That's my point Charon, you seem to be basing all these negative opinions about diesels on one bad experience you had with one vehicle some 3 decades ago. People aren't forced to drive them, they chose to, they dominate most of the car market from small family hatchbacks, to expensive premium brands at the top end. If they were expensive to maintain and unreliable, do you think they would outsell petrol by 4 to 1? Yes fuel cost is one of the many factors, but it's not the only one.
Percentage sales of diesel cars is a little over 50% in Europe and a bit less in the UK. Europe is by far the biggest market for diesel. Petrol is much cheaper in the US as far as I know, and that's one of the reasons that diesel vehicles have never had a big market share there. They cost more to make and therefore buy, and with cheaper fuel the saving will never cover the increased purchase cost.
I've owned 7 diesel cars over the last 20 years. Some had great engines and were lovely to drive. There is always more noise and vibration though, no matter how expensive. All these were big cars, which is where you get the greatest benefit in terms of economy.
They are definitely not hard to start when its cold, although they may have been 40 years ago!
But you don't have to do much research to see that they are now considered by European governments to be very damaging to health. They will probably go back to being mostly seen in large vehicles, with smaller cars likely to be using small petrol turbo engines which can give similar economy to diesel.
Volkswagen for example have said they will no longer make any diesel engine smaller than 1.6 ltr.
I have driven diesels for over 20 years and seen them really improve.
My Bmw around town gets 46/49 mpg and just over 60 mpg on the motorway.
But DPF's has made me now return to petrol as I only do 20 miles a day now.
All I can say is roll on hydrogen cars.
As diesels become more advanced, reliability improves all the time. If you go to the old French colonies in Africa, you'll find Classic Peugeot diesels with over 1,000,000 Km on them, still going strong. And remember those cars have spent most of their life driving in desert Sands off road.
My Renault diesel never left me stranded on the road, although an alternator failure did. It was a chronic oil leaker, and even after spending hundreds of dollars I couldn't cure it. It utterly refused to start in temperatures below 20 F, unless I put an oil pan heater on it. And yes, that was after maintenance work at Winnebago. Yes, it had glow plugs; yes it had dual batteries. Its power steering rack-and-pinion failed; its starter failed; its alternator failed; its clutch slave cylinder failed; some of the plastic isolators on the sway bars failed; its injector pump leaked (not its fault because the US switched to a low sulfur fuel and the O-rings dried out); and there was no doubt more I can't remember. Its "house" battery was damn near impossible to access, although the automotive battery was conventional. I knew Renault's reputation for "reliability" when I bought it, and damn near didn't buy it because of that. But I hoped having Winnebago's name would help. It didn't. All these failures in less than 80,000 miles.
It also had an interesting failure in the hydraulically-activated clutch. When it had a long hard pull, say up a long hill, the clutch would "go away." Pressing the clutch pedal resulted in no clutch release at all. The clutch did not slip - it wouldn't release. My conjecture was that the slave cylinder was too near the exhaust pipe, and the heat from a long pull vaporized the fluid. I insulated the exhaust pipe and installed a shield. It helped, but did not cure the problem. Fortunately I know how to shift without a clutch. Unfortunately, it always happened on an uphill pull, so when the engine "fell off" the turbo due to low revs, there was one chance only to make the downshift and "catch" the next lower gear with enough engine revs to get the turbo to spool up. The downshift could not be made without the turbo "unspooling" because the reduction in throttle necessary to break torque killed the turbo anyway. Bear in mind that when going uphill speed drops off quickly due to gravity.
Our school district has five buses. Two are gasoline; three diesel. The gas engines start in any weather without any sort of engine heater and with no difficulty. The diesels will have their block heaters plugged in pretty much whenever the weather is projected to go below freezing. Even then the "wait to start" lights take a while to go out. It has happened that the block heaters were forgotten. In one case the driver unloaded in front of the school and left the bus there instead of parking it where the cords are. It took hours to get the thing started and moved.
Many farmers around here use diesel tractors, and usually have block heaters on them. Many of those same farmers keep an old gas tractor for a winter time "chore" tractor. If they have to get out a diesel, they use the gas tractor to drag the diesel around the farmyard until they get it to light off.
Yes, I do have some experience with diesels. Yes, once started diesels are usually pretty reliable. No, I do not intend to buy one for personal use.
Well you are entitled to your opinion of course, all be it from 1984...By the sounds of things, you have experienced commercial diesels, but haven't really owned an every day diesel car. French cars are now just behind Japanese when it comes to reliability now, with Renault in the top 10, you remember when Skoda used to be the laughing stock of the motoring World? Well now they rank in the top 3, usually first. As we try and explain every day almost, things have advanced at an astonishing rate, engines become faster, more reliable, more technical and yet cleaner and more efficient every year. How many times have Audi won the 24 hour let Mans race in their diesel powered race car again?
Charon, pop down to your local dealer and ask to drive a fast diesel, you'll see what all the fuss is about. Some of these cars do 0-60 in less than 5 seconds and some are rated at 60 UK MPG, not exactly tractors like!
The diesels i have owned started in the late '80s and up to 2000. I generally paid £500 for them, and they would be 12-15 years old at time of ownership. I would keep them for 1-2 years (usually to their graves!).
I owned 2 nissan bluebirds, 2 peugeot 406s, 2 citroen ZXs, a xantia, a vauxhall astra, a polo and a rover 75.
Though i had an eye on the mpg, i was a high level pizza delivery boy(!), so was blasting these bangers round urban circuits, speedbumps galore, as fast as i could.
Apart from that rover, none of them cost more than £500 a year in repairs. None let me down or would nt start (including winters with 6 and 4 weeks of snow).
I ran most of them on heating oil, at 1/3 the cost of diesel at the pumps!
So for me, (apart from the rover!), diesels were cheap and reliable - cheap to purchase, maintain and run.
I seriously was the top driver for both my local domino's and several other take aways, and you only got there by being quick, so my old diesels were hammered, hence they were mainly sold to a scrapyard after i d finished with them!
My present primary vehicle is a 2012 Toyota Tundra with the 5.7 V-8 and six-speed automatic. I expect it to be the last vehicle I'll have to buy. It cost me considerably less than any of the modern diesels available here, and is a whole lot more versatile. Those of us who sometimes have uses for pickups have difficulty imagining life without one. I have already looked at the option of acquiring another more economical vehicle for those times when the pickup is overkill, but the economics of taxes and insurance make them non cost effective.