VW Diesels Doing Well Versus Hybrids

Vwtdi Automotive junkies know that modern diesel engines in fuel-efficient cars can be more fun to drive — while delivering high mileage — compared with modern hybrids. That’s why Volkswagen has relative hits on its hands with diesel versions of its Jetta sedan and wagon.

In July, VW sold 3,865 Jetta TDI sedans and 1,932 TDI wagons. Honda’s all-new Insight hybrid has been off to a slow start, posting another lukewarm month of sales for July: 2,295. Ford’s hybrid versions of the Fusion, Milan, Escape and Mariner totaled 5,353 sales in July.

However, the Toyota Prius set a sales record during a Cash for Clunkers-fueled July, with sales of 19,173. VW may have a ways to go to catch up to the Prius, but compared with other hybrids — and even other VW models, like the new Tiguan crossover (1,088 sold) and CC sedan (1,413) — diesel Jettas are doing very well.

The Jettas are the best example of what diesel engines can do in small, relatively affordable packages. Besides large trucks, most diesel offerings are found in German luxury cars and SUVs. The low price of diesel this summer also has to be taken into account, but perhaps all this will lead to other automakers bringing the technology to smaller cars.  

Comments 

Happymantis

I'm surprised no one has jumped on the diesels vs. hybrids flamewar, but I'm going to chip in and say that more diesels would move from dealer lots of diesel prices were lower, too often its cost is much higher than the mileage gains one associates from a diesel drivetrain, except in rare instances where diesel costs less than gas (remember two summers ago?) in which more people bought diesels for the mileage factor.

vinchenz61

I have been very active hunting down a Jetta TDi in NJ. Since Clunker program has engaged, discsounts are minimal if at at all. Some dealers will only put them out at sticker but with the $3500/$4500 available under clunker program it is still good value. The Honda Insights have gone to sticker. There was a $3k plus sticker advantage in going with Insight over the TDI and they were available. Insight while looking a little spacey, was actually quite a good drive. I had four adults in the car and it pulled up a steep hill nicely. They are also have a warranty on the batteries to 80K miles. Probably can't go wrong either way. Tdi was more fun to drive

Ken L.

While doing research for my new car, I looked at fuel mileage very seriously this time, but I also did not want to give up the versatility of a hatchback since my last vehicle was a SUV. I narrowed my choices down to the Jetta TDI wagon and the 2010 Prius. Having never driven both (dealers only had 1 showroom model, none for test driving), and simply purchasing on price, specs, and general automotive and consumer reviews, I chose the Prius for its higher mileage, reputation, bigger size, and sharper looks. Since I was never a fan of sedans, the Jetta TDI sedan was off my list, the wagon was more versatile, but just not as appealing to me. Since I don’t drive aggressively, the fun to drive factor was not as important. The 2010 Prius has a strong loyal customer base as well as new customers that were anticipating for this model. I think TDI Jetta Wagon would do better if it was wider and a little more distinguished. For example, I fine myself having to explain how my car works whenever I get new passengers; oh well, at least it’s a conversation starter.

H

^^^I'm a little shocked that you would buy a car without a test drive!

Nic

Ok totally off topic but in another post here a few weeks ago about one of the big wigs at Toyota saying Toyota cars are not making them any money here in the states yet most of their cars are best sellers. Am I missing something?

Nic

Prius sales almost 20k for one month. That is way more than all the other combined sales in this topic. Are we sure Toyota is not profitable here in the states?

Nic,
Toyota is having problems with car/SUV sales plummeting yes. You have to remember for every Camry there is a Tundra, for ever Corolla an FJ Cruiser, for every Prius a Land Cruiser.

That's why they just posted a Q2 loss of over $800 million. The good news for them is they do have a Camry, Prius and Corolla where a Chrysler for example does not.

Tony

News Quote:
"Japan quarterly sales totaled 407,000 vehicles, down 105,000 from the previous year, while Toyota said it sold 387,000 vehicles in North America, down 342,000."

So, 40+% down in North America. So, it can't be profitable because there is too much infrastructure that idling. Only 25% down in Japan - still a lot.
-------------------------------------------

"No. 1 automaker Toyota deliver a smaller-than-expected 77.82 billion yen ($819 million) quarterly loss and narrow its forecast of red ink for the full year."

Ken L.

@ H,

Believe me, you’d be surprised at what a reputation can do for a company. I was a bit surprised myself when I got home, but in the end, I knew it was all about timing. I closed the deal in June when cars sales where still struggling. Let’s just say I bought a new model that could be high in demand at almost 1k below MSRP, but I did have to wait 3 weeks, that was a bummer.

Nic

Ok thank you guys for more info. I guess almost every automaker is in the same boat right now with loosing money/sales.

Ken L.

@ Nic,

Not really. Some manufacturers are still spending on developing new vehicles and not cutting any programs, therefore losing money in a down economy. But when things get better, they’ll most likely to benefit while sitting back and watching others trying to play catch up with R&D, etc. That’s when they’ll enjoy their records profits again.

