The question now is…will anyone listen to him?
As reported in today’s Detroit News, Audi of America’s Johan de Nysschen called out the current political leadership for “falling in love” with electric vehicles. He’s absolutely right, EVs and Hybrids have become the fashionable automotive technology and Washington’s choice for the future.
The only problem is that EVs won’t make a difference for two decades. The New York Times reported that “plug-in hybrids would not have a significant impact on the nation’s oil consumption or carbon emissions before 2030.” To be clear though, de Nysschen is not saying EVs and Hybrids are wrong or won’t play an important role in the future. What he’s saying is that Washington is picking winners and losers from a technology point of view rather than remaining agnostic, and he’s right.
Clean diesel remains the best near term technology available for reducing our dependance on foreign oil and CO2 emissions (the major cause of global warming), yet no one in Washington seems interested. It seems that “diesel” is literally a dirty word.
There is no doubt that Americans harbor a negative perception of diesel based on experience and inadequate information. If our government really wanted to serve the citizens, it would consider the facts of modern diesel technology and help dispel the myths. Modern diesel is as clean as gasoline, offers 25-30% better MPG and emits less CO2. While we’re waiting for the infrastructure to develop and the financials to make sense for EV technology, Americans could be driving diesels and making a difference in oil consumption and global warming.
Diesel in America is a marketing problem. We have to change Americans’ perception of diesel so that consumers can make the best choices. I don’t want our government picking the technologies that will succeed, but I would like it to have a balanced perspective and ensure that the facts are available so that Americans can make the decisions that make the most sense to them.
It seems to me that being open minded about diesel technology should be easy for our politicians….
If they’d like to take on something hard, then they should consider abolishing the CAFE standards and putting in place a Federal tax on gasoline which has always been the key to getting Americans to drive smaller more fuel efficient and cleaner vehicles.