Diesel diesel-ranger-FOR-YOU

Published on March 15th, 2011 | by Christopher DeMorro

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Ford Exec Says Diesels Don’t Make Sense for America

Believe it or not, Ford makes some pretty awesome cars outside of America, including some 60 mpg diesels. Don’t expect those to come to America though, as a Ford executive says diesels don’t make sense for America. Boo.

Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s VP of global product development, told a group of European auto journalists and Automotive News that Ford could “easily” bring diesel powertrains to America, before adding that he thinks American customers “are pragmatic.”

What does that mean? Well, after I tried (and failed) to get a Ford representative to sign my petition to bring the diesel-powered global Ranger to America, I was told it was because retooling an engine factory to build oil burners would run upwards of $400 million. That is quite an investment, which would mean that a diesel engine option would add a hefty price premium to the final cost of the car.

Add to that the higher-than-gas prices of diesel, and Kuzak says it would take around 10 years for diesel customers to see any return on their more-efficient engines. And I hate to say it (because I really, really, really want a small, efficient diesel pickup) but that argument makes a lot of sense.

Instead of premium diesel engines, Ford is focusing on fuel-efficient EcoBoost engines for American customers, which still carry a price premium, but less than diesel engines (on the F-150, the EcoBoost V6 only costs $1,500 more than the 5.0 liter V8 engine.) Ford thinks it can squeeze diesel efficiency out of gasoline engines, and that strategy could pay big dividends as Americans seem unlikely to embrace diesels any time soon. Not that I am complaining about Ford’s turbocharged future…I was just really hoping to experience European-like levels of diesel burning efficiency in an American car for once.

At least I can still hope for a diesel-powered Cruze or an oil-burning Jeep.

Source: Automotive News

Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs. You can read about his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout or follow his non-nonsensical ramblings on Twitter @harshcougar.


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About the Author

Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs. When he isn't wrenching or writing, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.



  • http://importantmedia.org/members/joborras/ Jo Borras

    Chris, I’m not sure who came up with four-hundred million to re-tool, but let’s pretend that’s accurate. Heck – let’s pretend it’s LOW! Let’s pump another hundred million into it, THEN add $150,000,000 in marketing costs and another $50,000,000 in getting the EPA certs. done. That’s $700 million.

    Here’s the thing: in automotive terms, that’s not a lot of money.

    Take that 700 million and divide it by just the 50,000 trucks sold last year (http://www.bizjournals.com/twincities/news/2010/12/01/ford-ranger-sales-up-in-november.html keep in mind, this is of a nearly 20-year old “lame duck” that Ford dealers don’t even try to market). Next, assume that the truck (with decent marketing, the cachet of being “the only diesel light pickup”, and the rising cost of gas) continues to sell at that level for 6 years (as compared to the 18 years the current Ranger has been sold for). 700,000,000 / 50,000 (units) = 14,000 / 6 (years) = $2333 cost per unit.

    Keep in mind, Ford wouldn’t have to put a gas engine in there (because there would be a diesel in there) so the cost per unit goes down again – by at least that pesky $333. We’re at $2000 now, based on some pretty conservative numbers.

    Let’s assume a fleet incentive exists – not a government fleet incentive, but a simpler, free market incentive: savings. Assume that the Ranger will do 90% of what an F150 will do, but return 20% better fuel economy, longer service intervals, and retain more resale at auction at the end of its service life. What does the fleet manager buy? A $20K F150, or a $20K Ranger diesel?

    Easy choice – especially at over $4/gal.

    The F150 is a profit center, plain and simple … and Ford doesn’t want to give it up. Heck, it’s probably cheaper to build than the new Ranger, to boot!

  • http://Web Robin

    Yeah, what Jo said…The response from Ford does not really make sense to me either.

    • http://www.carsfresh.net Tan Dung

      yes, i think so

  • http://Web Ed Cox

    I am not convinced of this reasoning.
    If over half the passenger cars sold in Europe are diesel powered, and if the new diesels are EPA qualified, why the heck wouldn’t the US consumers demand more diesels???

