More than half the cars sold in Europe today are fitted with diesel powertrains due to several factors but mostly because diesel fuel is taxed less than petrol. Throw in the fact that diesel powered cars are usually more efficient than their petrol counterparts and it’s easy to understand why most Europeans would prefer to drive an oil-burner.

In the United States the situation is very different. Not only is diesel hard to find in many parts of the country, but it’s also significantly more expensive than petrol. In August, diesel fuel averaged $4.30 a gallon – 52 cents more than petrol, according to the Energy Information Agency.

This has proven to be a major hurdle for the roll-out of a new-generation of affordable clean-diesel vehicles from the major carmakers - a point that the CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, Dave McCurdy, explained to Congress today.

McCurdy, who represents carmakers such as the Detroit 3, Toyota, Daimler and Volkswagen, told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that carmakers are worried about high diesel prices, reports The Detroit News. He also revealed that more than dozen new clean diesel car and truck models are planned for U.S. released over the next year but said more needs to be done to speed their roll-out.

Some of the options put forward by McCurdy are to reduce the taxes on diesel, increase America’s production capacity of the fuel, and expand the number of vehicles eligible for the Internal Revenue Service’s clean vehicle tax credits.

There are currently about five million diesel vehicles on U.S. roads, however most of these are commercial vehicles.