Higher Fuel Economy Standards Will Increase Clean Diesel Car & Truck Choices for Consumers

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“With new standards being developed to substantially increase fuel economy, the diesel engine will be even more attractive to drivers because of its high fuel efficiency that doesn’t sacrifice performance.” – Allen Schaeffer, DTF Executive Director

Clean diesel engines will allow manufacturers to continue to provide consumers with the full range of vehicles they want, from fuel efficient family sedans and crossover SUVs, to full size pickup trucks, which continue to rank in the top five best selling vehicles in the U.S. – all this without sacrificing performance for fuel economy.

Allen Schaeffer, the executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum, today issued the following statement on the Obama Administration’s announcement that it was beginning the process of developing “tougher” greenhouse gas and fuel efficiency requirements for cars and light trucks for model years 2017 through 2025.

European Drivers Already Rely On Diesel Cars for Increased Fuel Efficiency
“Meeting the pending ‘tougher’ fuel efficiency targets will require many different solutions and we’re more confident than ever that clean diesel technology is going to be one of those solutions. Only time will tell if the American consumer is ready for plug-in electric vehicles, but they are already telling us loud and clear today that they are ready for more clean diesel technology.

“In Europe, over 50 percent of all the automobiles on the streets today are diesel cars due to their high fuel efficiency, low emissions and long-term durability. While a more modest three percent of cars and light trucks in America are diesel at this moment, these new fuel efficiency targets will dramatically increase the importance of clean diesel cars to U.S. drivers.

Diesel Car Sales Were Up A Whopping 52 Percent in August 2010 - In The U.S.
“Diesel car sales in August 2010 were up a whopping 52 percent from the previous August, and up by 20 percent over July 2010, highlighting American consumers growing recognition of the benefits of clean diesel technology as a new fuel efficient, economical choice with proven long-term value.

“Now more than ever, consumers are cautious with their automotive investment dollars looking more for long-term value, performance and confidence, all of which they get with a diesel vehicle. The technology is proven and clean diesel fuel is now available alongside gasoline blends at more than half of all service stations throughout the country. In addition, the resale value of diesel vehicles has traditionally been higher than for comparable gasoline models. And there are still federal tax credits available for many diesel cars through the end of this year.

“Even with fewer choices for consumers, clean diesel car sales indicate a growing consumer acceptance. Today, U.S. consumers can choose from 14 cars, trucks or SUVs with a clean diesel engine, compared to 34 choices of hybrid technologies. The next diesel entry into the U.S. market will be Mazda, which announced earlier this year that its SKY-D clean diesel engine will be available here in the 2012 timeframe as a new option in one or more vehicles.

“The national clean car program and the pending GHG and fuel efficiency standards will certainly make the diesel engine a much more attractive alternative in that it achieves higher fuel efficiency without sacrificing vehicle tradeoffs like size and performance.

“Clean diesel engines will allow manufacturers to continue to provide consumers with the full range of vehicles they want, from fuel efficient family sedans and crossover SUVs, to full size pickup trucks, which continue to rank in the top five best selling vehicles in the U.S. – all this without sacrificing performance for fuel economy.”    

Fact Sheet

Notice of Intent Proposed Rulemaking to Establish Greenhouse Gas Emissions
And Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards
For 2017 and Later Model Year Light duty Vehicles

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

In May of 2010, President Obama, in a Rose Garden Ceremony announced a new effort to propose greenhouse gas (GHG) and fuel efficiency standards for medium and heavy-duty trucks and to begin the process for establishing further corporate average fuel economy (CAFÉ) standards for light duty vehicles. (Note—this fact sheet focuses only on the light duty vehicle aspects of this rule. A separate statement will be issued by DTF on the medium and heavy duty truck action.)

Why is this Administration Action important?

  •     It begins the process to establish the future fuel economy and GHG emissions requirements of light duty cars and light trucks. Ultimately these policies will have a substantial impact on new vehicle design, fuels and operations in the 2017 and beyond timeframe.

Will the process require certain fuels and technologies should be used to meet the goals?

  •     No. Typically, NHTSA will establish standards and conditions for manufacturers to meet. Each manufacturer will then make their own technology choices based on anticipated customer needs and their product lineups.

What are the likely strategies that manufacturers could use to meet higher fuel economy requirements in the future?

  •     There are many variables and it is impossible to predict at this stage without knowing the fuel economy and GHG goals, conditions, testing requirements and other factors to determine with certainty which technologies can compete. Here are some of the most likely:

o    Downsizing and light-weighting of vehicles across the board will help reduce energy requirements.
o    Advancements in gasoline engines: Improvements in gasoline engines, such as downsizing, turbo-charging and the use of direct injection will yield higher fuel economy.
o    Clean Diesel already delivers 30 percent more mpg than a comparable gasoline engine and can gain further efficiencies in the future.
o    Hybridization: Vehicles such as the upcoming Chevrolet Volt that has a downsized gasoline engine and an advanced hybrid powertrain with battery energy storage.
o    Increased use of electric motors for functions previously run by belts on the engine.
o    Plug-in Hybrid Electric vehicles powered exclusively by electricity.

What are Clean Diesels leading attributes for why it will be a technology choice in meeting these anticipated requirements?

  •     Diesels offer an unmatched combination of fuel efficiency, reliability and durability.

How many diesel cars and trucks are available for consumers today?

  •     Currently there are 14 models of light duty cars and light trucks and heavy-duty pick- up trucks available to consumers. Vehicle manufacturers include BMW, Ford, GM, Mercedes, Ram trucks, and VW. The complete listing can be found here.

What percent of the current market share do diesels have in the United States?

  •     Diesels accounted for just under two percent of new car sales in the U.S. in 2009.

Are there new diesel products coming to the US?

  •     Yes. Mazda announced it plans to bring its clean diesel technology known as SKY-D to the U.S. in 2012 in one or more vehicles. Other manufacturers have had rumored announcements of diesel products but have made no formal announcements.

What are the future market potentials?

  •     All car and truck sales have been impacted by the recession of the last two years. However these predictions highlight the range of confidence for more diesels coming to the U.S.

What about Europe; aren’t diesels popular there?

  •     Yes. Diesels have consistently accounted for nearly 50 percent or more of all new passenger car registrations since 2004 in Western Europe, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association. Last year, diesel cars made up 45.9 percent of all new passenger registrations (13,665,782 units) in Western Europe.

What about diesel fuel—is it as available as gasoline or do you have to go to a truck stop for filling?

  •     Ultra low sulfur clean diesel fuel is more widely available today at more stations than ever before - more than 52 percent of all stations, according to the U.S. Census Bureau (2010).

The Diesel Technology Forum is a non-profit national organization dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of diesel engines, fuel and technology. Forum members are leaders in clean diesel technology and represent the three key elements of the modern clean-diesel system: advanced engines, vehicles and equipment, cleaner diesel fuel and emissions-control systems. For more information visit http://www.dieselforum.org.

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