Diesel is definitely a niche market for passenger cars. Other companies won't even think about retooling their lines for diesel until they know they can easily sell high volumes. The Euro car makers can do this at almost no cost whatsoever right now. Even though demand is high for TDIs, when you look at total sales compared to say Accords/Camry's, it is definitely niche.
All true, but it begs the big question: is it a niche large enough to flourish? I don't have the answer but as I suggested above, dismissing a niche because it is a small percentage of a HUGE market is a mistake the "experts" seem to like to repeat.
I am sure this is nothing new but the February Automobile Magazine
has a good article of automakers backing off diesel production.
The article says GM, Ford, Honda and Nissan are definitely out of the diesel market for the near future. THey also say Subaru has not formally nixed diesel but is exploring more hybrid technology. They say Mazda may do the CX-7 and CX-9 in diesel. GM has abandoned the diesel in its Duramax heavy duty truck after a lot of cash for R and D.
That of course leaves Bimmer with the 335d and X5 here and the Mercedes 2 or 3 SUV's and I think Jeep CHerokee.
The article sites unstable fuel prices, peoples unfamiliarity with diesel fuel and high gas prices in Europe for the diesel only being popular in Europe and not here. Such a load of XXXX about people being not familiar with Diesel.
What is there to do other than find a station that sells it and put the pump handle in the gas tank. OMG you would think we are a nation of idiots.
One article also pointed out the 335d has more torque that a chevy Corvette.
I even had a guy two weeks ago yelling at me at a gas station saying "heh that pump is for diesel" What a kick!
I think a major factor is still the stinky, noisy, smoke producing image of a diesel Mercedes in the past and city buses in more recent times. Several people I've talked to still don't believe diesel passenger cars of today are just as clean, if not cleaner than their gasoline counterparts.
Another factor is that they can't tell the difference between horsepower and torque. People buy horsepower, but they want torque.
So, when it comes down to crunch time, people looking for performance, they saw the lower horsepower (but ignore the higher torque), slower acceleration times on diesel cars and the price premium -- they'd rather go with a price/performance of gasoline car. For those shopping for economy, they saw the comparable MPG, but still have that dirty image diesel of the past in mind, compare that with the image of electric-power futuristic miracles of a hybrid, which would they pick?
With regards to the "unfamiliarity with diesel", I'm sure, if people can learn to press a button to start a hybrid car, they can learn to put diesel fuel in their tank. I'm wondering whether the author him/herself knows anything about the difference between diesel and gasoline at all (whatever the difference the author was referring to), to suggest that as the reason for diesel's lack of popularity.
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