    • http://Web KenK

      They do, but you just can’t find them. You can burn bio-diesel today. Seems like Ford is still in bed with the oil companies…just saying seems like nothing changes with these guys.

      • http://Gas2 phil

        that’s why I don’t BUY FORD products!! They Love BIG OIL!!!!!!!!!!

        • http://importantmedia.org/members/joborras/ Jo Borras

          They love big soy, too.

  • http://www.dieselgreenfuels.com Jason Burroughs

    Chris – please never ever call a diesel vehicle an “oil burner” again. It may sound cute, but it’s not. It just sounds stupid and insulting to those of us who know and love diesel vehicles. Be a voice of change by not using a derogatory term, even if you are using it tongue in cheek.

    Thank you,

    Jason Burroughs
    DieselGreen Fuels

    • http://Web Tim Cleland

      Agreed. I’ve always hated that slang term for diesels. All it does is promote the image in peoples’ minds of “dirty, smelly, black-smoke” when they think of diesels.

      • http://engineeringworkarounds.blogspot.com/ Daniel

        There is one slang that is even more derrogatory: COAL-burner. It’s more insult than oil-burner…

  • http://Web Ty

    Follow the money.
    Derrick Kuzak is basing his ASSumptions upon false information. Jo Borras, you made a nice arguement, but your numbers are still based off of the same ASSumption that Derrick Kuzak used. And that is; to bring diesels here they would have to meet the California Air Resources Board (CARB) diesel emmissions requirements. And that would cost money , lots of if. But as the public found out,(not that the major networks even MENTIONED it) the CARB diesel particulate emmissions regulations were written based upon a lie.
    Hien Tran not only lied about his qualifications, but he inflated the results by more that 340%. If you look closer you will see that the study used explicitly stated that diesel only accounted for 10% of the particulate. A fact that Hien ignored. So even if California eliminated diesel alltogether, that would only reduce their stinky air by AT MOST 10%. Is that worth a trillion dollars? The chairmen of the CARB , Mary Nichols, KNEW this, BEFORE, the full board voted upon the rules but kept her mouth shut. That perpetuated the lie. Now….what??
    9200 people do NOT die each year in the state of California due to diesel particulate. That was a lie. So, should we ignore that and go ahead with expensive after treatments like DEF or AD BLUE just to meet regulations that were made up?

    Do you believe in the tooth fairy?

    Instead try this Derrick/Ford. Grow a pair, and bring the diesels sold elsewhere, here. The tier II bin IV/V ?? emissions are good enough. Just put a label upon them stating that they are NOT for sale in the state of California, and you are covered.

    Let us, the consumer, decide what we would like to buy. Not Mary Nichols.

    Oh, and the idea that diesel engines cost more to build is also a bit of slight of hand/phrase. Hint: IT’S NOT NEAR WHAT THEM ARE CHARGING, not by a fact of 10. But like they say; That is another story.

  • http://Web Dan

    The higher price of diesel doesn’t matter when you look at cost of fuel per 1,000 miles to drive. Even with a higher per-gallon cost, you’re going to pay a lot less to drive 1,000 miles due to the higher MPG. Car manufactures should be required to put the gallons per 1,000 miles on their EPA stickers. Then people could figure out exactly how much they can save buy driving a diesel.

    • http://Web KenK

      Agreed – I ran a small spreadsheet on fuel value per mile when I bought my 2009 clean burning diesel Jetta. At the time, diesel could got up to a buck a gallon more than gas before I broke even, until then I’m saving money. Since the engine will make it two to three times as far as a gasoline engine the cost of ownership is better the longer you own it.

      The logic doesn’t was. This is big oil working with Detroit to keep American on gasoline.

  • http://Web Alan

    Chris, I’m really dissapointed by your article. I had hoped that you would provide a direct link to say a 100 page Ford enginerring/managment report detailing why Ford holds that position. Referencing a few sentences from a Ford PR meet and greet session does not cut it.

    I suspect the real reason is that diesels would seriously cut into Eco-tec sales, making it harder for Ford to recover the millions or billions Ford has already invested on Eco-tec.

