VIENNA - Volkswagen's Golf TDI is the long-established diesel leader among the three lower-medium volume leaders.
Berthold Krueger, director of marketing for the VW brand, is confident that Volkswagen will keep its lead with its direct-injection offerings.
'We are in this race with three choices,' he said. 'The naturally aspirated SDI with 68hp, and two turbocharged TDIs with 90hp and 110hp. In Europe 30 percent of all Golfs sold are DIs.'
VW marketing experts expect the diesel share to grow. He said, 'I would not be surprised if nearly 50 percent of all passenger cars in Europe, excepting the very small ones, will be diesels within the next five years.'
Volkswagen is preparing new technology as well.
'Our TDI will get four independent pump injectors, one for each cylinder, that make it possible to get far higher compression rates than even common rail,' said VW's Krueger. 'So we will have the most economical and environmentally friendly solution in the market. Common rail will be used on the larger TDIs.'
Ford is very guarded about its new Focus. But the new diesel version will arrive in January 1999.
'It will have the widest spread range of engines that any compact car of Ford's has ever had,' said Jacques Nasser, president of Ford Automotive Operations. 'There will be 1.4-, 1.6-, 1.8- and 2.0-liter, four-valve gasoline engines and the all-new 1.8-liter, 100hp direct-injection diesel.'
Ford will use this most modern engine, for which its creators claim 40 percent more torque than the present turbodiesel, against the competing direct-injection diesels.
General Motors has developed a 2.0-liter, four-valve, direct-injection diesel with 84hp. Jeffrey Hurlbert, vice president for marketing and sales of GM Europe, says that the engine's advanced technology and high fuel economy will make it possible to stand up to the competitors.
Further growth of market share for direct-injection diesels 'will largely depend on the taxation and fleet fuel economy rules imposed by the different governments,' said Hurlbert. 'Market experts think that within the next 10 years 40 percent of the cars in Europe will be powered by diesels. The diesel definitely is on an upward trend.'
VW is preparing itself for increases in diesels even in countries like Switzerland, where up to now diesels could hardly be sold.
'Even in the USA there are tendencies toward the diesel,' said Krueger, 'especially with taxis.'