The U.S. government considers biodiesel an alternative fuel, and just about any car with a diesel engine accepts at least some blend of biodiesel/pure petroleum diesel. Unfortunately, consumers looking for a diesel car for everyday use may have a hard time finding one. However, diesel vehicles are becoming more popular and should make up 9 per cent of all U.S. auto sales by 2016, according to the National Diesel Board.
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According to the U.S. Department of Energy's Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center, most light vehicles, such as sedans and sports cars, do not have diesel engines and therefore cannot use biodiesel. However, some manufacturers, such as Audi and BMW, have a few light vehicle diesel cars on the market.
Even the manufacturers that make diesel cars have a small selection. Some of the newest and highest-rated diesel light vehicles include the 2009 Audi Q7 TDI and 2009 BMW 335d. However, most of the light vehicles which use diesel are approved only to use a blend of no more than 5 per cent biodiesel and 95 per cent regular diesel. The Diesel Technology Forum contains a full list of available diesel vehicles.
Because modern diesel technology has reduced the emissions of diesel and increased its efficiency, the number of light vehicle diesel cars should double, according to J.D. Power Automotive Forecasting. In 2009, 15 new diesel cars entered the market, with 15 in production for 2010.
Medium and Heavy Vehicles
Diesel engines are much more common in medium (8,500 to 26,000 pounds) and heavy vehicles (11793 Kilogram or more) than in light cars. Usually, only diesel can provide the power needed for these classes of auto, which are often employed by transporters. Trucks and large sport utility vehicles are medium and heavy vehicles and the most likely car available to the consumer that can use biodiesel. Heavy vehicles almost always use diesel and are the type of car that can benefit most from using biodiesel because of their massive fuel requirements.
Although not widely available to private consumers as of 2010, hybrid diesel cars, which use biodiesel and electrical power, should start hitting the market sometime after 2010. Hybrids that plan to deploy in the United States include the Indian-made, scaled-down truck Mahindra, the Mercedes ML320 and the Mini Cooper D, according to the National Biodiesel Board.
Smart Cars--which are extremely small two-seat cars--that use diesel fuel became available in Canada around 2006. Smart Car may bring the CDI to the United States sometime in 2010 or later, but the company had no definite plans as of March 2009.
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