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Diesel Cars Gaining Acceptance Among Shoppers

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author photo by Doug DeMuro
  • Acceptance of diesel cars improving with U.S. drivers
  • New study says one-third of shoppers will consider diesel
  • Most shoppers call fuel economy a major reason

Nearly one-third of shoppers say they'll consider a diesel car when it comes time to buy. That's the latest from a new study by the National Association for Convenience and Fuel Retailing, which surveyed 1,200 Americans who buy gasoline.

According to the study, a whopping 31 percent of respondents said they'd consider buying a diesel-powered car. That's a big number for the U.S. market, which has chosen gasoline cars in favor of diesel power for decades.

The study says the number-one reason such a high percentage of buyers would consider diesel fuel is better gas mileage. Nearly 60 percent of those saying they would consider a diesel car listed fuel economy as a reason. Other top reasons included that diesels are better for the environment, and the perception that they're more reliable than gas-powered cars.

A growing number of shoppers seem to be embracing diesel even though it offers a few downsides. Namely, diesel models are typically more expensive than their gas counterparts. And diesel fuel tends to be more expensive than regular gasoline by around 25 cents on average.

Still, shoppers looking for a diesel-powered car will find an increasing number available on today's market. Recent diesel additions include the Mercedes GLK250 BlueTEC and the Chevrolet Cruze. Other popular diesel models include several from Volkswagen, such as the Jetta and Passat. BMW also sells a popular diesel-powered version of its X5, dubbed the xDrive35d.

Some reasons shoppers cite for choosing a diesel car aren't necessarily accurate. For example, while older diesels were more reliable than gas models, many researchers find little measurable difference today. Also, while diesel vehicles use less fuel than gas models, they're often responsible for more emissions.

But as shoppers improve their outlook on diesel cars, it's likely more automakers will add diesel engines to their U.S. lineups.

What it means to you: As more shoppers embrace diesel, look for more diesel gas stations -- and more diesel vehicles to choose from.

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