Since the early ’90s, diesel powered passenger cars started gaining popularity in the global market due to better fuel economy and better performance than gasoline burning counterparts. With advanced technology, turbocharged engines, and much more power than before, diesel cars have already conquered European market and even have significant market presence in America. However, in Singapore, sales of diesel vehicles were minimal due to very high road tax imposed by the government. Fortunately, in 2013 the laws have changed and Carbon Emission-Based Vehicle Scheme (CEVS) helped lower the price because modern diesel cars produce less CO2 than the petrol ones, making them more environmentally friendly. So, if you are thinking of buying a new diesel car, here are a few important things you should know:
1. Diesel cars have much better fuel economy
One of the main advantages of driving a diesel vehicle is a fuel economy. In average, diesel has around 30% better mileage and consumption than petrol powered vehicles in any driving conditions (urban and highway). Most modern diesel cars can travel over 1000 km on only one fuel tank. On the other hand, the price of diesel is far less than the price of petrol, so it is very economical to drive a diesel.
2. Modern diesel engines have a lot of power
Most modern diesel cars are turbocharged and this helps achieve good levels of power, nothing like old non-turbo diesels which were very slow and underpowered. The horsepower ratings are similar as equivalent petrol counterparts but the main advantage is torque. Due to the combustion process, higher compression engines and turbochargers, diesel cars have insane levels of torque compared to the size of the engine. You will be surprised by the initial punch of diesel engine which can pull strongly from low rpms. For everyday driving, the torque is much more important than horsepower and diesels deliver most of their power in low rpm range from 1500 to 4000 rpm. This means that a modern diesel even accelerates faster than similar gasoline powered cars because they don’t have to rev high to achieve wanted power level.
3. Good reliability, but not with Malaysian fuel
Due to their constructions, low rpm range, lack of spark plugs and some other parts, diesel engines are more reliable than gasoline units. That is, of course, if driven properly and fed with adequate fuel. Modern engines (Euro IV and Euro V) need a higher grade diesel fuel for best performance. This being said, you must avoid putting Malaysian diesel into modern engine since it is a low-grade fuel with an aggressive high-sulphur formula which will damage particulate filters and can cause various other expensive problems.
4. High road tax
Even if road tax is much lower than it was before 2013, it still is higher than that for gasoline powered cars. It is $0.20 per cc of engine capacity for modern diesel (Euro V) which was imported from January of 2013, and it is payable every 6 months. But, don’t let this scare you away, the savings in fuel can easily compensate for this cost, depending on how much you drive.
5. Good for the environment
Modern cars have gone a long way from dirty, noisy and slow diesel sedans you may remember. Due to high compression engines, fuel is burned much efficiently and thanks to particulate filters, the level of emissions is very low. If you care for environment, diesel is the best solution since hybrid and electric vehicles are much more expensive in the Singapore market.
6. Tough selling
The modern diesel is still a pretty new addition to Singapore’s car market. It would certainly take some time until local drivers understand and appreciate the advantages of having a diesel powered vehicle. However, until then, the average buyer can be drawn away from the diesel because of higher road tax and unfamiliarity with the technology.