Bosch is leading the charge to increase American consumer knowledge of clean diesel technology. In Europe more than one-third of the cars on the road are diesel, and that number is expected to top 50 percent by the end of this decade. Stateside, diesel engines are associated with belching semi-trucks and school buses; overseas, they are associated with smooth, fast, quiet rides.
The numbers certainly support that notion. While far from the perfect fuel (which is what, remind me again?), today's diesel passenger vehicles increase fuel economy by 30 percent and decrease carbon dioxide emissions by 25 percent.
Bosch, the presenting sponsor for the Le Mans race at the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix over Labor Day weekend, used the event to educate the masses about their engines. They educated -- and titillated -- me by allowing me to drive a couple of laps around the Grand Prix race track with a couple of their clean diesel vehicles, a Chrysler 300 and a Smart ForTwo (pictured). The Smart clean diesel will be available in Canada, although there are no plans for the diesel version to cross the border into the US yet.
What is currently available in the US is a Mercedes-Benz E320 and a Jeep Grand Cherokee. The Honda Accord, a couple of BMW models and several Audis will be added to the domestic market in the next couple of years. (Volkswagen, of course, has gone all-diesel, but utilizes its own platform.)
Because the company's diesel engineering division is housed in Farmington Hills, an increase in demand for clean diesel could spell growth for Bosch's diesel systems division. "We will see growth in personnel, we expect growth," says Jonannes-Joerg Rueger, the division's vice president.
One criticism of clean diesel is with the particulate matter that it emits. Rueger says the company is developing a particulate filer that will reduce them by 95 to 99 percent. "It will be a standard component by 2010 in Europe," he says.
There is no crystal ball that can determine how well US consumers will adapt to clean diesel, but it seems that more and more people are talking about fuel economy and emissions, which only bodes well for Bosch.Source: Johannes-Joerg Rueger, BoschWriter: Kelli B. Kavanaugh
(who had an absolute blast driving around the race track, but never topped 45 mph)