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Chrysler Chief on Hybrids and Diesels in the US

In an interview published today in Der Tagesspeigel, Chrysler Group chief Dieter Zetsche gives his perspectives on diesels and hybrids in the US market. [Any translation errors are mine.]

Basically, we position ourselves as a company with the challenge of designing our vehicles to be ever more environmentally sustainable. We will also offer the appropriate solutions and concepts for California [with its more stringent regulations]. And of course we accept that there is tension between the manufacturers and the policy. We believe that there is a large potential for diesels in the USA to reduce CO2-emissions and fuel consumption. [...]

All in all, the market potential for diesels in the USA does not improve with differences in fuel prices [between diesel and gasoline], because the difference between gasoline and diesel is minimal in the USA. The advantage of diesel for US customers lies in overall lower fuel consumption.[...]

Toyota and also Honda have done better than expected in the US with hybrids. But hybrids primarily show their advantages in stop-and-go traffic. During constant travel on the highway, for instance, the advantages are found in the reverse for technical reasons. However there is however no question that we considered the issue too much from the engineering side and that we did not adequately calculate the political and marketing side. We are late, and Toyota with its hybrids is clearly is in front in the public perception. Together with GM we are developing the next technology stage for hybrid drives, so that although we are coming later, it is with a leading technology at a justifiable cost.



I will be very interested to see what their project with GM yields, and what Toyota and Honda will be producing at the same time, i.e. 2007. I'm more than a bit skeptical about their chances of erasing that big a lead all at once, but I'd love to see it happen--the more good choices consumers have and the more genuine competition in the market, the better it is for everyone.


" a justifiable cost", hmmm.


I don't know if you've read The Innovator's Dilemma/Solution books (I've read the first but not the second), but I very much enjoyed this talk (audio here) on disruptive technologies.

He reinforces the idea of "go to where the money will be, and not where the money is now."

That strikes me as capturing very much of the hybrid situation. I think Toyota has gone to where the money will be.

John McConnell

It seems clear to me a significant direction of cars is diesels, hybrids, and plug in hybrids, with the ultimate car - for the next quarter of a century - being the plug-in hybrid diesel. It looks like car companies are all seeing that ultrafuel economy will become a necessity for their survival.


When I've shopped for diesel cars here in California, I've been told by VW dealers that they'd have to wait to see if the state would let them bring more it. If that wasn't "salesmanship" it seems that they are on some sort of allocation for consumer diesels right now. FWIW.


pfft. that should be "more in" not "more it"


The CARB states, including Calif, have banned new diesel passenger vehicles until their exhaust can be cleaned up some more (not taking into account it can be done with biodiesel right now). You should see new diesel VWs sold in 2006, when the Fed mandated ultra low sulphur diesel (ULSD)fuel is introduced.

john mcconnell

That's strange about the CARB states. I'm in one, Vermont, and a friend just bought a diesel here no problem. Is it limited to a certain number per state?


Re: CARB - well, there's a lot of discussion in the forums over at, but the gist is that certain states (Calif, I know for sure) only allow "used" new diesel cars to be sold. IE: they have to have at least 7500 miles on them. Among other OK's to buy is if replacing a car that was totaled while out-of-state. So there ARE certain ways to get those lovely diesel cars into the "banned" states.


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