2011 Year in Review: Diesel in America

By Paul Riegler on 26 December 2011
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2011 was a good year for diesel fans.  Sales of diesel-powered automobiles in the U.S. were up 39% in the first half of the year, and it looks like that figure will increase when all of 2011 is tallied.

Two entirely new diesels were introduced in 2011, namely the Mercedes-Benz S350 BlueTec and the Volkswagen Passat TDI .  Both cars are four-door sedans with excellent fuel economy and plenty of passenger room.

In addition, Mercedes-Benz introduced a completely redesigned ML350 BlueTec over the summer.

Earlier this year, readers of The Diesel Driver chose the BMW 335d as the 2011 Diesel Car of the Year .  The 3er received 29.6% of the vote, and 3,669 readers from 43 countries took part in the balloting.  In second place was the Volkswagen Golf TDI with 16.1 pBMW 335d BMW Weltercent of the vote. The Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen, with 16 percent of the vote, came in third.

In August, TDD editors Jonathan Spira and Christian Stampfer traveled to the Mercedes-Benz factory in Sindelfingen to take delivery of The Diesel Driver’s new E350 BlueTec sedan .  Since then, the E-Klasse has visited four countries (Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and the U.S.) and 10 states plus the District of Columbia in the U.S.  Its maiden drive was from Sindelfingen to Maastricht, and its first trip in the U.S. was from New York to Kennebunkport.

In a poll we conducted earlier this year, 749 readers told us why they purchased a diesel. The most often cited reason was fuel economy followed by power and torque.  Reliability was third, followed by reduced emissions and a higher residual value.

From the Tokyo Motor Show, Jonathan Spira reported that BMW and Mercedes-Benz are starting to offer diesels in Japan, traditionally the land of the gasoline-electric hybrid.  Christian Stampfer reported from Frankfurt on the newest diesels and alternative-fuel vehicles being introduced by BMW and by Mercedes-Benz and Jonathan Spira discovered that Jaguar Land Rover will offer a diesel in the U.S. although exactly which vehicle and when remain uncertain.

Finally, balloting for the 2012 Diesel Car of the Year started last month and you can still place your vote or tell your friends to vote for their favorite diesel.  This year’s nominees include seven passenger cars; the Audi A3 TDI, the Mercedes-Benz E350 BlueTec, the Mercedes-Benz S350 BlueTec, the Volkswagen Golf TDI, the Volkswagen Jetta Sedan TDI, the Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen TDI, and the Volkswagen Passat TDI, as well as six SUVs, the Audi Q7 TDI, the BMW X5 xDrive35d, the Mercedes-Benz ML350 BlueTec, the Mercedes-Benz R350 BlueTec, the Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTec, and the Volkswagen Touareg TDI.

Voting ends at midnight on March 1, 2012. The 2012 Diesel Car of the Year, as well as the two runners up, will be announced at the New York International Auto Show in April 2012.