With the introduction of the MINI One Diesel in Europe many people have asked why we in America won't be getting this vehicle. The easy answer is that the diesel in the US has sulfur content that is too high for this new breed of hi-tech diesel engines that the MINI One D has. But if you probe further into this question you'll find some interesting answers. This is an excerpt from an article in this week's Autoweek that is a glimpse into this issue.

U.S. clean-air standards that take effect this year will nullify the advantages everyone thinks the engines will bring to the U.S. market, Bob Lutz said in an interview at the Geneva auto show.

“We would like diesels,” Lutz said. “We think diesels are a major part of the solution for better fuel economy and cleaner emissions.

“But Europe has been very intelligent in setting (emissions) standards at a level where diesels are still feasible. In the U.S., we've done the opposite. Starting in '05, we enter a tier of standards so severe that even the cleanest of European diesels with the technology known today are not going to pass.”

…Reiterating a theme he and other GM executives have raised, Lutz said the best way to curb U.S. energy consumption would be to raise gasoline prices to European levels of about $4 per gallon over the next several years.

Although that obviously would wreck the market for large trucks – the industry's profit cow – Lutz said, “If we're really serious about fuel economy and cleaner emissions, the only way we're going to get there is to use the tax mechanism to curb demand.

“If you want people to eat less, you raise the price of food. Instead, what the government is trying to do with CAFE is fight national obesity by making the clothing industry manufacture only small sizes.”(Autoweek)

So this is yet more reasoning to keep the MINI One D away from these shores. I suppose this is America's loss – but if diesel's consumption advantages will be nullified than I at least understand some of the reasoning behind this move.