You can't sell diesel engines to American consumers. They won't buy them because they're dirty, noisy and smell bad — their performance stinks, too.” “It will be impossible to meet new environmental regulations coming in 2007.”

“Everybody remembers the bad diesels General Motors Corp. made in the early 1980s.”

These are some of the arguments against offering more diesel cars and light trucks in the U.S.

I drove two new-generation diesels recently, an '02 Jeep Grand Cherokee and an '02 Volvo S80, both Euro spec. I arrived at this conclusion: It's time to give up our old ideas.

I have seen the enemy of diesels in the U.S. and it is us: Aging Baby Boomers with old prejudices.

Even though almost 40% of new cars sold in Europe have diesel engines, many U.S.-based product planners are reluctant to push for them here.

Middle-aged environmentalists can't adjust to the idea that diesels have changed. The Sierra Club believes auto makers can master fuel cell technology in the next few years, but insists it's impossible to make clean diesels.

Take a look at the diesel-propelled Opel Eco Speedster concept. It gets 94 mpg (2.5L/100km) and goes like stink.

Attitudes have to change. There's a new generation of diesels breaking the old rules, and there's a whole new generation of car buyers out there, too. A lot of them love the idea of getting 40 mpg (5.9 L/100 km) in a big car and don't care about the diesel's sordid past. Detroit needs to pick the brains of members of the TDI Club (www.tdiclub.com). They're diesel fanatics. They get together to swap stories about driving 750 miles (1,207 km) on one tank and heap disdain on “hamster powered” hybrid-electric cars like the Toyota Prius.

The 2.7L Grand Cherokee I drove had a 77 lb.-ft. (104 Nm) torque advantage over the standard 4L I-6 gasoline engine, which made it more fun to drive, and the real-world mileage was breathtaking: 18.8 mpg (12.5L/100 km) in the city vs. 10.7 mpg (21.9L/100 km) for the gasoline engine, and 29 mpg (8.1 L/100km) on the highway vs. 19.6 mpg (12 L/100 km).

Almost 30 mpg in a Grand Cherokee! Cleaner diesel fuel is coming. The technology to meet 2007 emissions standards is coming. Hey, let's roll.