you want to reduce emissions of particles, modern cars with DPF have lower particle emissions than ambient air – they are cleaning the air. Modern gasoline cars with direct injection have 10 times higher particle emissions. The advantages regarding fuel consumption might be more apparent and easier for the consumer to check. However, it will take years to convince the US customers about these facts. Maybe you should have a look at the site.

I think that the efficiency advantage of diesels is often overstated because it's hard to compare like-with-like.

Take VW for example. They offer three basic engines in the US: a modern diesel, a cheap and obsolete non-turbo gas, and a high performance DI turbo.
You can't compare the diesel to either gas engine. The base non-turbo uses 1980s tech and costs $10K less to purchase. The turbo is a high-strung screamer that's in a totally different performance category.

Comparing the Jetta TDI to a modern gas engine with similar performance reveals a different picture. The Dodge Dart Aero (aka Fiat Viaggio) has a modern DI turbocharged VVT engine and gets within 1 mpg of the Jetta TDI, with similar carrying capacity and performance. They're both European-designed compact sedans built in North America. One has a slightly bigger cabin (Dodge), one has a slightly bigger trunk (VW). It's hard to argue that the TDI is 18% more efficient; you would need to really mess with the maths. In the end, it really comes down to individual preference.

My guess is that the maths would be the same if VW offered their modern 1.4 DI Turbo in this market (they do in the Jetta Hybrid, but that's not a direct comparison).

As long as there are people who think "the car companies know how much they can make you pay " there will a lot of PR BS in the advertising.

In reality they cannot make us buy any specific car.
So don't expect to be forced to buy a $50,000 TDI Polo anytime soon.

The same people that think we are under the car salesman's control want the Gov to mandate what we can buy.

Buyers will always buy the package that appeals to them, and purchase price as well as overall cost of ownership will remain prime driving forces.

@Bernard,

You may be correct about the few vehicles in the USA that have a diesel option, but there are many cars in Europe that have both a diesel option and a turbo-GDI option at similar performance that can be compared.

At the same or similar performance based on manufacturer's 0-100 km/hr times, the diesel options average 27% lower fuel consumption than the GDI versions in the NEDC. They also have nearly 18% lower CO2 emissions averaged over those same vehicles.

Bernard, I agree that making a direct comparison is difficult. It may be even more difficult than you imply. Diesel engines are torquier than gas engines. Take the Dart/Jetta comparison that you cite. The 2.0 TDI engine in the Jetta has 236 lb-ft of torque vs 184 lb-ft for the Dart. Although these two cars are roughly the same size, what this means is that the diesel engine can be (and in Europe is) used in larger vehicles that would normally get a six cylinder or even eight cylinder gas engine. For example that same 2.0 TDI engine can be found in the VW Multivan and Mercedes even offers a four cylinder Diesel in the S-Class in Europe. In these instances, the 18% improvement in fuel economy is probably an understatement, not an overstatement.

On more data point on turbo-GDI vs. diesel.

BMW published minimum BSFC values for both its 3.0 liter turbo-GDI gasoline engine, and for its 3.0 liter two-stage turbo diesel. Both have peak hp of 225 kW. The turbo-GDI engine has all of the latest GDI features, including a "twin-scroll" turbocharger, high-precision injectors, and "VALVETRONIC" fully-variable valve management.

According to BMW, the 3.0 diesel has a minimum BSFC of 197 g/kWh, while the turbo-GDI gasoline engine has a minimum BSFC of 245 g/kWh.

That's a fuel consumption reduction of nearly 20% BY MASS, and gasoline actually has slightly more energy per unit mass than diesel fuel (41.18 BTU/gram (gasoline); 40.39 BTU/gram (ULSD) per Argonne National Laboratory).

Carl, Peter,
One technology typically has more power, one has more torque. Given the prevalence of 6+ speed gearboxes, the difference isn't all that great. I chose those two cars in part because measured performance is within a few tenths of a second in most tests.

Carl,
Those 2 BMW engines shouldn't be compared directly. It's the same issue as comparing the VW's 2.0l TDI to their 2.0 GDI. The GDI is a screaming performance engine that offers much more performance. It makes much more sense to compare engines that deliver similar real-world performance.

Bernard,

That's why I used the BMW 3.0 liter engines as an example. They have the same displacement (3.0 liters) and have EXACTLY the same peak power (225 kW, ~302 hp). The respective torque is 600 nm/442 lb-ft and 400 nm/295 lb-ft.

Performance in the X5 is 6.6 sec 0-100 km/hr for the diesel, and 6.8 sec 0-100 km/hr for the gasoline version (http://www.bmw.com/com/en/newvehicles/x/x5/2010/showroom/compare.html?model_1=xDrive35i&model_2=xDrive40d). Fuel consumption in the combined NEDC is 7.5 liters/100 km and 10.1 liters/100 km, respectively.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have found at least 17 European vehicles with GDI gasoline and diesel options with essentially the same performance (within 5% based on manufacturers' 0-100 km/hr times). I would be happy to list them if you're interested.

