Honda Wavers on Diesel Plans

The US diesel movement may steadily be marching forward, but Honda Motor Company has reported that it may delay its near-term plans to introduce clean-diesel vehicles into its US carline. The manufacturer had originally intended to launch two diesel-powered models in 2009. “Right now we are re-evaluating, due to trends in gasoline and diesel prices, and the price of raw materials we use in the exhaust cleanup system,” Honda spokesman David Iida told USA Today.

The price of diesel fuel at the pumps ranges anywhere from 40 to 55 percent over the cost of gasoline. The nation’s average cost for a gallon of gas is currently $1.74 versus $2.64 for diesel. Furthermore, the price of a diesel vehicle is approximately $1500 more than its gas-powered counterpart. Both of these stats outweigh the fact that diesel grants 20 to 40 percent better mileage than gasoline. “Any advantage of fuel economy has been wiped out,” said Dino Brandt, an energy analyst with Hess Global, in an interview with hybridcars.com. “But as the economy heads south, we expect the price of diesel to follow…and a more level playing field.”

The primary reason for the discrepancy in price between diesel and gasoline is demand. Globally, the demand for diesel is significantly higher, which drives up its price. The chasm between diesel and gas prices has never been as large as it is today.

Honda’s diesel vehicles intended for 2009 include a mid-size SUV and an uplevel four-cylinder sedan from the Acura banner. The company has not offered any further details on either model.

Despite Honda’s position, the diesel resurgence in the US has been enjoying plenty of publicity from Mercedes Benz’s Bluetec technology, BMW’s upcoming 335d sedan, and the Volkwagen Jetta TDI’s recent naming as Green Car Journal’s Green Car of the Year. Other manufacturers, including Nissan and Audi, also plan to launch diesel vehicles in 2009.