It’s now impossible to talk about diesel engines without mentioning Volkswagen. The company accidentally—but fundamentally—changed the landscape of diesels and the attitude of American buyers toward the oil burners.
Not only that, other automakers are now second-guessing their diesel programs and vowing to pursue electricity instead.
In fact, Volvo says that the next generation of diesels will be its last. Audi and Mercedes have pulled diesel options from the United States. Cadillac, meanwhile, has plans to buck that trend and introduce diesel engines to the U.S. market in hopes of capturing whatever enthusiasm remains for the alternative fuel.
Despite Cadillac’s optimism, diesels have one purpose, and Volkswagen has made it exceptionally clear that the future of clean driving isn’t it.
Diesel engines in the U.S., before September 2015, were gaining popularity as clean and efficient alternatives to gas engines. That all came crashing down when it was discovered that clean diesel, or at least Volkswagen’s version of it, was all a lie. The image of Grandpa’s old diesel sedan, spewing black smoke and smelling like a burning oil field, was still accurate even if it was covered up in shiny sheetmetal and a green advertising campaign.
Diesel engines will, however, always be good for towing heavy loads. Not to say electricity will never overcome diesel’s exceptional torque and longevity, but for now the oil burners are far superior.
Tesla is already heading down the path of replacing diesel, though, with an electric semi concept. While the concept could be just months away from its debut, we’re still many years, decades even, from electricity displacing diesel in the heavy duty pickup market.
If you need a vehicle to tow a heavy load (we’re talking 8,000 pounds or more), a diesel-powered pickup or large SUV is the best option available.
Even better, used diesel trucks are an affordable option for heavy haulers. Need to take a 29-foot Sea Ray to the boat launch? Get a diesel. Need to hook up a fifth wheel camping trailer? Get a diesel. Need to haul a couple of kids to the lacrosse fields before heading to Costco? Stick with gas or—if you’re adventurous—go electric.
What do you use for your towing needs?