By now you’ve probably heard, Audi went to LeMans and placed first and third with their diesel racers. Adding to their win at Sebring, they’ve done quite a job. Next year, Peugeot will be coming to LeMans with a diesel of their own. This is how you break down perceptions of diesels being noisy, smelly and slow, by coming out with a racer powered by a diesel that is quiet, clean and fast. All of the theoretical discussions of advances in diesel technology couldn’t make a fraction of the impact of what Audi has done. Congratulations to Audi.
With diesel fuel going low sulfur this year in the U.S., we can expect to see more diesel engines showing up. Regardless of the growth in biodiesel, it’s the engine that had to change to convince lots of people that they weren’t only for trucks and tractors. Biodiesel easily wins over the green crowd but the average car buyers wants clean, reliable engines that perform well and don’t require any special fussing over. Once you break through and show those buyers what diesels really can do, everyone begins to want them as they become the new cool. Getting higher mileage is a nice bonus.
Gale Banks has been doing his part to change the impression of diesel trucks, driving a Dodge Dakota diesel to Bonneville, going over 220mph and then driving home. The tuning possibilities for diesels are truly amazing these days, you can plug in and add over 100 horsepower by pushing a few buttons. That’s before you open the hood! Again, impressions change when people see examples like that.
Many diesel motorcycles have been built as prototypes or very low production runs but you can expect that to change as well. The best way to get the ball rolling with diesel motorcycles is to build a diesel racer like Audi did. Get one on the track and see what it does. How about forming a new separate class for diesel motorcycles, setting some rules and see who shows up? Maybe in something like a Baja style off road race, that might be a good fit.
If you just drop one in the showroom, you’ll be waiting for the right buyer to come along and that might be a long wait. Take one racing or set some kind of performance records and buyers will be calling, ready to leave a deposit and asking how long before it gets here.
You can bet Audi will sell a lot of diesel cars as a result of their racer. What motorcycle company will step up with a racer of their own?