Clean and efficient, well-appointed and luxurious diesel cars are gaining popularity among motorists who go for power and performance
BY CHERYL TAY
Land Rover Discovery 4
CONVINCING motorists about the benefits of modern diesel engines and how they are different from the noisy, sooty old taxis of yesteryears is easy, going by the sales figures.
Wearnes Automotive, the local authorised distributor for Jaguar and Land Rover, rolled out the two brands’ diesel passenger car models in Singapore last July and sold 200 units in slightly more than a year.
Mr Lee Hoe Lone, general manager for Wearnes Automotive, says: “Diesel engines have long been popular with bigger cars from a large staple of luxury brands, such as Jaguar and Range Rover, although its popularity is spreading steadily to smaller cars.
“Both the diesel and petrol models are equally wellcrafted and luxuriously appointed and on top of that, the diesel models offer better performance and efficiency.
“Consumers of such cars recognise these facts and are therefore more willing to spend on them, while ultimately benefitting from the exceptional fuel efficiency and lower running costs in the long run.
“Modern diesel engines are not only clean and efficient; they also offer great performance with high torque. This translates to good pick-up and acceleration in Singapore’s stop-start traffic.”
Of the two Jaguar diesel passenger cars sold in Singapore, the Jaguar XJ 3.0 is more popular — which is not surprising given that it offers 600Nm of torque, a zero to 100km/h performance of 6.4 seconds and is able to give over 600 kilometres on one tank of fuel in Singapore’s city driving conditions.
Efficient performance, high torque, improved fuel economy and reduced carbon dioxide emissions are some of the key advantages of modern diesel engines.
Diesel fuel is denser than petrol and thus contains more energy per volume, providing better energy and space utilisation compared to a petroldriven vehicle with the same fuel storage capacity.
Diesel engines are also stronger in construction than petrol engines with the same output. Therefore it is easier and inexpensive to make modifications on diesel engines such as boosting power output without any detrimental impact on fuel economy.
Also, the diesel engines in Sport Utility Vehicles greatly improve fuel efficiency. For example, the Land Rover Discovery 4, a 4X4 SUV that seats seven adults, consumes just 10.75 kilometres per litre of fuel, despite weighing around two and a half tonnes.
This explains why the Audi Q7 3.0 TDI, an SUV turbodiesel option, is more popular than the other diesel option, the Audi A5 3.0 TDI coupe.
Mr Reinhold Carl, managing director of Audi Singapore, says: “From a technical perspective, there is no doubt that modern clean diesel cars like the ones Audi offer are extremely relevant for an urbanised country like Singapore.
“Our experience with our customers here suggests that there’s already plenty of awareness of what modern diesel engines are capable of.
“What’s holding many consumers back from jumping on the diesel bandwagon is, of course, the additional tax levied on such vehicles, as well as a general lack of options.
“So while the customers are conscious of their environment footprint, it makes better economic sense for most to look at the other alternatives than diesel, which often also enjoy tax incentives.”
Echoing this view, Mr Lee says: “There is more and more interest in diesel engines as Singaporeans become better informed. The take-up rate will definitely increase if the Government reduces the diesel surcharge. One of the main hurdles in Singapore is the diesel surcharge which puts a heavy levy on diesel-powered vehicles registered as private passenger vehicles.”
In Europe, where diesel vehicles have become increasingly popular over petrol engines, there is a carbon dioxide element in the vehicle tax base. Hence, dieselpowered cars with their significantly lower carbon dioxide emissions are taxed less than their petrol-powered counterparts.
The Singapore Government is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 16 per cent by 2020 and modern clean diesel technology could help achieve this target.
To encourage the take-up rate and soften the impact of the additional taxes of diesel cars, Audi has pegged the two diesel models in their standard offering to a similar price level as the petrol equivalents.
From time to time, Jaguar and Land Rover offer three years of free road tax to help subsidise the high road tax for diesel cars.
*This was first published in The Straits Times.