Nissan to Launch ‘Clean Diesel’ SUV and Maxima

Nissan announced plans today to launch its first clean diesel vehicle in Japan this fall, reports the Detroit News.

A prototype will be shown at next month’s G-8 meeting in Toyako, Japan. Delegates attending the summit will get a chance to test drive Nissan’s X-TRAIL diesel. The SUV was based on technology co-developed with French partner Renault SA.

In addition to the X-TRAIL, Nissan has said it plans to introduce a clean diesel version of its popular Nissan Maxima in the United States in 2010.

The new X-TRAIL is said to get up to 30 percent better gas mileage than its gas-based counterparts. Although diesel vehicles haven’t really caught on here in the U.S. just yet, they are quite popular in Europe.

Nissan’s drive into clean diesel technology is part of the company’s "Green 2010" plan, which started in December 2006 to catch up with rivals in green motoring technology. The initiative includes research and development of hybrids, fuel cell cars and electric vehicles.

Until the price for a gallon of diesel fuel drops to rival regular gas, I don’t see how diesel vehicles will be successful. The current average price of a gallon of diesel is $4.76, compared to $4.005 for regular gas.