Diesel Vehicles Have Lower Cost of Ownership Than Their Gasoline Counterparts

A study has shown that diesel vehicles experience better fuel efficiency, lower fuel costs and less depreciation of value than gasoline-powered vehicles.

| July 16, 2013

  • Because diesels are 20 to 40 percent more fuel efficient than gas cars, drivers save money with diesels even when diesel fuel prices are slightly higher than gas prices.
    Photo by Fotolia/coward_lion

Diesel vehicles saved owners between $2,000 to $6,000 in total ownership costs during a three-to-five-year period when compared to similar gasoline vehicles, according to data compiled by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

The University of Michigan study — Total Cost of Ownership: A Gas Versus Diesel Comparison — was conducted for Robert Bosch LLC and the results were released at the 2013 Alternative Clean Transportation Expo in Washington, D.C.

“Overall, the results of our analyses show that diesel vehicles provide owners with a TCO (total cost of ownership) that is less than that of the gas versions of the same vehicles,” according to the study. “The estimates of savings for three and five years of ownership vary from a low of $67 in three years to a high of $15,619 in five years, but most of the savings are in the $2,000 to $6,000 range, which also include the extra cost that is usually added to the diesel version of a vehicle.”

New Study Reinforces Benefits of Clean Diesel Vehicles

“These new findings — that clean diesel vehicles are a more cost-effective investment for car owners — reinforce what auto analysts and other comparative studies have determined in recent years,” said Allen Schaeffer, Executive Director of the Diesel Technology Forum. “The significant savings diesel owners experience compared to gas-car owners highlights another major reason why clean diesel vehicles sales will increase significantly throughout the U.S. in the coming years.

“Fuel efficiency has always been a major attraction of clean diesel vehicles. Because diesels are 20 to 40 more fuel efficient than gas cars, drivers save money with diesels even when diesel fuel prices are slightly higher than gas prices.

“The findings in this study will also be helpful to car buyers as they research their next vehicle purchase. This is an exciting time for diesel vehicles as the number of diesels is expected to more than double in the next two years. This will give drivers a broad selection of vehicles to fit their individual driving needs.

“In addition, as the U.S. moves to the increase fuel standards of 54.5 mpg by 2025, drivers will become more aware of the advantages diesels have over other vehicles in many important areas.”

Clean Diesels Have Better Fuel Efficiency and Lower Depreciation

Highlights from the diesel-gasoline comparisons include:

Total cost of ownership: In the three-year time frame comparison, diesel vehicles in the mass-market passenger car segment are estimated to save owners significant money, with the VW Jetta owner saving $3,128, the VW Jetta Sportwagen owner saving $3,389, and the VW Golf owner saving an estimated $5,013.

In the luxury segment, all the diesel versions of the Mercedes-Benz E Class ($4,175), Mercedes-Benz GL Class ($13,514), Mercedes-Benz M Class ($3,063), Mercedes-Benz R Class ($5,951) and VW Touareg ($7,819) save owners money in the three-year time frame.

Fuel efficiency: All of the diesel vehicles had better miles per gallon than the gasoline versions, with the diesels experiencing between 8 and 44 percent higher miles per gallon.

Fuel costs: All of the diesel vehicles had lower fuel costs than the gas versions of comparable vehicles, with 11 of the 12 vehicles showing double-digit reductions in fuel costs, ranging from 10 to 29 percent.

Similar to the three-year comparisons, five-year estimated fuel costs for diesel vehicles are less than those of comparable gas versions. The percentage difference in terms of the reduction from gas to diesel costs decreased for some diesel-gas comparisons as diesel prices began to increase around the 2005 time frame.

Depreciation: Eleven of the 12 diesel vehicles held their value better than comparable gas vehicles over the three-year time frame, with eight vehicles showing double-digit percentage savings ranging from 17 percent to 46 percent.

Nine of the 10 diesel vehicles hold their value better than comparable gas vehicles over the five-year time frame, with five vehicles showing double-digit percentage savings ranging from 10 percent up to 39 percent.

7/28/2013 11:45:30 AM

Diesels average higher fuel economy than the fleet average, but mileage for gasoline driven engines continues to rise, and will soon equal or exceed diesels. The 2007 Kia Spectra I drive got 50 MPG right off the lot, and slowly settled into it's EPA rated mileage of 32 MPG over a 2.5 year span. The same car with a diesel engine would top out at 45-50 MPG, and settle at no greater than 40 after break in. The actual difference would therefore be no greater than 17%, and considering that the diesel engine, if it had even been available, would have added $1500-2000 to the purchase price any savings would have been negated before I drove off of the lot. The petroleum companies produce gasoline at a greater volume than diesel for the simple reason that it generates the most profit. In Europe, where diesels are more common, they realize mileages of up to 60 MPG, but do so at the expense of power. While there is no acceptable reason to go from zero to sixty in under ten seconds, it's equally true that an underpowered car is not only more polluting, but also has a shorter operating lifespan. Sure, you save at the pump, but pay for it over the life of the car, resulting in zero net savings, and a dirtier environment because of overworked engines. We'd be better off simply encouraging the scientific community to find more efficient combustion designs for the gas burning cars that we already have. It's estimated that the average car burns only 25% of the fuel that it consumes, surely we can do better than that.



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