Mercedes proves big winner in Vincentric diesel cost-of-ownership study

Trevor Hofmann - CAP staff
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The verdict is unclear on whether or not hybrids are pricier to operate than conventional gasoline-powered vehicles when overall costs are factored in, mostly because the electrified alternatives are dropping in price every year. Only the Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid appears to have a clear advantage over its more traditional siblings, as it's the lowest priced entry-level S-Class period. But then again its S350 BlueTec 4Matic diesel-powered counterpart only costs $1,700 more and offers much better fuel economy. Does the pricier diesel deliver better overall value? Or does any diesel for that matter?

According to the Vincentric 2012 Diesel Analysis released yesterday, only 8 of 23 diesel models measured offered better cost-of-ownership over their conventional gasoline-powered alternatives. Vincentric, a U.S.-based third-party analytical firm that claims to be "the leading provider of cost-of-ownership data to the auto industry," says that the 8 diesel-powered vehicles that lower ownership costs include "all five Mercedes-Benz Diesel models, the Audi A3 Diesel, Ford F350 Diesel and the Volkswagen Touareg Diesel."

So what does that say about the other diesel-powered Volkswagens, or the other domestic truck diesels, let alone BMW's two diesel offerings, and the list goes on? According to a Vincentric press release, "When all costs to own and operate a diesel were taken into account, the average cost-of-ownership for diesels was $1,203 more than their all-gasoline powered counterparts, with results assuming an annual mileage of 15,000 over five years."
For each model year, Vincentric measures eight cost elements for more than 2,000 vehicles' configurations, such as "depreciation, financing, fees and taxes, fuel, insurance, maintenance, opportunity cost and repairs." Every month the company recompiles its database to make adjustments for fluctuations in "vehicle prices, resale values, fuel costs, finance rates and other economic and market factors" to ensure the most reliable data possible.

"Vincentric periodically produces our alternative fuel reports to help users understand and apply cost-of-ownership data in their purchasing decisions," said David Wurster, President of Vincentric. "With low fuel costs, environmental benefits and other potential savings, diesel technology is an attractive option, however, as our research shows, low ownership costs and associated cost savings are specific to certain vehicles."

Like hybrid technology, there are other reasons to purchase a diesel over and above simple cost savings. Diesel engines are known to last longer than gasoline engines, with fewer maintenance requirements, while the engine design is renowned for delivering strong off-the-line torque, improving the performance of all types of vehicles, especially those that tow or carry heavy loads.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Audi, Ford, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, Touareg TDI, Diesel, Vincentric,

Organizations: Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz

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