Loving the Diesel

Farmer Iron

Trip to Germany got me in touch with smooth-running diesel vehicle and wishing for a good choice here.

Published on: December 9, 2013

Farmers love diesel tractors and combines, they have the torque needed to get the job done, and they're essentially more economical than gasoline engines might be in the same application. But what about cars?

The arrival of common rail diesel technology in commercial applications has been a boon to users of these high-tech engines. As I think about my trip to Germany for Agritechnica one thought comes to mind, and it wasn't from the show. It came from the few days I spent after the show tooling around in a rental car - a diesel rental car - while moving at Autobahn speeds.

The smoothness of that machine (OK it was a BMW) as my wife and I traveled through Northern Germany, was tremendous. I never had any lag when I needed to accelerate, in fact the low-end diesel torque was welcome.

I paid a pretty penny to rent that car, and probably am not a target customer to buy a BMW, but I lament the fact that we don't have better diesel choices here in the U.S. All this "hybrid" car talk is fine, but that's a complicated vehicle with a big battery under the back seat. With diesel we have 100-year-old tech that we understand better than any new tech.

In fact, there has been talk of diesel-hybrid vehicles, which would get better fuel mileage and an improved emission profile in a hybrid package.

But without the grins and giggles of a hybrid design a diesel engine significantly boosts economy for even big vehicles. So while my farmer friends can enjoy the power of diesel in their tractors and combines, I'm still waiting for more diesel choices besides just what Volkswagen has to offer.

I just think I'm missing out on something, and that Germany trip proved.

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  1. Jerry Laskody says:

    I had a 1985 diesel( MItsubishi) Ford Escort that regularly got 45-50 mpg at freeway speeds. I wonder why we can't do that with todays emission technology and electronic engine controls?

  2. L. Nordstrom says:

    When I was in Germany we rented a Ford Escort? I am not sure of model but it was fun to drive and when we figured fuel economy to US numbers we were shocked. It drove like a sportscar but delivered upper 30's mpg when we drove it.

  3. M. Ludwig says:

    I would buy the diesel VW pickup we had when I was a kid in the early 80's in a heartbeat. I would love to see a little truck like that again; simple cheep transportation with the flex of a little truck. We used that thing for years to haul fire wood with a little trailer. Tough and useful, but cheep to run.

  4. Dale Hicks says:

    Willie is right. The US needs a good diesel car. VW was providing that, but their mileage is down from the Jetta's of a few years ago. I drove a diesel Fiat in Europe, small car with fantastic mileage. Resource conservation is important and the small cars with diesel engines would help with that. Detroit has missed the boat!