Report: Diesel cost of ownership lower than gasoline

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According to a University of Michigan study, diesel vehicles saved owners between $2,000 to $6,000 in total ownership costs during a three to five year period when compared to similar gasoline vehicles.

“Overall, the results of our analyses show that diesel vehicles provide owners with a TCO (total cost of ownership) that is less than that of the gas versions of the same vehicles,” the study cited. “The estimates of savings for three and five years of ownership vary from a low of $67 in three years to a high of $15,619 in five years, but most of the savings are in the $2,000 to $6,000 range, which also include the extra cost that is usually added to the diesel version of a vehicle.”

The findings that clean diesel vehicles are a more cost-effective investment for car owners reinforces what auto analysts and other comparative studies have determined in recent years, Allen Schaeffer, Executive Director of the Diesel Technology Forum, says. 

“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,” he adds. 

The study, titled “Total Cost of Ownership: A Gas Versus Diesel Comparison“, was conducted for Robert Bosch LLC.

 Highlights from the diesel-gasoline comparisons include:

• Fuel Efficiency: All of the diesel vehicles had better miles per gallon than the gasoline versions with the diesels having between 8 to 44 percent higher miles per gallon.

 • Fuel Costs: All of the diesel vehicles had lower fuel costs than all the gas versions of comparable vehicles, with 11 of the 12 vehicles showing double digit reductions in fuel costs, ranging from 10 to 29 percent. Similar to the three year comparisons, five year estimated fuel costs for diesel vehicles are less than those of comparable gas versions. The percentage difference in terms of the reduction from gas to diesel costs decreased for some diesel-gas comparisons as diesel prices began to increase around the 2005 timeframe.

• Depreciation: Eleven of the 12 diesel vehicles held their value better than comparable gas vehicles over the three year timeframe with eight vehicles showing double digit percentage savings ranging from 17 percent up to 46 percent. Nine of the 10 diesel vehicles hold their value better than comparable gas vehicles over the five year timeframe, with five vehicles showing double digit percentage savings ranging from 10 percent up to 39 percent.

“Fuel efficiency has always been a major attraction of clean diesel vehicles,” Schaeffer says, adding that the number of diesel buyers is expected to more than double in the next two years. . “Because diesels are 20 to 40 more fuel efficient than gas cars, drivers save money with diesels even when diesel fuel prices are slightly higher than gas prices.

The report analyzed the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for clean diesel vehicles and comparing their TCO to their gas vehicle counterparts. The study developed three and five year cost estimates of depreciation by modeling used vehicle auction data and fuel costs by modeling government data. The study also combined these estimates with three and five year estimates for repairs, fees and taxes, insurance, and maintenance from an outside data source.