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Improvements in diesel engine technology allow modern automotive diesels to be quiet, powerful, and clean enough to meet California's emission standards. The introduction of ultra-low sulfur fuel in 2006 which is required in California by the Air Resources Board, opened the door for diesel engine control systems to advance and substantially reduce emissions, using technologies such as particulate filters and catalytic reduction systems.


Several manufacturers have introduced diesel vehicles in California with more coming in the future.


Because of the extra technology that goes into making diesels perform well on the road and comply with emissions standards, they can be an expensive option compared to similarly powerful gasoline engines.

Historically, the average price of diesel fuel has been lower than the average price of gasoline. However, this is not always the case. Worldwide demand for diesel fuel and other distillate fuel oils has been increasing steady, with strong demand in China, Europe, and the United States, putting more pressure on the tight global refining capacity. In the United States, the transition to ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel has affected diesel fuel production and distribution costs. Also, the Federal excise tax on diesel fuel is 6 cents higher per gallon (24.4 cents per gallon) than the tax on gasoline.


Many gas stations offer diesel fuel as well. Here are some resources for finding diesel fuel:

  • Diesel Forum Fuel Locator: A non-profit educational organization dedicated to raising awareness about the economic importance and essential uses of diesel engines, highlighting the continuous improvements to reduce emissions.
  • Gas Price Watch: Allows you to find the lowest fuel prices in your area.
  • U.S. Department of Energy Alternative Fuel Data Center: A site developed by the Department of Energy that provides maps to refueling stations in the US for CNG, LPG/propane, ethanol, electric, biodiesel, hydrogen, and liquefied natural gas (LNG).


Diesel engines provide more power and more fuel efficiency than alternatives such as gasoline, compressed natural gas or liquified natural gas. Fuel combustion is the primary difference between gasoline and diesel engines.


A growing number of these “clean diesels” are coming to market, offering 20-40% better fuel economy and reduced greenhouse gas emissions compared to gasoline vehicles. While diesels still have room to improve when it comes to smog emissions, they are expected to meet more stringent emission standards over the next few years.

To compare the environmental benefits between cars you are shopping for, remember to look for higher Greenhouse Gas and Smog Ratings on the Fuel Economy and Environment Label.

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