lsayre wrote:Are we so shallow that we can't see what the rest of the world is (and has been) doing, and we can only dwell upon the GM 1980's Diesel disaster?
Not shallow but uneducated...since you rarely hear anything about current diesels in anything mainstream - magazines, TV, etc. - the general public still remembers the "heyday" of the diesel in the 80's with bog-slow, smelly, smoky, clattering and leaking piles of Big Three junk. Even the Rabbit was loud, smelly, and painfully slow. At least it got good mileage and the engine didn't eat itself every 40 or 50,000 miles.
Today, many people view diesels with a dim view due to all the idiot rednecks driving around their Cummins or Duramaxes chipped or otherwise tweaked to add tons of fuel and a big straight pipe, either out the back or up through the bed. These idiots and their "brodozers" revel in "rollin' coal" and essentially making people think diesels are just nasty.
Americans have been perverted by advertised power, 0-60 times, and faster = better. With the enviro-hippies throwing around all the junk-science, diesels have become Public Enemy #2 - right behind #1 - coal. So, our friendly EPA has made it almost impossible to certify a diesel engine without adding so much crap to it to control emissions that it becomes as unreliable as the junk from the 80's and the fuel economy goes down to where a gas engine is both cheaper and far simpler and gets almost the same fuel mileage.
The Europeans have long viewed vehicle emissions with less importance on NOx and more importance on unburned HC, CO, and CO2 output (and most lately, soot/particulates). With less stringent NOx requirements, it allows less EGR which causes less engine deposits and wear, and the engines produce less soot in the first place with less EGR. My Liberty smoked like a tire fire, even at light throttle, all the time. It would blow great clouds of soot when you really tromped on it after a few weeks of easy driving. After the EGR was eliminated, it almost eliminated smoke output except for WOT, and the oil, which previously would turn into a black mess that was impossible to remove from your skin after just a few miles, now stays much cleaner without all that soot.
It's unfortunate that the "real" diesels from Europe are generally unavailable in the USA, aside from the VWs. The BMW 335d is a spectacular sedan - 40mpg, clean, quiet and FAST! But BMW only sends us the rather loaded up versions which are north of $40K. They have a 4 cylinder 3 series diesel (320d or such) in Europe along with wagon versions (which I love - my Jetta is a wagon) and manual transmissions. We get none of that. Mercedes, same deal. That seriously limits the market penetration of high tech diesels.
The other side of the coin is that it is probably a good thing they don't send them here (and Ford and GM do not sell their European diesel engines here) because diesels don't tolerate poor maintenance, and the latest generations especially so. Many times they require synthetic oil (diesel rated), special oil filters, etc. The current Wal-Mart generation essentially shops on price only, so the $19.95 special down at Joe's Lube Haus will be it and whatever no-name oil he pumps will be going in your engine. On something like the VW PD TDI engine, that will guarantee you a new camshaft at 100k miles if it makes it that far.