Diesel: Down But Not Out

Some said diesel would die in America. The data shows otherwise.

Remember Dieselgate? Five years ago, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a notice to Volkswagen* that several of its 2009-2015 diesel powered cars, including the popular Jetta* and Passat,* were in violation of the Clean Air Act. It turns out VW* had intentionally installed software in these vehicles designed to cheat emissions testing. While the engines passed testing in the lab, they emitted up to 40 times more nitrogen oxides than allowable on the road.

The fallout was immense. VW recalled millions of cars and was ordered to pay billions in damages to motorists across the globe. For diesel enthusiasts, the pool of potential vehicles that met their desires for great low-end torque, power and fuel economy shrunk as VW all but left the U.S. with its tail between its legs. And it wasn’t just VW. Subsidiary companies Audi* and Porsche* also pulled back the reigns and followed VW’s lead.

At the time, some pundits predicted the death of diesel in America. But diesel enthusiasts have proven to be a loyal group. They aren’t about to give up the advantages of diesel because a couple companies acted dishonestly.

With scrutiny trained on European diesel brands after Dieselgate, American automakers stepped in to fill the void. We’re accustomed to seeing powerful turbodiesel engines under the hoods of American pickups. Ford* is famous for its Power Stroke* engine, Chevrolet* has the Duramax* and RAM* offers its Cummins.* What do all these engines have in common? They power big, three-quarter-ton and larger pickups with pavement-shredding torque and enough power to pull a ranch house down the freeway at 80 mph (129 km/h).

Another common trait, however, is their giant sticker prices. We’re talking about trucks that can cost more than a starter house in some parts of the country. You can easily drop $60,000 on one of these pickups, and quite a bit more once you add a few enticing options. Heck, in 2019, the fully loaded versions of all three major brands topped $100,000 for the first time in history.

Many people don’t have that kind of dough for a truck, but they still want the added power, torque and fuel economy of a diesel engine. Some, too, simply like the idea of owning something different that’ll help them stand out from the gasoline-powered crowd.

All that adds up to a demand for diesel engines in smaller, half-ton pickups and other passenger vehicles. Enough motorists are willing to drop about $5,000 for the diesel option in their vehicle to have convinced U.S. manufacturers to step in and fill a market traditionally dominated by European manufacturers.

The RAM EcoDiesel* engine, for example, has been around for six years. You can get one in your 2020 RAM 1500 pickup, and it’ll return a reported 260 hp and 480 lb-tt, of torque. Not bad for a “Iight-duty” truck. Not to be outdone, Ford introduced a 3.0L V-6 diesel option for the F-150* in 2018. And, of course, Chevy offers a Duramax in some of its vehicles. Jeep* lovers can also opt for diesel power in some Wrangler,* Comanche* and Cherokee* models.

These smaller diesel engines continue to gain followers. They usually offer about 3.0 liters of displacement, although the engine that powers recent models of the Cruze,* Equinox* and GMC* Terrain* checks in at just 1.6L. That’s quite a bit smaller than the engines under the hoods of the full-size pickups. But don’t be fooled – these engines pack some powerful torque and they do so in a vehicle that rides considerably nicer than three-quarter-ton and larger trucks.

An estimated 200,000 smaller diesels are in operation in America now, which is 58 percent more than 2019. Even with coronavirus-slowed vehicle sales this year, we expect those numbers to increase. Many automakers ran deep discounts during the spring and summer, and millions of Americans received stimulus checks that I bet went toward at least a few new-vehicle purchases.

So, why am I telling you all this? For starters, as a diesel enthusiast, I’m always happy when other motorists discover the benefits of driving a diesel. And, as one who works each day to improve our portfolio of diesel products, this burgeoning diesel market offers great promise. Unfortunately, we don’t have a product specifically tailored to smaller diesel vehicles, yet. We currently recommend AMSOIL Synthetic European Motor Oil for some U.S. vehicles. While it’s a great product, there’s a disconnect in the customer’s mind when we recommend a “European” oil for an American vehicle. Many other oil companies do the same thing.

I’m happy to say that we’re about to change that. Look for a new addition to our diesel oil line soon specifically tailored to this growing market. It’ll be labeled and marketed in the best way to help earn the trust and business of these drivers. And, of course, it’ll provide industry-leading protection and performance. It wouldn’t be an AMSOIL product if it didn’t. So, get out to your local dealership and give one of these smaller diesel vehicles a test drive. You may have just found your next vehicle.

*All trademarked names and images are the property of their respective owners and may be registered marks in some countries. No affiliation or endorsement claim, express or implied, is made by their use. All products advertised here are developed by AMSOIL for the use in the application shown.

Reproduced With The Permission Of AMSOIL INC. All Rights Reserved.

SLS Note: AMSOIL has announced to Dealers that they will be introducing several new diesel oils in December. These new 100% Synthetic Diesel Oils are specially designed for smaller American diesel pickups, vans, cars and SUVs requiring GM dexosD, dexos2; Chrysler MS-11106; Ford WSS-M2C214-B1 or ACEA C3 specifications. Available in 0W-20 and 5W-30 viscosities, it provides outstanding protection, performance and fuel economy during heavy use and extreme temperatures. Not for use in applications that require an API CK-4 (or prior) specification.

So, if you have a diesel vehicle requiring oil that meets one of these specs., AMSOIL will soon have a 100% Synthetic Diesel Oil for you.

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