The Americans are discovering (slowly) the diesel car: "Anyone who has driven it once is thrilled" - but prejudices are tough.

Diesel petrol pump in Los Angeles

Diesel petrol pump in Los Angeles

The story is still going on around us that diesel can only be found at dirty gas stations in the USA, where truckers also fill their tanks. That is a long time ago and may still be the case in a few small towns in the Midwest. In the "emission-strict" state of California, most petrol pumps do not differ from German ones. Diesel and the various types of petrol usually share a pillar, just like ours.

And what about the price? There were times when diesel was significantly more expensive than premium gasoline, but that too has changed. Today, diesel is often a few cents cheaper than petrol. So reason enough for the Americans to switch to diesel? It is not that easy for German manufacturers, because the prejudices from the 8s remain in the minds of many US customers. At that time, Detroit used VXNUMX engines converted to diesel, which sooted like a truck, did not really have power and had to be refilled at the truck pillar.

Yesterday's American diesel world is also a thing of the past when it comes to cleanliness. The sulfur content is at the European level and the strictest emissions regulations are also complied with by German manufacturers, who have been allowed to sell diesel in all 50 states for a long time.

And what about diesel in America now? With a BMW X5 xDrive35d, I drove to some dealers of the German diesel suppliers in the Los Angeles area, spoke to sellers and customers. My research can be summarized as follows: The art is for the seller to even persuade a prospect to consider a diesel. “Very rarely do car buyers ask for a diesel model of their own accord,” says a BMW seller. The experience at VW is different, where customers are often interested in a diesel model from the outset.

Often, the salespeople are the brakes because they have a distant relationship with the auto-ignition technology and don't even get diesel into the conversation. But there are also enthusiasts in the showroom: “My whole family drives VW diesel. We don't want anything else. Endless torque, many miles per gallon. Diesel is fun to drive. And I also say that to my customers, ”Joel Edwards from Pasadena is convinced.

BMW salesman Kenneth Rutherford from Long Beach: “When I can get a customer to test drive a diesel, they are surprised at how the car accelerates. When I tell him that fuel consumption is significantly lower than that of his petrol engine, he thinks. But then it's often the wife who still thinks the diesel is a sooty stinker. And often the man falls over, turns away and then orders a gasoline engine. ”

Nevertheless, the diesel market in the USA is slowly picking up steam. And there are currently only German manufacturers that offer diesel in cars. General Motors will serve the market next year with the Chevrolet Cruze turbodiesel. It is said to be offered at a competitive price.

From January to April 2013 Audi (340), Mercedes-Benz 578, VW sold 27.420 (!) Diesel cars in the USA. In the passenger car segment, the 1,1 percent share of diesels sold in the overall market is a homeopathic figure. In view of the Americans' earlier skepticism about diesel, however, a success for the German manufacturers. BMW is currently only offering the X5 Xdrive35d as a diesel and had sold a decent 2669 vehicles by the end of June. Our BMW salesman Rutherford not only has to do with diesel-critical wives, but also has something to say: “I have already sold over a dozen X5 diesels here this year. Almost every owner calls me at some point to thank me and to get rid of his enthusiasm. "

Diesel remains a tough business in the USA, but the commitment of German manufacturers is slowly picking up steam. This is particularly true for Volkswagen. See above.

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