H

Reputation and reviews can never replace driving experience and how the car fits, feels, drives, behaves from your perspective. Just a comment, not criticism...glad it worked out for you.

Thinkerdude

If anyone has the opportunity to travel to Europe and drive a TDI... do it, you will want to buy one, you even believe you are in a gas car. And the mileage is great, most of that models get more than 40mpg.

09 VW TDI SPORTWAGEN

CORRECT 09 6SPD GETTING 45PMG, WITH LESS THAN 10K MILES. HAVE 04 GOLF GETTING 50MPG. BOTH GREAT VEHICLES. WHEN WILL PEOPLE LEARN THAT DIESEL IS THE ONLY WAY 2 GO. DIESEL TRUCKS MOVE OUR GOODS ALL AROUND AMERICA & HAVE FOR MANY YEARS. GAS VEHICLES CAN NOT GET THE JOB DONE. AUDI HAS WON THE 24 HOUR LE MANS RACE THE LAST 3 YEARS WITH A DIESEL, GETTING THE JOB DONE. VW IS BUILT TO RUN ALL DAY EVERY DAY @ 100MPH!!! CAN YOU gas car! See You on I-40 near Raleigh, NC.

Nic

Yeah I was looking at the UK website of Lexus and I would have considered the IS220D over the IS350 I got if it were available here. I didn't even know they made a diesel Lexus. But I guess Lexus does not think the market has a demand for it here.

Hybrit

CONSUMER REPORTS TESTED THE VW JETTA TDI AND ONLY AVERAGED 33 MPG - THAT'S 17 MPG LESS THAN THE MUCH LARGER 2010 PRIUS. CONSUMER REPORTS DOES NOT RECOMMEND THE DIESEL VWS. POPULAR MECHANICS HAS A LONG TERM JETTA TDI AND IS AVERAGING 32 MPG, BUT HAS SEEN AVERAGE MILEAGE AS LOW AS 26. THEY GOT ONE BAD TANK OF DIESEL FUEL AND THE CHECK ENGINE LIGHT WENT ON AND THE ENGINE WENT INTO LIMP HOME MODE. THE BAD FUEL CAUSED THE REPLACEMENT OF THE ENTIRE FUEL SYSTEM, INCLUDING THE FUEL TANK. READ ABOUT IT IN THE AUGUST POPULAR MECHANICS. DIESEL IS ONLY SUITED TO LARGE TRUCKS, BUSSES AND OTHER SLOW MACHINES. HYBRID CARS ARE FAR SUPERIOR AND BURN MUCH CLEANER.

Greg

Consumer Reports has a history of giving poor marks to VW diesels with regards to mpgs. I'm not sure why they are biased, but they have to be. With the previous edition Jetta TDI, for instance, they came out with some rediculous, low 20s number for city driving. As a real live owner/driver, I can tell you that a 2005-2006 Jetta TDI will not get under 32 in city driving after break in unless you're drag racing. Highway numbers will range between 44, if you drive 80, and 49 if you drive 65. There are many, many other reviews that will back up much better mpgs for both the new Jetta TDI and the previous edition. It seems that, after break-in, both models will average most drivers over 40 mpgs in mixed driving.

As for bad fuel, what's that got to do with the reliability of the car. VW doesn't make fuel. Fill up any car with really bad fuel and you'll have loads of problems.

Lastly, Hybrit compares the Consumer Reports figures for the Jetta TDI to the EPA numbers on the Prius. Just wondering if Consumer Reports actually got a real-world, 50 mpg out of the Prius, while they consistently get 14 mpg less in their TDI tests than what I get on average.

Motty

Consumer Reports did not make a recommendation for the 2009 Jetta TDI because it is a new car for the 2009 model year. CR does not make recommendations until the vehicle's history can be established. They got 33 mpg average and 47 mpg on the highway which they referred to as "stellar" mileage. The Jetta did better than Prius in the categories of crash protection and stability control. CR gave the VW an overall rating of 84 and the Prius an overall rating of 80.

Motty

Greg,

CR says they got 35 city and 47 highway form the Prius Touring model and 35 city and 50 highway from the base model. That's interesting because they list the EPA City/Hwy figures as 48/45 and 60/50 respectively. It seems in the CR tests the Prius was roughly equivalent to the Jetta TDI as far as mpg is concerned which is not what one would think based on the mileage figures on the sticker. I checked and the EPA did indeed claim that a Prius gets higher city that highway mileage. This seems to not be borne out by real world experience based on the CR test results.

Hybrit

Greg,
Good point about bad diesel fuel not being VW's fault. I guess that means when you get a tank of bad diesel fuel it will be you and not VW who will be responsible for $5,000 in repairs, right? That's my point - diesel is not suited to cars. The fuel is prone to going bad, absorbing water, gelling and growing slimy algae. And don't forget to put a bottle of additive in with every fill-up.
Motty, CR's figures show that a compact Jetta approaches the Prius mileage at highway speeds, but in town the Prius achieves more than twice the mileage of the much smaller Jetta. You mention crash protection as an important reason to buy the Jetta TDI. How about the safety of our children and grandchildren? Diesel cars spew out harmful particulate pollution that kills - a British study traced 9,000 deaths in a single year to diesel car emissions. In Europe, where they've used incentives to get people into diesel cars, they're now seeing the results of that decision. Let's not repeat the same mistake here. Pushing diesel cars in the U.S. is simply a way for European brands to get rid of their diesel cars at an inflated price - cars we don't need and for the most part don't want. The fewer diesel cars on U.S. highways, the better for all of us.

