Our friends over at The Diesel Driver are diving deeper into the story about diesel engines in North America and of course, including BMW diesels as well. This article falls in line with the previous one published by BMW just days ago.
“From 1960 through 2002, over 20 car makers ranging from Audi to Volvo offered over 80 diesel-powered passenger cars in the U.S. Indeed, 1981 marked a watershed year for diesel car sales with 520,788 sold. 60% of those came from General Motors and included the company’s biggest sedans, the Cadillac Sedan de Ville and Fleetwood, the Buick Electra and LeSabre, and the Oldsmobile 98 and 88. The oil crises of the 1970s had scared new car buyers enough so that they would put up with the diesel’s noise, fumes, and somewhat iffy starting in cold weather.
Diesel cars at that time accounted for 85% of Peugeot’s U.S. sales, 78% of Mercedes-Benz’, 58% of Isuzu’s, and 50% of Volkswagen’s.
Many popular cars came in diesel versions as well. In 1984, this included the Ford Escort, Nissan Sentra, Pontiac Grand Prix, Toyota Camry and Tercel, and the Volvo 760.
But the GM diesel-powered cars, which comprised the majority of U.S. diesel sales, had significant reliability issues. Blocks cracked and crankshafts as well as the patience of the cars’ owners wore out. As a result, GM ended diesel production in 1985.
1985 was also the year that BMW offered its first diesel in the U.S. market, the 524td. Based on the E28 5er Series platform, which was introduced in 1981, the 524td featured an inline six-cylinder turbodiesel engine that produced 114 hp (85 kW). Ford purchased the 524td’s engine for use in the Lincoln Continental Mark VII for a brief period of time.”