Diesel Truck Engines – Not the Future

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While there seems to be a large growth in diesel-powered heavy-duty work trucks some industry experts predict that diesel engines are not the future of U.S. automotive growth.

Diesel Truck Engines - Not the Future

Diesel Engines like this one may not be the future engine choice for U.S. consumers.

A recent article by Lindsay Chappell of Automotive News says that there are many issues that are keeping diesel engines from dominating the marketplace. Some of these factors include:

  • Higher diesel fuel prices
  • New fuel efficiencies from Powertrain engineers using gas engines
  • New exhaust timing software for gas engines
  • Improved direct injection, air management with gas engines

Many companies including Honda, Toyota and Mazda have small turbo-diesel trucks that sell around the globe, but they don’t seem to sure about their success in the United States.

“Their benefit is just not immediately obvious to U.S. consumers,” says Dave Coleman, product development engineer at Mazda North American Operations in Irvine, Calif. “It requires some arithmetic and a calculator. The pump price of diesel is higher than gasoline, higher even than premium gas. And the diesel engine costs more to build, so it’s more expensive to buy. So you have to calculate what your savings will be over years of driving.”

Hybrid owners are used to this argument since long-term ownership is the key to realizing true savings. While the long-term speculation on diesel engines isn’t rosy, a recent University of Michigan study showed that diesel engine fuel economy improved by close to 14 percent over the past four years.

While many speculate that diesel engines many not be the future, the answer isn’t so obvious. Engineers and manufacturers are currently working on a variety of different ideas/options to offer consumers looking for a fuel-efficient yet useful pickup. From hybrid engines to compressed natural gas powered and even the long sought after Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition engine it is anyone’s guess what the future holds.

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Filed Under: Auto News


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  1. Brian J says:

    I read all of the time on various forums of large 1/2 ton pick-up owners begging for diesel powertrains. Toyota has a winner with the 4.5L V-8 in Australia. Why not import a few here to gauge interest in the American market? If I could get 20mpg in town and 25-26 on the highway in a Tundra, then I would gladly pay the added cost of diesel fuel and DEF, plus the added engine cost. Hope you’re listening, Toyota! 🙂

    • Larry says:


      That is the engine I want in the Tundra with a 6 speed manual trans for my use.

      That setup is available all over the world but, it will never reach the US market for several reasons.

      Diesel has it’s place. Last year I floated through the Grand Canyon with friends. 5 of the people drove from Denver in a 4 door full size F350 with dual wheels, V10 gas motor, 4 speed auto trans and a huge trailer loaded with 2 rafts and food for 21 days. On this trip that truck got 7 MPG. This is just not the task for a gas motor. He got the truck used and at a very low price to transport his horses. While the gas milage kills him he doesn’t drive enough with the horses to step up to one of the diesels.

      I did the same trip back in 2009 and a person used his Ram 2500 with the Cummins 5.9L motor. With the same kind of load and 5 people in the truck the cummins motor got 12 MPG and it had no trouble pulling grades at 70 MPH when my T100 would be doing 30 with 1/4 the load. His truck gets about 20 MPG when empty.

      The commercial operators on the river roll in with huge flat beds with loads over 25000 pounds. A gas motor would never work for them.

      My 18 year old toyota with a 3.0L v6 gets 19 MPG empty. For this trip I had the 8 foot bed full and was towing a boat trailer which might have been 1500 pounds. My guess is the gross was just over 6000 pounds. I got 12 MPG with this load but, on the long grades I was down to 30 MPH at times. It’s a slow truck but it gets the job done and it’s cheap. It is amazing to me that Toyota builds a V6 that has been able to this for 18 years. If it had a turbo to boost the power it probably would have exploded by now.

      That F350 was a gross load of between 15000 – 20000 pounds. When fuel is 5.00 a gallon at some point in the future, he won’t be able to pay someone to take it off his hands.

      There are applications for gas and diesel in this world.

  2. Chris R says:

    Brian J is spot on … when you’re getting 9 – 11 mpg towing with an F-150, you sure wish you had a diesel. Unfortunately it seems like the U.S. is just getting more Prius-like vehicles.

  3. Art64 says:

    One word “Emissions.”

  4. Brian J says:

    If emissions are such an issue, then why are VW, Mercedes, Jeep, and Audi pushing light diesel in the U.S.? Yes, its more expensive, so it needs to be more fuel efficient. It CAN be done! It just take the American public to recognize the value in diesel and the auto industry to give it to us…at least in 1/2 ton trucks. I would love a diesel, but I have no need for a 400hp/800lb-ft of torque beast that gets the same MPG as my gas powered Tundra. I would be pleased with 270+hp and 400+ lb-ft of torque in a light diesel that turned out MPG like a V-6 sedan. Worth the cost of fuel and DEF everytime, and could pull 10K lbs. Just my 2 cents, but something that I feel would take off in today’s high gas price world.

  5. Jason (Admin) says:

    Brian J – Art64 is 100% correct – the problem is emissions, specifically arduous rules that make it really difficult to pass emissions without adding a bunch of expensive equipment.

    If the diesel Tundra was $5k more than gas, I think a lot of people would jump…but if it was $8k more (and that’s a possibility)? Hard to imagine.

    Frankly, at $5k the cost is high enough to push someone to an HD truck from Ford, GM, or Ram.

    For the record, I think a diesel Tundra sells even if it’s $6k more than a gas model, but I’m not in charge of anything over at Toyota.

    Besides, the recent announcement that Toyota and Ford are collaborating on a hybrid truck all but kills the prospects of a diesel Tundra…

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