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    VW Pushing Diesel

    Gasoline alternative might be more realistic than hydrogen cells.

    NEW YORK -- Volkswagen is beginning an aggressive campaign to persuade Americans to buy diesel cars, according to a report in the Reno (Nev.) Gazette-Journal.
    Currently, only about 10 percent of domestic drivers even consider a diesel, and far fewer buy. Half of VW's European vehicle sales are with diesel engines.

    Diesel engines have some advantages over gasoline-fueled ones, VW Chairman Bernd Pischetsrieder said. They can go farther on a given amount of fuel, and produce more torque, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal.

    Diesel fuel could help fill the demand for alternatives to gasoline until hydrogen fuel cells become viable as automobile fuel. One obstacle is producing the hydrogen on which fuel cells operate. The process is expensive, and VW?s Wilfried Bockelmann told AutoWeek that even as it gets cheaper, it may make more sense at first to use hydrogen to fuel power plants that make electricity, rather than cars, according to the news report.

    VW launches its diesel campaign with its Touareg SUV, which has a motor that makes 310 horsepower and a 553 foot pounds of torque. Soon after, the Passat sedan and wagon will show with optional diesels.

    The company hopes Americans will order diesels in 25 percent or so of its sport-utility vehicles. Pischetsrieder estimated a diesel owner would save 30 percent on fuel while enjoying 50 percent more torque than with gas. The cost penalty will be about $1,400, with payback coming in three to four years.

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