No Home in the U.S. for 65-MPG Ford

Known for 14 mile-per-gallon trucks and hulking four-ton SUVs, Ford turned its back on that gas-guzzling image to create a sporty, five-seat "small car" that maintains 65 miles-per-gallon on the highway. Sounds like the ideal car for the times, right? But it won't be sold in the U.S.

The Ford Fiesta ECOnetic Diesel reduces fuel consumption through weight reduction, low rolling resistance tires, and improved aerodynamics. According to one site, "The engine is a 1.6-liter Duratorq TDCi (diesel) that has been tweaked for efficiency. Fuel economy for the ECOnetic Fiesta is 3.7 L/100km (63.6 mpg US) combined, or 3.2 L/100km (73.5 mpg US) on the highway! It's not exactly a race car, with 0 to 60 mph in 12 seconds, but those who will buy it won't care."

"Those who buy it" won't be American citizens, either. The car is limited to the European market. Instead, Ford is creating a gasoline-based version for the U.S. BusinessWeek cites American dislike for diesel as the deciding factor. Although new pollution technology means cleaner diesel vehicles, with diesel at least 30 percent more fuel efficient than gasoline, Americans tend to avoid diesel. "Taxes aimed at commercial trucks mean diesel costs anywhere from 40 cents to $1 more per gallon than gasoline. Add to this the success of the Toyota Prius, and you can see why only 3 percent of cars in the U.S. use diesel," the article in BusinessWeek shares. TreeHugger combats this reason, lashing back at BusinessWeek with the fact that Energy Tomorrow says the tax-associated price differential for diesel is closer to six cents per gallon.

The most practical reason for avoiding the U.S. market? Too much spend. "Building a plant would cost at least $350 million at a time when Ford has been burning through more than $1 billion a month in cash reserves," BusinessWeek says. "Besides, the automaker would have to produce at least 350,000 engines a year to make such a venture profitable."

Ford doesn't think they could sell that many cars, but both TreeHugger and BusinessWeek agree that Ford could be making a huge mistake. If diesel takes off, Ford will fall behind companies like Nissan, Mercedes Benz and Honda, who each plan to introduce new diesel cars within the next few years.

-Amy Edwards

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