Vincentric analyzed 23 diesels on sale in the United States—11 of them classified as commercial vehicles and 12 as consumer vehicles. It looked at overall cost of ownership for five years, with 15,000 miles driven annually. Based on this analysis, nine diesels had five-year ownership costs that are lower than equivalent models with gas engines,
Vincentric, a research firm in Bingham Farms, Mich., specializes in calculating cost of ownership for vehicles and tracks more than 2,000 models. Eight factors go into its cost of ownership calculations: depreciation, financing, fees and taxes, fuel, insurance, maintenance, repairs and opportunity cost.
“Clean-diesel” technology, emissions are now cleaner than what comes from many gasoline vehicles—which is a major role reversal.
“An additional noteworthy point is that on a percentage basis, diesels have lower depreciation, but because they cost more to purchase, their total dollars of depreciation are higher,”
Diesel sales jumped 27.5 percent in the first half of the year, compared with a 14.9 percent increase in total new car sales, according to data compiled by Hybridcars.com and Baum & Associates, a research firm in West Bloomfield, Mich.
“The range of these vehicles is really quite phenomenal,” says Schaeffer, who drives a Mercedes E350 Bluetec. “Some have a range of over 700 miles on a single tank of fuel. They might cost $75 or so to fill up, but then you might not be filling up again for a couple weeks.”
But diesel buyers are attracted by more than just extra miles per gallon, he says. They appreciate that clean-diesel technology is proven and robust, and they like the way the vehicles drive, with their torquey engines that provide good acceleration.
Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum, sees diesel sales “easily doubling” in the next three to five years as automakers introduce new models. Audi, BMW, Chrysler, General Motors, Mazda and Mercedes have all announced plans to launch new diesel vehicles.
The details remain in flux, but new entries from Chrysler, GM and Mazda in particular have the potential to really move diesel from the fringes to the masses by offering the technology in popular affordable models—such as the Chevrolet Cruze, in GM’s case—Schaeffer says.