Keep in mind also that diesel is more energy dense per unit volume than gasoline. That also adds considerable advantage in the seeming energy efficiency for diesel. The actual energy efficiency difference between diesel and gasoline is considerably less when comparing per kg of fuel instead of per liter.

Carl,

You shouldn't put too much faith in the NEDC numbers. No one in Europe does. Their cycle uses a part of the powerband that is almost impossible to maintain in real traffic, and which is more favourable to diesels (lower pumping losses). In other words, if you are going to buy a 70,000 Euro, 225kW car and only ever use a whisper of throttle, you may see some correlation with NEDC numbers. Otherwise no.

I understand that presently the refineries in North America (where autos are 98 % gas vs. 2 % diesel) are set up to produce gas – they produce 45% gas and 25% Diesel (sounds like enough Diesel to me).

And strong international demand for diesel has placed a premium on diesel fuel imports.

And ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel created $8 billion in refinery infrastructure upgrades.

And the federal tax on diesel is 24.4 ¢/g, versus 18.4 for gas.

So, sounds like price for Diesel will come down eventually ?

Until then, the lessening MPG advantage, the engine complexity, the engine and fuel cost and stink are not worth it.

And PLEASE no childish BS about speculators and evil oil ripping us off.

Bernard,

Actually, I was aware that the NEDC was typically considerably optimistic, although it is my understanding that it's just as difficult to achieve with gasoline vehicles as diesels.

Anyway, that doesn't change the example I gave of the BMW 3.0 liter, 225 kW gasoline and diesel engines' BSFC. I've shown where the 0-100 km/hr performance is essentially the same (actually, slight advantage for the diesel), and the minimum BSFC is 197 g/kWh and 245 g/kWh, respectively. If my calculations are correct, the diesel has a 26.8% higher efficiency (BTE) than the gasoline version on an energy-equivalent basis.

By way of reference, according to that same report, the "previous" versions of this engine series had a minimum BSFC of 205 g/kWh for the diesel version, and 248 g/kWh for the gasoline version, which is about a 23.3% efficiency advantage for the diesel. So it appears that turbo-GDI technology not only isn't closing the gas/diesel efficiency gap, it's actually widening, at least in this case.

I don't see how you can have a more "apples-to-apples" comparison than that.

Carl,

The manufacturers themselves only claim an 18% efficiency advantage for diesels (as per the website in the article above), so I suspect that the example that you provide has more to say about those two specific engines (and BMW's design and marketing goals) than it does about the underlying technology.

The fact that BMW only claims 75kW per litre for the GDI engine hints to this. BMW gets 96 kW/litre from their Mini JCW engine, so that tells you that the 3.0l GDI may be "sandbagging," perhaps in the hope of up-selling customers to M models.

@Herm

About the forth post down from the top, Herm states:

You will save about $10k in 10 years by purchasing a Prius vs a Golf TDI, likely to be far more reliable and no scheduled timing belt replacement.

I am left wondering how much the timing belts cost to replace vs. a battery pack replacement for the Prius? A well informed shade tree mechanic can do a VW Timing Belt replacement in an afternoon for about $300 in parts? What is the "parts" cost for a replacement Prius Battery? Ooops! - there just went a big chunk of your savings... An if you do a lot of freeway driving, I seriously doubt anyone could save $10K on fuel costs with a Prius vs a Golf TDI - the savings would likely go the other direction...

Those Prius batteries last forever, VW timing belts not so much. We can talk about the diesel high pressure fuel pump if you prefer.

We had 'clean coal', 'clean medical tobacco', 'clean tar sands', 'clean blue NG', 'clean shale gas' etc and now we will have 'clean Diesel' campaign!

What will be the next lies?

As for maintenance costs, VW will almost always be higher than Toyota. After having owned two of each, I can vouch for that. They need more repairs and their parts are not cheap.

As with NEDC figures, US EPA fuel economy tests tend to make gasoline/petrol cars look better than they perform in real-world driving, where as diesels tend to do at least as well as EPA. I'm a leadfoot, and my '05 Golf TDI gets 38-42mpg in the city.

Several years ago, I read that diesel fuel requires less energy to refine per volume than gasoline. I have not been able to find hard numbers for newer ULSD, although I'd venture a guess that the gap has closed considerably due to the extra refining steps, including hydrodesulferization.

What sold me on the Golf TDI vs. Prius is the fact that trailer towing will void the Prius warranty. My Golf can comfortably tow a 1200lb/550kg trailer if it has its own brakes.

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