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2008 LA Auto Show: BMW Diesel Pricing

335d and X5 xDrive35d Introduced in Strictest Emissions State
Since these BMW diesels are not exactly secrets, having already been discussed at the 2008 Detroit auto show back in January (click here), the big news for BMW diesels in LA is the pricing. The 335d sedan goes on sale in November 2008 for $44,725, including destination and handling. The X5 xDrive 35d for $52,025. Ouch, right?


There is a way to offset the cost, at least this year. These vehicles, like their Mercedes counterparts, qualify for the IRS Alternative Motor Vehicle Credit. Buying the 335d means a $900 credit, while the X5 gets a maximum $1550 credit. Not quite the same as taking that amount off the top of the vehicle price, but it could help ease the pain.

Diesel gets better fuel economy, but the ups and downs of fuel-cost cycles are different for gasoline than for diesel. A few weeks ago in California, personal experience showed diesel at $3.35 per gallon and regular unleaded at $3.25. In Detroit this past weekend, regular unleaded had fallen to about $1.96, while diesel remained nearly $3 per gallon.
Both fuel costs fluctuate, but diesel engines are more expensive to produce than gasoline engines (why is for another column in the future). While Mercedes and VW have sub-$2000 premiums for diesel over gasoline engines, these BMWs have a price differential nearer the $4000 mark. Diesel fuel economy is better, emissions are reasonable, resale is generally better, and the torque they provide well suited for most American driving cycles. On the other hand, the buy-in cost is notably higher and Americans have as much a bias against diesels as Europeans have for.


The enthusiast in our soul at AutoPacific appreciates clean, modern diesels for the great technology and terrific driving partners they are. But our research indicates Americans aren’t flocking in this direction. In AutoPacific’s most recent survey of new-car buyers, when asked what engines they might consider for the future, 9% said they would consider a diesel hybrid. But only 7% said they’d consider a diesel. Diesels have a part to play in the future of motive power and some brands (mostly European or engineering-centric like Honda) may earn a reputation for great diesel that sits along nicely with a reputation for excellent gasoline units. But these are not the powertrains of future America. They might as well be expensive and exploit the badge of honor for being off the beaten path.

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