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Could Americans be ready (finally) for diesel cars?

Some car companies -- like General Motors -- think Americans might be ready to buy more diesel cars, as gas prices rise.

GM will offer a diesel version of its Chevy Cruze in the U.S. next year.

Early diesels in the U.S. had performance problems, like engine knocking.

But Charlie Klein of GM says modern diesel engines are dramatically better than in the past.

"Those that have driven them, they are terrific to drive," says Klein.  "And of course they deliver terrific fuel efficiency."

But Dan Kapp of Ford Motor Company says the company is not planning to import its European diesel cars to the U.S. -- at least not in the near future.

"What it boils down to to me is the economics as a customer would see it," notes Kapp.  "They’re still very expensive, and importantly, the price of diesel fuel relative to gasoline is the biggest variable there."

Toyota doesn’t see much of a market for diesel cars in the U.S. either.

The company is betting that Americans will buy more gasoline-hybrid cars if gas prices rise, rather than diesels.

Executives with the companies attended an annual conference in Traverse City hosted by the Center for Automotive Research.


Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.