    I’m not exactly sure what Eco-tec is as it is mish mash of many patents. Certainly Ford has a lot invested in Eco-tec just as a branded marketing tool. I question the long term robustnes and low cost maintatinability of such high strung techiques, and even the bottom line payoff for the consumer. Turbos are nice, but even Consumer Reports is reluctant to recommend most turbo powered models.

    To be sure, modern clean deisels, e.g. the VW TDI, are also sophisticated hi-tech engineering, with turbos, but they seem more robust, and a more secure consumer investment.

    • http://www.sublimeburnout.com Christopher DeMorro

      @ Alan

      I assume you mean EcoBOOST engines. Ecotec is a GM line of small displacement engines.

      I don’t think it is any big secret that the Big Three don’t think many Americans will buy diesel powered cars. It is disappointing, but given the investment costs and the high price of diesel, there just might be a case for not bringing Euro diesels to America.

  • http://www.slickcar.com/accessories/Honda_Civic_euro_tail_lamps.asp civic taillights

    Great news and great thought. Thank yous sharing for us this post.

  • http://Web tony

    ok, don’t retool. why not import them from wherever they are being built. like lots of other imports. only thing I can think of is ford selling cars in us which are built outside of us… and toyota selling in us and built in us. how ironic is that?

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  • http://Web Ralph Nolletti

    Chris,
    What a load of crap! It’s not the American consumer that doesn’t want diesel power but American oil companies.
    Using myself as an example consider this. I commute about eighty miles a day to and from work in DC. My current vehicle a 96′ Passat TDI saves me between $1250 and $1750 a year depending on current fuel prices over my former Chevy Lumina. What if every commuter like myself were doing the same? This would have the potential to make a huge dent in oil company profits.
    Now add this to the fact that American farmers would now have an incentive to grow oil seed crops and oil profits would fall further.
    Ford and GM could import their diesels just like VW. Kuzak is just blowing smoke up our….

    • http://Web daniel

      i totally agree with Ralph here

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  • Jason Carpp

    I so disagree with Ford execs. Diesel makes perfect sense. It may not be for everyone, and with the cost of diesel being above that of gasoline, even less people will buy a diesel car. But so what? Someone wants one, or someone needs one. Why not cater to those who need it?

  • Jason Carpp

    If you have a small travel trailer to tow, but your tiny Ford Fiesta doesn’t have enough torque to tow even the smallest trailer, you need a truck to tow it, I would say that a small diesel engine would make perfect sense for North America. I’m hoping in my lifetime (I’m 39 yrs old), more cars and light trucks will be offered with diesel engines.

  • http://www.facebook.com/teddy.saye Teddy Joe Saye

    Thats because they want to screw the American people. F ford they are afraid it will kill sales because they last to long. How about our sorry congressman limiting this tech from America… This would help us free ourselves on foriegn oil.

    • Jason Carpp

      I totally agree. We need to tell Ford, we need to tell our congress critters that we want the option of a diesel powered truck! Why should they be allowed to make all the decisions for us? That doesn’t make sense.

  • Jason Carpp

    Says who? Who the hell are Ford execs to decide what engines we Americans can have for our cars and trucks? Diesel may not be for everyone, but so what? There has to be a demand somewhere in this country for small diesel trucks. C’mon, Ford! Listen to your customers for once.

  • ric

    But I found that diesel does pay off over gasoline based on improved mpg, even taking into account paying more at the pump. Aren’t there calculators out there that show how diesel yields higher return immediately and increasingly over time?

    • UncleB

      Back in the day, circa 1980, when I bought my 1980 VW Diesel Rabbit, diesels were a full 40 % more efficient than gasoline engines of the day. in Canada, we paid half the price for diesel, a clean additive free diesel, that required kerosine additions, at temps below – 30 degrees C, for easy starting, and a “Kleen Flo” additive to prevent ‘waxing’. Diesels would also run very well on no. 2 stove oil – even half that price, bur dyed purple to prevent its use in cars. Gasoline was 38 cents a gallon then, and Diesel, a mere 18 cents a gallon. My 1980 Rabbit Diesel consistently gave me over 58 miles per gallon, over 350,000. miles of driving, without a singe mechanical failure. my 1970 VW “Berliner 1200″ gas car gave me 40 Mpg over 300,000. miles, with one engine rebuild and two ball joints replaced. The diesel was cruised at a higher speed, and pounded hard in city driving, proved more economical and lasted much longer without repair.

