VW diesels raking it in – lesson?

Saab USA have indicated that they won’t be bringing a diesel model to the US market, despite the introduction of low-sulfur fuel regulations there later this year.

Volkswagen’s example might make that decision look a little silly in the next few years.

Autoblog reported yesterday that diesel’s accounted for 22% of Volkswagen’s US sales in the first four months of 2006. Now, some of those customers might have bought gasoline powered Volksies anyway, but I’m betting that a large portion of those customers owned a different brand and were quite fuel-price conscious when they made their decision.

As Autoblog says, expect VW and DCX to have a big marketing blitz later in the year to capitalise on their established presence in the market.

I can’t help but think that this has been a big-time missed opportunity for Saab USA, a very important market for Saab. Yes, the Biopower concept is progressive (which is important for the corporate image), but the numbers won’t lie and the number that will connect with most people is the MPG number.

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9 Comments

  1. Although I’m not yet a diesel fan, I have to agree. People in this country will buy diesel based on the mpg. All they have to do is test drive one to dispell any old notions in their heads about noise, smoke, and low power. And Saab saying that there’s a limited supply of diesel stations simply isn’t true. I had an 81 VW Rabbit diesel and I never had to hunt for diesel–it was everywhere. There’s a huge number of diesel pickups in this country and the stations have diesel pumps to satisfy them.
    Saab needs to take a few gambles, and I think diesel is less of a gamble than E85.

  2. I dont think there would be much of a market for luxury diesels until gas(diesel?) hits USD4.00-a-gallon. People take one look at the bhp of turbodiesels and go “OMG is that it?” much like they did when the 9-3 came with ‘only’ 175bhp in its base form hence its withdrawal from the market. The 150bhp TiD in the 9-3 has 236ft/lb of torque but I am not sure that would be enough to convince North Americans. Id have one!!

  3. My big problem with GM/Saab is the apparent total lack of any “plan D”. No tests. No spottings. Nothing. Buy a Duramax? Thats it?
    My obselete TiD 93 still kickints outta VWs. I just picked-up a 03 93 (gas) to see what Im missing. Its OK, got 25-33(seems 93octane gives better hwy)but will be sold shortly after I fix the broken cupholder. BTW in fifth, 2Tgas at 3K=86mph…22TiD at 100

  4. When those customers of VAG diesels, begin to have the common issues associated to those engines and the higher costs of maintanence, then they would see that isn’t as good as it seems, if you don’t make a lot of miles with it.

    as you know I am not very friend of the diesel engines, I am tired of the hipocresy if many customers, here in Spain that they think with its diesel turbo can beat any car, and they make less than 10000km per year, and with few miles and bad mantainance they have a lot of problems(air mass sensor issues, turbo, injectors, particle filter, oil consumption, injection pump)….the reliability of those engines are quite poor compared with petrol engines, because its complexity.

    greetings

  5. I still think that main reason for “no diesel” for USA that they dont have enough some parts.
    Also 9-5 with only 1.9 engine would be considered there as very weak show.

    Saab is simply waiting for next generation of cars(and engines).

  6. VW has stolen a march on everyone here in Oz, and the number of Golf TDi’s running about the place is staggering. The appeal is obvious – Prius rivalling economy with strong accelleration to boot. Given the rush of European manufacturers to diesel I think holding off on an oil burner might become an issue for Saab. Even BMW and Alfa – two companies with a lot of marketing investment in petrol have developed high quality compression engines and I think the driving gap between diesel and petrol will shrink even further and the public’s perception of them will improve. It’ll start to become a cornerstone of the “European brand” to offer a diesel. Saab will be forced to follow suit inside 2-4 years IMHO.

  7. Ed-see here in the “land of the free” we simply dont have a diesel option. And I would never recommend a diesel unless it was driven at least 50kmpd…or taxi, police or other hard-driven cars. The VW diesel-owners I know for the most part drive a lot, and have minor maintenance issues, no where near the horror stories you describe. For the record my Saab TiD has been getting its Mobil 1 changed every 5000m and Ive been keeping an eye on my EGR valve(it was starting to stick slightly at 55K but a thorough cleaning and it seems OK)but its been flawless. Not having to deal with an ignition system…priceless.
    Tuu do you mean we dont have diesel fuel everywhere? If a 95 w/diesel is 95% as fast as my 93…send an initial one thousand plz.

  8. Diesels have made up a lot of our sales for the 1st quarter but all of that is going to come to a screaching halt thanks to the EPA. There will be no diesel passenger vehicles in the U.S. from VW for MY07. Thanks to the inability of the US to make available ultra low sulphur diesel. And the EPA not giving VW the green light on certain technologies to make diesels more fuel efficient.

    Also a lot of people want the DSG transmission since it is more efficient but VW has restricted the amount we can order, (TT, GLI, GTI, TDI, A3, RS4, etc.) all share that same gearbox and supply has been low.

    So in short Saab isn’t missing out on anything and I don’t see people paying $35k for a saab diesel when you can get a diesel Jetta fully loaded with leather SATNAV for under 30k.

  9. There is nothing quite as sad or funny as a 50 year old driving a diesel VW.
    Sorry to hear about the new weeniebox supply probs. And yes Saab/GM and others are missing out by not having $25-35K diesel options…thanx for the misinformation. SATNAVs are stupid wastes of $$$…read a map, know where your going??

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