Diesel fuel has been getting a lot of attention lately.
Bloggers all over the ‘net are claiming it’s the answer to slowing our oil consumption and raving about the high mileage diesel cars get. After all, Europe has been driving diesel cars for years yet American has been slow to get on the band wagon.
Cargurus.com even did a recent poll on this topic, with a majority of people who plan on buying an alternative fuel car saying they’ll buy diesel over hybrid.
While it’s true that diesels get 20 to 30 percent better fuel economy, diesel fuel is about 50 cents per gallon more than gas. On top of the higher fuel costs, diesel autos cost more upfront to buy.
I’m going to do the math right here and now, to see if going diesel on your next new auto purchase is financially worth it over a traditional gas-powered car.
The cargurus.com survey cited the 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI (diesel) as it’s example, so I’ll compare it to a similarly equipped 2009 Jetta SE (gas).
The SE costs $19,920. The TDI is $21,990 for a difference of $2,070.
Currently, gas costs an average of $3.48 per gallon. Diesel currently averages $4.00 per gallon.
The SE gets an estimated 20 MPG in the city. The TDI gets 29 MPG.
Assuming you drive an average of 15,000 miles per year in the city, you’ll use 750 gallons of gas in the SE for a total of $2,610 in fuel costs.
In the TDI, you’ll use 517 gallons of diesel, for a total of $2,068 in annual fuel costs.
With the TDI, you’re saving $542 per year in fuel costs. At current prices, it will take driving your TDI for almost 4 years to break even.
So the bottom line is simple: If you’re buying a diesel over a gas-powered car to keep for the long run, diesel is a good option.
I’m interested in what you think: Is diesel worth the higher MPG? I only looked at the financials; what are some other reasons to go diesel?