I think people have the wrong idea about diesels. In the past they were loud, clattery, and produced smoke and soot. Todays diesels are much cleaner and produce far less emissions, little to no smoke and clatter is much better controlled. In fact generally only under idle are they making any noticeable noise over a gasoline engine. It is also commonly believed they are unable to get going in colder temperatures. This is no longer true with better heating elements in the engines, and additives in the fuel
At one time a lot engines produced for european cars couldn't run on our diesel due it being too unrefined. This prevented many from coming over here and for years people missed out on excellent fuel efficient vehicles. There was one big brand however that sold them. That brand being VW, however people still chose gas over diesel despite large differences in fuel consumption. This makes me believe the lack of availability wasn't the biggest reason why they aren't more common.
I believe the lack of success though is mostly due to lack of education over anything else. People fail to realize the large benefits a diesel motor can provide for them over a gas equivalent. For example if your comparing direct sizes a diesel will generally produce more power and will use less fuel covering the same distance. An example of this comes with BMW 335d which is a 3.0 litre inline 6 cylinder just like the 335i except the "d" indicates diesel. This car produces 265HP which is less than the 335i's 300 but the car also produces 425 Ib/ft of torque or 125 more than the 335i. The 335d also offers far better fuel efficiency and almost identical if not superior performance in some instances (such as passing power).
|Just like the 335i but drinks diesel instead!|
A diesel engine also provides other benefits to average driver they may not realize. An important thing to note when looking at a diesel car is not so much the amount of horsepower produced but the amount of torque. You see torque is what gets you up to speed and allows you to pass other motorists quickly, so the more the better. As you read above, diesels can produce significantly more torque than a gasoline equivalent. Another big aspect is where the power is produced. In most gasoline engines power is produced at the very top of the rev range. This means to get full power you have to rev the engine right up. A diesel produces it's peak power very low in the rev range meaning you don't need to rev the engine high to get power. This is very useful for the average driver because on normal roads you don't want to rev the engine up high and generally don't. Of course this is one of the secrets why a diesel consumes less fuel, it doesn't ever rev high. In fact their low revving nature means that if you do get up to the redline you will actually lose power, and are better off "short shifting" or changing gears earlier rather than later.
So we can see all the benefits of these engines and with more coming on the market now we need to remove any old misconceptions about these engines. I think education is the most important thing to do for people right now, show them how refined and quiet a diesel could be. Emphasize the added power and fuel efficiency. There are never any ads on TV explaining why to purchase a TDI volkswagen over any other (or at least I haven't seen any). We need more of this for diesel to take off here.