Sport utility vehicles (SUVs) are rapidly conquering the streets of the western world – and there are Bosch diesel components in almost all of them. The ten most popular SUVs in Germany all feature Bosch injection technology, which reduces fuel consumption by ensuring efficient combustion. The company’s common-rail injection systems are also found in many compact SUVs. This popular class brings the benefits of an off-road vehicle to everyday driving: being more compact and more economical, these SUVs fit right in to the urban environment.

Registration figures from the German Federal Motor Transport Authority confirm this SUV growth trend. With the rise of models such as the VW Tiguan, the BMW X3, and the Audi Q5, every sixth new vehicle registered in Germany is now an SUV. In the United States, they already have a market share of 30 percent. And the next few years will see a further global SUV surge, with some 50 new models set for launch by 2017 alone.

Diesel Advantage

Many people choose SUVs for their higher driving position and excellent all-round visibility. Their robust chassis is another good reason, as is the flexibility of their seating. But this increase in comfort should not come at too high a price in terms of fuel consumption. “Diesel is the first choice for SUVs,” says Markus Heyn, president of the Diesel Systems division at Robert Bosch GmbH. The statistics back him up: in Europe alone, some 80 percent of SUVs are diesel-powered. “Their combination of high torque and fuel economy makes diesel powertrains ideal for larger vehicles,” explains Heyn. As well as making large models more fun to drive, high torque gives even compact SUVs plenty of power to tow caravans and boats.

Efficient high-pressure direct injection reduces fuel consumption and hence increases range. Today’s diesel-powered cars can travel around 30 percent further on a single tank than their gasoline equivalents, which means drivers can keep going for long periods without having to stop for fuel. What’s more, modern diesel SUVs make less noise, running quietly and with less vibration.

US: Surge in diesel SUVs

When it comes to US or Asian producers’ SUVs, diesel engines are something of a rarity. An exception is Chrysler’s Jeep Grand Cherokee. For a long time, it was the only the SUVs in the US there was a diesel version. In the next few years it will be joined by further local models. But the majority of non-European SUVs are gasoline-powered. Here, buyers appreciate a modern gasoline direct-injection system, which offers more dynamic performance while achieving a fuel saving of 12 percent compared to traditional manifold injection.

There is another alternative powertrain for SUVs: the plug-in hybrid. Combining an economical internal-combustion engine with powerful electrification, this system offers drivers a range of up to 60 km of purely electric driving. Since plug-in hybrid powertrains are significantly more expensive, they currently appeal above all to customers for whom driving enjoyment is the key consideration, because their additional electric drive delivers even more dynamic performance. However, charging a plug-in hybrid regularly at a power outlet can cut energy costs by up to 90 percent.

Fuel Pilot identifies the right powertrain

Plug-in hybrids are still a niche product today, but over the next few years they will become more mainstream. Until that happens, though, the majority of people looking to buy an SUV will face the choice between diesel or gasoline. They can turn to www.fuel-pilot.de for support: the online portal offers a free comparison of how cost-effective the different powertrain options are for their chosen vehicle. It takes into account factors such as fuel, servicing costs, insurance, tax, and depreciation to tell drivers which powertrain is the best one for them. For instance, the diesel option effectively pays for itself as soon as you buy the Mercedes ML 350. And diesel engines also score well in compact SUVs such as the Opel Mokka, with 20 percent less fuel consumption than the gasoline-powered model and around a third more torque for greater driving enjoyment.

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