There are very few engine configurations that promise
increased fuel economy and power. There are few
engines that offer this in addition to reliability.
Today, those across the ocean are enjoying the
fruits of diesel technology revolution.
Diesels have experienced a great history here in the
United States. In 1980, General Motors modified
their 350ci gas V8 to run on diesel fuel. The result
however, wasn’t that god. These engines offered
better fuel economy but little else. They were
very slow, and not very reliable.
Mercedes Benz on the other hand, had better luck
in the 1980s with an array of vehicles available
with diesel engines. These great vehicles offered
amazing durability although they were rough, noisy,
and smoked quite a bit. Volkswagon offered diesel
as well, although they had a habit for spewing
blue smoke from the tail pipe.
Throughout the 90s, Benz and Volkwagon offered
diesel vehicles in the United States, with each
generation becoming cleaner, smoother, and more
powerful than the last. Overall, they were a
tough sell as they still lacked the horsepower
that many were seeking.
Today, Mercedes, BMW, Jaguar, Volkswagon, Ford,
and many other manufacturers are offering diesels
to many markets throughout the world. To put it
simple, forget everything you know or think you
know about diesel engines in the United States.
These newer engines benefit from hundreds of
technical innovations. There are several diesels
in Europe that offer better acceleration than
their gasoline counter parts. BMW’s 120d has
163bhp, goes 0 – 60 in under 8 seconds, and
achieves 49.6 miles per gallon.
Benz offers the C320 CDI SE that has 224bhp, and
over 360 lb foot of torque. This car gets just
under 48 mpg on the highway, with an acceleration
of 0 – 60 in under 7 seconds. Throughout North
America, you won’t find a gasoline engine that
offers this unique blend of fuel economy and
The reason why diesels haven’t caught on in
North America comes down to one word – sulfur. We
have too much sulfur in the diesel here in the
United States. This cheap grade of diesel fuel
will run havoc on the more sophisticated diesels
offered overseas and cause an increase in
There is hope however, as refiners will soon be
producing what is known as ultra low sulfur
diesel fuel. This will help to reduce the sulfur
content from 500ppm to 15ppm.
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