Sep 8, 2008

Ford: Americans don't want fuel efficient cars

On Saturday I tabled at the Muddy Boot Festival in Portland and encountered the same supportive message that I've been hearing on a day to day basis for the four years I've been with SeQuential: "Biodiesel is a great idea, but I don't have a diesel car!"

I thought it fitting, with that in mind, when I read this article from Grist: Ford's Fiesta ECOnetic, which gets 65 mpg with a diesel engine, won't be sold in America. According to Ford America President Mark Fields, "We just don't think North and South America would buy that many diesel cars".

Now granted I know that the people I've talked to (from both sides of the isle) across little old Oregon don't represent the majority of the people in the US, but I don't understand why US automakers are so hesitant to offer reliable, long lasting, fuel efficient, diesel vehicles. Pass by any auto dealership and you'll see advertisements promoting "30+ MPG!", as if this is impressive and notable. If people are making purchase decisions based on mileage, which you would assume they are with the recent higher gas prices, why not offer US consumers the same car that is already in production elsewhere in the world?

All conspiracy theories aside, I'm baffled - the market is ripe for high mileage cars, especially diesel. Just look at the market for used Volkswagen TDIs - they consistently sell above their blue book values, especially older models that have smaller engines (and better mileage).

7 comments:

Gary H. said...

I think part of the problem is that most consumers aren't aware how much diesels have changed.

My new Jeep is so quiet that some people who've ridden inside don't even realize it's a diesel until they see the CRD badge on the back door.

Even with regular diesel fuel, there isn't any black smoke thanks to the particulate filters that are now mandatory.

Sasha Friedman said...

Great point about perception.

I distinctly remember the first time I got into a diesel passenger vehicle - I think I was 14. A friend's mom was picking us up and as I got in the car, I asked her what was wrong with her engine for it to be making that much noise!

Eric P. said...

Way to go Ford! That's pathetic, but not surprising. You can already buy diesel Toyotas and Subarus, but not in America!? The deceiving term "gas sipper" is tossed around left and right @ dealerships trying to push cars that are slightly less inefficient than the rest. 30mpg is not gas sipping. What's worse to me is that even if Americans could care less about efficiency, they do care about $, and cutting a fuel bill in half isn't attractive to them? Yeah right....

Anonymous said...

Since the reintroduction of the VW TDIs this summer, I'm hearing that dealers are marking them up $4-6K above MSRP, and they're still selling all they have. I really don't buy all the stuff about Americans not wanting Diesel cars.
And US auto makers are closing plants, while VW is opening a new one on US soil!

Anonymous said...

Awesome, Bring back the Rabbit!

Sasha Friedman said...

The rabbit is back, but it is a sport model with a silly, large gas engine in it...

goat said...

Blame CARB. Most of the European diesels can't pass the absurd CARB NOx rules, so they can't be offered here.