Fans of diesels have long claimed lower long-term ownership costs as justification for diesel's up-front price premium of several thousand dollars over a gasoline-powered equivalent model. But rather than just anecdotal water-cooler chat, now there is a full-fledged study that confirms it. The University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute took a look at the total cost of ownership for several popular diesel models, including the Volkswagen Golf, Jetta, and Touareg TDI, the Mercedes-Benz M and GL classes, and the Ford F-250, Ram 2500, and Silverado and Sierra 2500.

In the majority of cases, the cost savings over 3- and 5-year ownership periods was decisively in favor of the diesel models. The only major exception was the Ford F-250, which suffered from a poor reputation for its former 6.0-liter and 6.4-liter Power Stroke V-8 engines. This negative reputation gave the gas-powered model a slight edge in TCO. The Ram 2500 also showed a negligible cost savings over its gas-powered equivalent. Most diesel models held a significant edge over their gas-powered equivalents in resale value as well.

The big winners on the value scale were the Mercedes-Benz GL diesel, which was projected to save owners a whopping $15,619 over 5 years or 75,000 miles, although the study's authors noted that the GL was unusual in that the diesel version was the lowest-priced model in the lineup, in contrast to the diesel models usually carrying a substantial price premium. Among trucks, the GMC Sierra 2500

showed the greatest projected cost savings with a $2613 savings over 5 years. Over a period of 3 years or 45,000 miles, the Volkswagen Touareg TDI had a projected cost savings of $7819.

The study's authors said the growing number of light-duty diesel vehicles shows the manufacturers' belief in the market potential for the vehicles, but warns that the variable price difference between gasoline and diesel could scare off potential buyers.

Click on the link below for the full study.

Source: University of Michigan, Diesel Technology Forum