Ford’s Chief Operating Officer Nick Scheele has reportedly said that diesel can answer growing concerns over automobile fuel economy and global warming. He made his strongly pro-diesel comments in a panel discussion at the SAE World Congress, reported by Associated Press (AP).

According to the AP report, Scheele admitted that diesel has its problems – notably particulates and high sulphur content – but he said that, “its advantages vastly outweigh its problems.”

He also reportedly criticised the strict air quality regulations in California that diesels have difficulty complying with, saying that diesels need to be sold in sufficient volume to be produced profitably.

The AP report added that a scientist from California defended the state’s position, pointing out that diesel fuel has significant environment and health drawbacks.

The Environmental Protection Agency representative said that the federal government supports the wider adoption of diesel. The petroleum industry is working on low-sulphur diesel that should be out in 2003 or 2004.