It must have been music to Kurt Liedtke's ears. The chairman, president and CEO of RobertCorp. has been working aggressively to sell U.S. car buyers on modern diesel technology, and he heard encouraging words from two of the Big 3 auto makers at last month's Traverse City automotive conference.
Motor Co. CEO William Clay Ford Jr. urged the industry to collaborate on diesel technology. And Group President and CEO Dieter Zetsche says he is looking to introduce diesel-powered products for North America. Chrysler has diesels “for everything we sell in Europe,” says Zetsche, “and we are considering potentially introducing one or two in this market.”
is the leading supplier of diesel fuel supply systems, so the company stands to benefit mightily if the U.S. market falls in love with diesels the way European motorists have. Problem is, most U.S. car buyers are uninterested and haven't heard Liedtke extolling the virtues of “new diesels.” They're not smoky, noisy or unreliable in winter, as many motorists recall from the 1980s.
To help educate the American public about the benefits of diesels, Liedtke is organizing a dialog between the industry, government and energy companies. “For now, we're calling the initiative the Energy Solutions Dialog Group,” Liedtke says. “Our goal will be to, at minimum, talk four times each year about our energy options. This group won't have a stance on the issues or create propaganda for one solution over another.”