Cleaning Up Diesel's Image [Wall Street Journal]
Summary: High oil prices have resulted in consumers embracing more fuel-efficient vehicles, especially in the U.S., where larger autos such as SUVs had dominated the industry. While Toyota and Honda have taken the lead in hybrids, European manufacturers are focusing on diesel-powered engines. Volkswagen and DaimlerChrysler are busy marketing new diesel engines that are clean enough to use in California, which has the nation's strictest air quality standards -- having more torque than gas-powered rivals. The biggest challenge for diesel will be shedding its negative image extending from the 80s of black smoke pouring out of exhaust pipes. Another issue is a need to remember to replenish a certain additive that reduces greenhouse gas emissions, although it would be somewhat infrequent at every 10,000 miles or so. Separately, General Motors recently granted some members of the press access to one of its research centers where it is developing fuel-cell technology. GM hopes to beat Toyota, Honda and others to market, and likewise hopes to improve upon its image, emphasizing technology and fuel efficiency. Also, Nissan announced two Altima hybrid offerings that will hit the market early next year. Nissan is a late-comer but says it plans to establish a position in the market and expand hybrid technology to other models.
Related links: Media coverage: NY Times/AP and WSJ. Commentary: Toyota: Lithium Battery Hybrid In The Works • My Breakfast With Honda • Altairnano Reveals Battery Pack Details • Japan's Big-3 Auto to Further Expand Fuel Efficiency.
Potentially impacted stocks and ETFs: DaimlerChrysler (DCX), Volkswagen (OTCQX:VLKAY), Ford (NYSE:F), General Motors (NYSE:GM), Honda (NYSE:HMC), Nissan (OTCPK:NSANY), Toyota (NYSE:TM)
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