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Diesel car owners save thousands in just three years

The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee, at the 2013

The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee, at the 2013 New York International Auto Show, will feature a diesel engine that yields 30 highway miles to the gallon. (March 27, 2013) Photo Credit: Nancy Borowick

Owners of diesel-powered cars save about $2,000 to $6,000 over three to five years compared to owners of corresponding gas models, according to a University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute study released yesterday. While diesel-engined cars typically cost more to purchase, they save money over time through a combination of superior fuel economy and slower rate of depreciation.

The study examined a dozen vehicle nameplates that are offered with both diesel and gas ignitions. The diesel vehicles achieved between 8 and 44 percent more miles to the gallon, with all but three diesel models exceeding their gas brethren by at least 26 percent. As a result, all diesel models came with less fuel costs over three years (45,000 miles of driving), and 11 of them came with savings of at least 10 percent.

Meanwhile, for 11 of the 12 models, the diesel version depreciated more slowly than the gas version. The Mercedes-Benz GL Class posted the biggest difference, as its diesel vehicle held on to 46 percent more of its value than the gas alternative. On the other hand, Ford F-250 gas models actually held on to 22 percent more of their value than their diesel counterparts.

“The significant savings diesel owners experience compared to gas car owners highlights another major reason why clean diesel vehicles sales will increase significantly throughout the U.S. in the coming years," Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum, said in a statement. In a separate study released in April, his group found that diesel car registrations increased 24 percent since 2010 compared to a 2.7 increase over that time period.

In addition to those two vehicles, the study examined the Volkswagen Jetta, the Jetta Sportwagen, the Volkswagen Golf, the Volkswagen Touareg, the Chevrolet Silverado 2500, the GM Sierra 2500, the Dodge Ram 2500, the Ford F-250, and the Mercedes-Benz E, GL, ML and R classes.

Factoring in fuel costs, depreciation, repairs, fees and taxes, insurance and maintenance the F-250 was the only model whose gas version saved money ($1,395) over the diesel version during the initial three years of ownership. The diesel Ram saved $67 and the other 10 diesel models saved between $2,720 (Sierra) and $13,514 (GL Class) over their gas counterparts.


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