Diesel Vehicles Gain Popularity, Good for Biodiesel

John Davis

Diesel-powered vehicles are gaining in popularity, despite the higher price of diesel fuel compared to regular unleaded gasoline. And that rise in interest in those vehicles is good news for the biodiesel industry.

Business Week reports sales are brisk with many makes getting into the business:

Howard Cooper Volkswagen in Ann Arbor, Mich., for example, says that a buyer putting money down today will probably have to wait until January to receive his car. Volkswagen of America plans to sell 15,000 TDI Jettas this year. Next year, VW figures to sell more than 30,000.

The diesel sedan starts at $22,640, including shipping, and the station wagon at $24,240, a premium of about $2,000 over a similarly equipped model with a gasoline engine. BMW is also going ahead with plans to launch a diesel 3 series this fall. It also has plans for an X6 diesel after that. Honda is launching a diesel engine in an Acura sedan in 2010.

Perhaps the company most fully invested in diesel engines is Global Vehicles of Alpharetta, Ga., which plans to roll out Mahindra-branded pickup trucks at the end of 2009 and the first quarter of 2010. Mahindra is the brand marketed by Indian conglomerate Mahindra & Mahindra. Some 200-plus dealers have signed up to sell the vehicles. Global Vehicles Marketing Director Xavier Beguiristain says the company is undeterred, but not unconcerned.

The obvious big attraction is the better mileage diesel vehicles get. Mahindra pickups are expected to get about 30 mpg. That’s more than 50 percent better than full-sized pickups and 30 percent better than some midsize pickups. And VW’s TDI Jetta could get up to 44 miles to the gallon.

This is good news for the biodiesel industry, as the increased production meets the increased demand (or is that the other way around?). Vehicle manufacturers do warn that using homemade biodiesel could void the warranty. So make sure to use commercially-approved biodiesel… at least until that three years, 36,000 miles is up.

Biodiesel, Car Makers