Here Come the Clean Diesel-Powered Cars

Survey finds younger drivers considering advantages of new diesel technology and clean, ultra-low sulfur fuels.

Published: 21-Oct-2006

On the heels of the new Ultra-low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD) fuel arriving at the pumps and the launch of the next generation of diesel-powered cars like the 2007 Mercedes- Benz E320 BLUETEC this week, a new omnibus survey has found that 50 percent of Generation Y (18-29 years in age) and 46 percent of Generation X (30-41 years of age) would consider buying or leasing a new clean diesel car. The survey findings echo recent predictions by J.D. Power and Associates that sales of diesel cars will nearly triple in the next ten years as advancements make today's diesels a greener, more fuel efficient and socially responsible alternative to gasoline-powered cars.

The survey of more than 1,000 Americans co-sponsored by the Diesel Technology Forum and Mercedes-Benz USA also found that 70 percent of people still think that Americans are not doing enough to reduce fuel consumption, despite the fact that 69 percent of drivers surveyed reportedly took steps to change their driving practices during the past year in response to soaring gas prices. The findings suggest that American drivers, especially younger ones, are looking for ways to address concerns about fuel consumption and are increasingly turning to alternatives such as diesel-powered cars.
 
ULSD arrived in filling stations nationwide Sunday and contains 97 percent less sulfur than the previous type of diesel fuel. Sulfur has a corrosive effect on engines and is a major cause of particulate emissions. The availability of ULSD enables the use of reliable particulate filters and efficient after-treatment of nitrogen oxides. With the new cleaner fuel, the 2007 Mercedes-Benz E320 BLUETEC luxury sedan, the cleanest diesel automobile in the world, produces dramatically fewer emissions than gasoline-powered cars while maintaining high levels of fuel efficiency, power and performance. Diesel cars are typically 20 to 40 percent more fuel-efficient than gasoline- powered cars and provide superior fuel efficiency relative to both gasoline and hybrid cars during highway driving.

"We are seeing that younger drivers are eager to embrace new clean diesel as they look to reduce their fuel bill and their environmental footprint, thereby demonstrating that they are socially responsible," said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum. "Yet it's also clear that while consumers want greener options that help them save money at the pump, they don't want to forego the performance, reliability and innovative features they have come to expect in today's automobiles."

The survey also revealed that while Americans are increasingly recognizing the improved fuel efficiency of diesel cars, many still have misconceptions about diesel based on vehicles from twenty to thirty years ago. Sixty-four percent of Americans know that diesel-powered cars are more fuel-efficient than gas-powered cars. This is a significant improvement from a 2004 Diesel Technology Forum study when just 17 percent of Americans said "fuel-efficient" came to mind when they heard the word diesel. However, many Americans still think of diesel-powered cars as noisier and less refined than gasoline-powered cars, highlighting the consumer perception shift that must still take place for widespread acceptance of diesel to take place.

"Mercedes-Benz has been a diesel technology leader for years. The roll- out of ULSD in the U.S. provided us the perfect opportunity to introduce our BLUETEC diesel technology as an immediate solution in our ongoing attempt to further reduce emissions for customers," said Bernie Glaser, general manager of product management of Mercedes-Benz USA. "The E320 BLUETEC is a clear choice for those seeking better value on fuel spending and reduced environmental impact while still enjoying the benefits of a high performance luxury sedan without any compromises."

The 2007 E320 BLUETEC meets the most stringent emissions standards and helps customers make tangible fuel savings. The BLUETEC system depends on the use of ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel (less than 15 parts per million). The E320 BLUETEC incorporates four after-treatment units in the exhaust stream -- an oxidizing catalytic converter, a particulate filter, an advanced "denox" storage converter, and a catalytic converter.

Survey Methodology

The Diesel Technology Forum and Mercedes Benz commissioned Opinion Research Corporation (ORC) of Princeton, N.J., to conduct a national telephone survey between September 21 and 24, 2006, among a national probability sample of 1,023 adults (508 men and 515 women) 18 years of age and older, living in private households in the continental U.S. The margin of error, at a 95 percent confidence level, is plus or minus three percentage points.

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