When it became clear that the only way to effectively sell and market diesel engines in cars and crossovers was to cheat on emissions, manufacturers like Mercedes Benz, Volkswagen, and Audi abandoned the outdated and dirty technology for the U.S. market. Porsche also quit selling diesel models here, and now news comes news that Porsche may have quit on diesel all over the world.
Porsche was part of the Volkswagen family of brands that intentionally marketed vehicles that the designers built to pollute at up to 40 times the legal limit, and worse, to fake out the EPA and other tests that checked the emissions of vehicles. Billions in fines, dozens of executive “retirements,” and a handful of jail sentences later, automakers are finally figuring out that the purported benefits of diesel are negated by the downsides. Those include the fact that real-world vehicles with diesel engines don’t produce less CO2, are the dirtiest and most difficult vehicles to engineer to meet air pollution requirements, and compared to modern high compression gasoline engines, are slower and use no less petroleum.
Diesel's problem is that the textbook theory and real-world don’t align well. Before the dirty diesel cheaters were revealed, they were already being surpassed in terms of performance and efficiency by mainstream gasoline vehicles. When cost of ownership is factored in, the slower, louder, dirtier diesels just didn’t stack up anymore.
Green Car Reports’ John Voelcker lays out the details carefully and methodically about Porsche’s decision to quit on diesels in a recent story worthy of a read. Take note of the part in that report where the Porsche executive explains that almost nobody wanted diesels anymore and that “…buyer demand shifted to gasoline and plug-in hybrid versions.” The greenwashing of dirty diesel has failed and buyers of cars and crossovers know the benefits are baloney.
Truck buyers want diesel vehicles. To them, for the most part, the environment is not even a consideration. In fairness, there are some applications where diesel makes sense for towing huge loads. In the midsize pickup world, diesel vehicles are popular despite the fact that they cost as much as 10% more than gasoline vehicles that can tow just as much, just as efficiently.
General Motors has a new modern diesel car and it provides an excellent illustration of the demise of diesel due to better gasoline engines in direct competitors. The same is true of its crossover. Mazda has announced (about four times) that it plans to bring a diesel to market in the U.S., but never has. Its latest announcement is that Mazda now has a gasoline engine that produces just as much torque and has the same efficiency as diesel engines. Welcome to the club Mazda. Honda, Toyota, and others are happy you joined!
Diesel is done. Porsche’s quitting on the dirty fuel and the dirty vehicles that use it is just the latest nail in the coffin.