  • Jason Carpp

    Who the hell are Ford execs to decide what makes sense and what doesn’t? That should be the customer’s decision to make, and not Ford.

    • UncleB

      In this international “corpocracy”, profit is king, ROI the new God, and the corporation plays ‘Bishop” to them. Big exec. bonuses, rapid sales, novelty products with limited lifespans, planned obsolescence, Chinese/Asian built parts, engines like the ‘new’ 1.5L fully assembled power trains from China that displace the U.S. 1.6L engines at a tenth the cost, these are the new ‘low hanging fruits” for the corporations and the job of ‘marketing’ to sell. A larger picture dictates a healthy corporation over all, if even the American branch suffers losses, but smaller than the Asian branch gains. The pliable American Market, and the malleable American buyer are of little consequence in this game. You ‘saps’ have been sold on the “pick up truck’ while wiser Asian/Europeans insist on a full third more cargo capacity in COE designs, Gasoline and diesel fuelled vehicles where CNG/Electric proves far superior in economy, longevity. Rubber tired Diesel freight where electric rail is at least 400% more efficient , Oil intensive Jet flights for passengers where electric rail proves, in Japan and Europe, even in China to be faster, cleaner, cheaper, and more convenient. You have been ‘sold” McMansions as wages to support such lofty homes were diminishing, gas hog, planned obsolescence designed SUV’s, as gasoline prices, diesel prices were adjusted ever upward. You have been enchanted by ‘life in the suburbs’ as the computer age makes it no longer necessary, you will fight wars even in Syria if the oil plutocrats see potential for profit, armaments dealers the same. Your infrastructure? your “Stake” in the American Deal? Compare on this internet, today, skylines of Asian cities, Seoul, Ho Chi Mhinn City, Beijing, et al., with that of Detroit City? Chicago? Count the “new” cities in Asia, China, since the Nixon Shock of 1977? See your schools, fallen from number one in the world, to 19th just below Estonia? American: You will do exactly as prescribed by the Great Corporate American Propaganda Whores moanings, persuasions, lies, scewings, misrepresentations, bull shit, proddings, suggestions, tell you, through her corporate controlled media, Hollywood, magazines videos, movies and even rumours from the streets. Ford execs answer to a greater God! the Corpocracy and the plutocratic cabals that control them. Remember:; Ford execs in China are so Chinese!

  • Jason Carpp

    I don’t believe this. I don’t believe the problem is consumers not willing to embrace diesel for America. I believe it’s Ford’s refusal to listen to customers wants and needs.

  • Teledan

    Why would they need to retool an engine factory? Don’t they already have factories in other countries that are producing these engines now? Americans have not embraced diesel because we haven’t had access to very many! I am sure if we had access to more diesel vehicles, they would be more widely embraced.

  • Jason Carpp

    Why would they need to look to another country? Can’t they build here in the USA? Or even Canada?

  • GregS

    I would love to buy a Ford F150 diesel, but after looking at the F150 EcoBoost and being underwhelmed by the MPG figures people are reporting in real life, it looks like I might have to check out that Dodge Ram EcoDiesel

    • Jason Carpp

      I know what you mean. I’ve driven a Ford F150 and while I liked the performance, its fuel economy is less than impressive.

  • UncleB

    CNG/Electrics make more sense than expensive liquid fuel options in the ‘New American Economy’? This but a transitional time, ending in all electric and intensive nuclear electricity for electric bullet trains, both freight and passenger, to allow for more Oil for Military purposes? All: Solar, Wind, Wave, Hydro, Tidal, Geothermal, Biological, Nuclear domestic energy sources must be fully utilized to allow Oil to be conscripted to Military use only. Cold War polarizations increasing as we speak!

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