WASHINGTON, D.C. – During his State of the Union speech, President Bush called on Americans to “expand the use of clean-diesel vehicles” as part of his new energy plan to cut gasoline consumption by 20 percent over the next decade. Automakers were already responding by unveiling a new generation of ultra-clean, new diesel passenger vehicles that both meet the strictest emission standards ever and achieve 20-40-percent better fuel efficiency than comparable gasoline models.

Manufacturers, including Dodge, General Motors, Ford, BMW Group, Mercedes, Jeep, Audi, Volkswagen, Honda, Nissan, and Mitsubishi are planning to introduce “50-state” diesels in the next two years, as technological innovation promising slashed emissions meets consumer demand for fuel economy and performance. Planned mass-production vehicles include everything from compact cars to luxury sedans, SUVs, and pickup trucks.

DaimlerChrysler AG Chairman Dieter Zetsche announced that the new Dodge Ram and other vehicles will meet strict new U.S. diesel emissions standards for heavy-duty vehicles that take effect in 2010 nearly three years ahead of time. The medium-duty Dodge Ram pickups, featuring a 6.7L Cummins turbodiesel powertrain, will be on sale soon in all 50 states. Chrysler also plans to introduce a diesel version of its Jeep Grand Cherokee early this year.

Volkswagen AG also unveiled plans for its new diesel 2008 Jetta, which will help meet the new stringent EPA “Tier II Bin 5” emission requirements. The clean-diesel Jetta meets these standards without the use of urea-based selected catalytic-reduction technology (SCR). It is expected to achieve 40 mpg in the city and 60 mpg on the highway. In November, DaimlerChrysler announced it was joining forces with Volkswagen and its Audi unit to market clean-diesel Bluetec technology.

These vehicles set the stage for a coming wave of new, 50-state compliant diesel consumer vehicles slated to hit showroom floors and dealer lots nationwide for the 2008, 2009, and 2010 model years, including the Chevrolet Express Cargo Van, Chevrolet Silverado HD Pickup, Ford E-Series Cargo Van, Ford F-Series Super Duty, GMC Savana Cargo Van, GMC Sierra Pickup, Mercedes-Benz E-320 Bluetec, Mercedes-Benz GL 320 CDI (mid-size SUV), Mercedes-Benz ML 320 CDI (large SUV), Mercedes-Benz R320 CDI (touring roadster crossover), and Volkswagen Touareg TDI.

Other prospective new clean diesels seriously considered for introduction in the U.S. market include the Volkswagen Tiguan small SUV, Honda Accord diesel, Audi Q7 SUV, Nissan Sentra, and BMW 535d sedan and X5 sports activity vehicle.