2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK250 BlueTEC

The Mercedes-Benz GLK250 BlueTEC 4 MATIC, which has a diesel engine, gets 33% better fuel economy than its gasoline-powered counterpart. (Mercedes-Benz / April 18, 2013)

Diesel vehicles beat out gasoline-powered cars in low ownership costs, saving drivers between $2,000 and $6,000 on average over the course of a few years.

A new study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute that was commissioned by Robert Bosch LLC, a developer of both gasoline and diesel systems among other automotive technologies, found a wide range in savings. Drivers could pocket as little as $67 in a three-year period to more than $15,000 over five years, though the bulk of the study's findings fell into that middle ground of $2,000 to $6,000.

The study authors relied on information from several government agencies, including the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Federal Highway Safety Administration, to find data on average number of miles driven, prices and values for new and used vehicles, and average miles per gallon. They also consulted information on insurance, maintenance and taxes among other factors from Vincentric, which analyzes ownership data. All car prices were adjusted to 2011 dollars using the consumer price index.

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Comparing gas and diesel versions of the same or “nearly identical” vehicles, the authors of the study concluded that clean-diesel cars are more fuel efficient and generally hold value better than their gasoline counterparts.

The researchers highlighted Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz models, noting that a diesel VW Jetta owner would save a little more than $3,000 over three years, while a Mercedes-Benz GL-Class owner could save upward of $13,500 driving a diesel version. 

That might already be translating to heightened consumer interest. According to Edmunds.com analysts, the diesel VW Jetta was the third-most-considered vehicle by people shopping for alternative-fuel cars, trailing only the Prius hybrid and Tesla Model S electric car. 

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Twitter: @c_s_green

catherine.green@latimes.com