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Japanese and European Carmakers to Start Clean Diesel

Desperate times call for desperate measures and the worsening problem on global warming is an emergency that requires an immediate solution. Everybody needs to pitch in to help. The European and Japanese auto makers plans to invade Canada and the United States with 2008 models that run on clean-diesel models that deliver better fuel economy as compared to their gasoline-burning counterparts.

The new clean diesels are to be equipped with soot-cleaning technology plus eco-friendly auto components such as the Mercedes fuel injection that will minimize harmful emissions and at the same time will pass the most stringent emissions standards.

It also seems that the new-clean diesel trend is gaining popularity and soon will be reaching a critical mass. The many contenders would include a range of Mercedes-Benz SUVs with Bluetec diesels (M-Class, R-Class, and the GL-Class). BMW is also planning to bring its popular turbo diesel engines while Nissan is telling us about its diesel Maxima sedan.

Europe's largest automaker which for so long has sold diesel in the US is planning to convert to new cleaner diesel technology starting in 2008. The "Blue Motion" system of Volkswagen which was borrowed from Mercedes' Bluetec system will be offered as part of the new TDI Jetta.

The only likely problem that these automakers will face is in terms of consumer acceptance since at this time many buyers think that gasoline-electric hybrids are the best green option for them. Aside from that many buyers are still wondering if the new diesels are good and clean enough to make people forget the sooty emissions and poor reliability of diesel powered vehicles during the 70s and 80s.

Another factor that is seen to affect consumer acceptance is the price of gasoline which seldom fall by the way. Ethanol which would have been a good alternative of clean fuel has also received many criticisms especially in terms of its efficiency and availability.

But the biggest barrier of all is the oil industry since it all depends on them whether they would want to take part on the global effort to get rid of pollution by shifting an enormous part of their investments in clean-diesel refining in order to supply the world with the clean diesel fuel that it needs. And if in case the oil industry takes part on the clean diesel fuel move, the next question will be: are they also willing to spend on user-friendly diesel filling pumps for passenger cars and light trucks. At present, there are already very few filling stations both in Canada and the US that offer diesel.

Clean diesel fuel powered cars will have to compete with hybrids. The selling point of clean diesel fuel is the fact that it performs well in various driving conditions as compared to hybrid vehicles that obtain fuel efficiency only in city driving. Diesel cars consume 20-to-40 percent less than gasoline cars.

Europeans have already shifted to the use of diesels and it was even made easier when the government has lowered fuel taxes to encourage customers to shift to diesel. Another advantage of the Europeans is that they have had longer years of access to clean fuels. And at present, more than half of the cars sold in Europe are diesel.

And according to the market researcher J.D. Power diesel cars and light trucks will take 11.8 percent of the US market by 2015 as compared to the 4.86 percent for hybrids. The trends are also similar in Canada.

Unfortunately no one can really tell the outcome of the coming surge of the new clean diesel fuel. DaimlerChrysler AG said that its new emissions technology will make diesel as clean and as efficient as gasoline.

The technology that DaimlerChrysler is referring to is the Bluetec system which makes use of a catalytic converter and specialized fuel filters to reduce the emission of harmful nitrogen oxide. The automaker is also confident that its Bluetec technology will convert North American drivers to diesel and provide hybrids finally with a worthy opponent.

And lastly every change has its price and the shift to clean diesel fuel will require for additional equipment on the part of automakers. In terms of production cost the hybrid is not far from diesel, so the competition will be on the technology.

About The Author Dwyane Thomas is a part time cook and full-time auto-enthusiast. This 31-year old Civil and Environmental graduate is a consultant at one of the engineering firms in Pennsylvania.
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