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Clean Diesel Cars and SUVs Compete for Green Mantle at 2009 LA Auto Show


LOS ANGELES, December 2, 2009; In the midst of one of the greenest LA Auto Shows in recent years, clean diesel vehicle technology is putting up stiff competition for the leadership mantle in vehicle fuel economy and environmental performance.

Volkswagen today unveiled a 70-mpg concept vehicle called the "Up! Lite," powered by a two-cylinder clean diesel engine paired with an electric motor. Executives from VW announced they expect the Up! Lite will lead to further diesel technology offerings in the 2011 model year and beyond. Company executives also said the current TDI lineup is steadily gaining popularity in the U.S., with sales of 50,000 TDI models since they were introduced in the 2009 model year.

Meanwhile, two clean diesels are in the running for the 2010 Green Car of the Year Award, sponsored by Green Car Journal, at the show. The 2010 Audi A3 TDI and the VW Golf TDI are competing against three hybrid electric models for the honor. The 2009 Green Car of the Year was another clean diesel model, the VW Jetta TDI.

Among the clean diesel vehicles featured at the 2009 LA Auto Show are the 2010 Audi A3 TDI and Q7 TDI. The Q7 TDI was just awarded the Earth, Wind & Power Award during the show as the "most environmentally progressive truck of the year."

BMW also highlighted its 335d and X5 xDrive35d and the Vision EfficientDynamics concept diesel hybrid car, which features a three-cylinder diesel engine combined with an electric motor that delivers 62.5 mpg.

In its display, Mercedes-Benz shows its trio of clean diesel SUV/crossover models - the GL, ML and R BlueTECs.

"Clean diesel technology continues to prove its competitiveness in real-world fuel economy, environmental and on-road performance," said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum, an industry educational trade group based in Washington, DC, with offices in Sacramento.

"These news developments at the LA Auto Show illustrate why it is so important to attack automotive fuel economy and environmental challenges with a multi-pronged technology approach," Schaeffer said.

"For example, pairing a clean diesel engine with an electric motor provides hybrid vehicles even better fuel economy than they already get with a gasoline engine. There aren't many limits on where diesel technology can take us in terms of squeezing as much mileage from a drop of fuel as possible while maintaining the safety, comfort and on-road performance cars drivers demand," Schaeffer said.

As for the price difference between gasoline and diesel fuel, Schaeffer said the diesel option remains less expensive due to the diesel engine's higher efficiency. "Even at higher costs per gallon, diesel provides a significant cost savings if you do the math," he said.

To make his point, Schaeffer pointed to a cost calculator on the front page of the DTF website that helps convert the cost savings into concrete terms.


The Diesel Technology Forum is a non-profit national organization dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of diesel engines, fuel and technology, and working with policymakers and other stakeholders on common solutions. Forum members are leaders in clean diesel technology and represent the three key elements of the modern clean-diesel system: advanced engines, vehicles and equipment, cleaner diesel fuel and emissions-control systems.