Motty

Hybrit is totally misinformed. Diesel cars have been around for decades. They have no more problems with fuel than cars that run on petrol. Diesel cars are MUCH more popular in Europe than they are in America. VW won't export their most popular Diesel models to America because they can't meet the demand in Europe (Diesel Tiguan, Diesel Toureg, Diesel Eos). Before you spew out nonsense, hybrit you should check your facts. BTW: CR already blew up your clams of ridiculously high mileage in the Prius. Nuf said.

H

Don't bother arguing with him. It's a waste of your time.

JM

hyrbit, you are a complete idiot.

and just for you, i have a present for you.

for every hybrid you buy, i am going to buy three diesel cars.

Hybrit

Motty,
It's Tourareg, not Toureg, and they did sell it in the US (lousy 15 mpg city mileage with the diesel V10). Do you want to start your comment over? If sales in Europe are so hot why are they trying to pawn off their stinking clattering 335ds and TDIs on the American Public? They'll all fail, as 94 percent of Americans rejected the idea of diesel cars in a recent poll. Meanwhile Toyota sold more Priuses in June than VW will sell TDIs all year.

Diesel cars have been around for decades and every one of them has been pulled off the US market because of poor sales or major problems. The following companies were supposed to be selling diesels in the US by this time and have come to their senses and cancelled them: Nissan, Subaru, Acura, Honda and GM. A year ago, people on this blog were talking about how the new diesel Hondas would outperform everything. They're not talking so loud now.

Wow the JM/H brain trust really came up with some fact based comments LOL.

Corey

I test drove the 2010, 2009 prius, 2010 Hybrid Milan/Fusion and must say the Ford Fusion/Milan Hybrid was a much better car. (MPG aside). The prius was just plain boring to drive. Sure lots of technology and gizmos but at the end of the day I want to have fun. However, I ended up buying a 2009 Jetta TDI sedan because it was cheaper, sportier and had much more room than all of the vehicles mentioned above. It offers about the same MPG of the fusion but does much better on the highway. However, last night I averaged 47 MPG (25 mile drive) in the city (suburban city) at night just by coasting down hills (Idles at 800 RPM). Normally my city averages about 33 MPG. On the highway I get at least 43 MPG (70 MPH). I also have a 6spd manual which adds to the fun factor. I haven't seen a hybrid car that fits the fun category. Another reason I went with the TDI is trunk space. I really like the Fusion Hybrid but you can't fold the seats down because thats where they keep the batteries. The prius's battery location lays down flat in the trunk but uses more vertical space. Did I mention I can lay inside my TDI trunk comfortably? Don't suppose you can do that with a prius. The jetta TDI just feels/handles like a luxury car. The suspension is just awesome. I probably buy another one down the road. Maybe a CC TDI.

GoingCoastal

Clean diesel engines with ultra low sulfur diesel fuel are very different from the diesels in Europe(sulfur-50ppm to the US 15ppm, that is 333% higher in Europe) and in the past in the US. Read up on other emissions like benzene and nitrogen oxide and which fuels produce more of these carcinogens.

Diesel engines are also known to easily run 300K miles and 500K isn't usually.

GoingCoastal

That should have been 500K mi isn't unusual.

Plus you can tow with the torque of a diesel.

GoingCoastal

US clean diesel with ultra low sulfur fuel is very different from European diesel. Europe allows 50ppm sulfur to the US standard of 15ppm. That is a difference of 333%.

Then you get into other carcinogenic gases produced such as benzene, etc and diesel has considerably less of those carcinogens than unleaded gas.

Diesel engines will also last 300K miles easily and 500K mi isn't unusual. Witness all the old Mercedes and VW diesels that are popular with the bio-diesel set.

You can tow with the torque of a diesel.

Lots of city stop and go then hybrids are likely the better choice. Long highway commutes then diesel is likely the better choice.

GoingCoastal

US clean diesel with ultra low sulfur fuel is very different from European diesel. Europe allows 50ppm sulfur to the US standard of 15ppm. That is a difference of 333%.

Then you get into other carcinogenic gases produced such as benzene, etc and clean diesel has considerably less of those carcinogens than unleaded gas.

Diesel engines will also last 300K miles easily and 500K mi isn't unusual. Witness all the old Mercedes and VW diesels that are popular with the bio-diesel set.

You can tow with the torque of a diesel.

Lots of city stop and go then hybrids are likely the better choice. Long highway commutes then diesel is likely the better choice.

GoingCoastal

As for going green applaud both hybrid and clean diesel owners because they are both better than staying with the status quo.

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