Back in the '80s, there was an attempt to sell diesels in the US. For this experiment, GM, in the interest to saving money, decided to simply use gasoline engine blocks for the diesel engines. I'm sure you can see how that went. Even the VW diesels of the time used the lower ends of gas engines.
Along with the stink of the higher sulfur diesel of the time, and dirty exhaust, the reliability turned most of the US population off of diesel cars. So nearly nobody sold any. The only ones that did until recently were VW and Mercedes. Deserved or not, VW has a poor reliability reputation here, and Mercedes only offers their high end models in the US. We don't get the B-class or smaller.
There are the larger trucks that had diesel options. These are big block engines for hauling and towing large loads. Easier on fuel than their gas counter part, they are still a poor choice for a personal commuter.
Diesel options have grown, and they are cleaner, but they are still mostly in higher priced brands, and not as frugal as the engine options overseas. The smallest blocks we get are 2 liters, but in the car companies defense, most Americans would likely be unhappy with the performance of the smaller engines in the larger cars we get. The closest we have to the VW Polo is the Chevy Spark, and the majority buying that class of car aren't going to pay extra for a diesel engine.
Finally, our diesel fuel costs more than gasoline. Where I am at, it is about 60 cents more a gallon. At the recent low point in gas prices it was a dollar. With a favorable price difference, the cost per mile generally ends up a wash between the diesel and gas model.
Diesels might have a chance in trucks, SUVs, and maybe even minivans. FCA recently started offering a 3L diesel in the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram 1500 pick up. For reference, the 2500+ class trucks have diesels at least twice that displacement. The Ram is the most fuel efficient in its class. GM will be offering a 4 cylinder one in their small pick up next year. Nissan's might be getting one in a couple of years.
As long as the price difference in the fuel doesn't change, diesel cars will remain niche. Even then a hybrid will use less fuel for the typical American driver. The fact that none of our cars get an official tow rating is also a small block on diesel acceptance.
Petrol here tends to be about 40p a litre cheaper than diesel, but UK diesel engines are often much smaller than 2 litres (1.3L seem to be replacing 1.5 and 1.7 litres). When i compare the petrol i20 models to mine, they seem to be doing 35-40 mpg. So that few pence extra a gallon i m more than happy to pay!
ha ha ha! I sure did - I'm making some serious errors, I might need to back off the forums for a while!
My last cock up was using the litres on an ancient receipt in an old jacket pocket with the current miles...I had worked it out right then and there in the forecourt, so had a wobbler when I got home and it was way off...!
Anyway, my top 5 economical and reliable cars (UK mpg figures)
1. 2013 Hyundai i20 1.1 3 cyl diesel - 70 mpg over last 10,000 miles, no problems in 33,000 miles and free road tax.
2. 1994 CitroŽn ZX 1.9 diesel. £400, 65 mpg
3. 1998 Volkswagen Polo 1.9 diesel, 55 mpg, most reliable but the missus didn't like it, so had to go!
4. 2000 CitroŽn Xantia 2.0 Hdi wagon, 45 mpg, Hydropneumatic suspension a treat
5. 1993 Vauxhall Astra 1.7 diesel wagon, 44 mpg on biodiesel, 54 mpg on regular!
The 2, 4 and 5 were all pizza delivery cars, their mileage figures combined highway and extreme city driving!