My brother in law lives near West Palm Beach, FL, and every summer he does the trek to the family cabin outside of Traverse City, MI. It’s about 1,525 miles each way, and if he owned a VW Passat BlueMotion diesel, he could make the trip without stopping for fuel. If, that is, the Passat BlueMotion diesel were available in the United States.
A 2010 VW Passat BlueMotion diesel, piloted by a journalist from the UK’s Sunday Times, just set a world record by going 1,531 miles on a single 20.4 gallon tank of diesel fuel. If you do the math, that works out to be slightly better than 75 miles per gallon, which is substantially better than real-world highway mileage returned by hybrid vehicles. The record attempt was monitored by officials from Guinness World Records, and the vehicle in question was a standard production Passat BlueMotion. I’m sure the driver did what he could to pad the numbers (draft a few tractor trailers, perhaps?), but there were no other modifications done to the vehicle.
Which raises a good point: why are we having hybrid cars rammed down our throats by virtually every manufacturer, when clean diesels are a viable (and already in production) alternative? It can’t be because of emission standards in the US, since the EU’s latest standards are much more stringent. The only reason I can think of is the misperception that, “Americans don’t like diesels”.
What American’s don’t like is cars that don’t work well. Twenty five or thirty years ago, this included diesels, and Oldsmobile (among others) failed miserably in their attempts to bring diesel to the masses in the early 1980s. Today’s diesels are a whole different breed, and they have none of the problems associated with earlier oil burners. Diesel fuel (including the low sulphur stuff required by modern engines) is more common than it ever has been, and diesel powered cars are a lot more enjoyable to drive (in my opinion, at least) than hybrids. VW has no problem in selling every TDI they import, so when will other manufacturers learn that Americans will embrace diesels, so long as they don’t suck?