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By Robert Rapier on Jul 28, 2011 with 101 responses

The Return of the American Diesel Car

The following guest essay is by Paul Nash, a regular reader here at R-Squared. Paul is an Australian who now lives near Vancouver, Canada. He is an environmental engineer who specializes in doing municipal water and energy efficiency projects, and has had experience in managing small town water and energy utilities. He is also developing small renewable electricity projects – micro hydro and wood biomass – neither of which is in short supply in his part of the world. Paul is also a strong proponent of high efficiency automotive engines and alternative fuels, and takes particular interest in the efficiency and multi-fuel capabilities of diesel engines, which is what prompted this essay.

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There hasn’t been an American made, diesel powered passenger car since the Oldsmobile diesels of the 1980’s, and few people, including GM, have mourned the passing of those old heavy, smoky, loud and slow beasts. For those car drivers who want a diesel, the only option since then has been the venerable Volkswagen diesels, the various iterations of the Jetta, Passat and Golf.

But that is set to change. General Motors’ top selling compact car, the Cruze, is available in overseas markets with the option of a 2L turbo diesel engine. The first rumors surfaced in February that this diesel version might be sold in the US, though GM refused to confirm anything.  It was then reported earlier this month that a decision had been made, though again, no official word.

Well now it is official, as GM’s CEO, Dan Akerson has just confirmed that GM would start selling the diesel version of the Chevrolet Cruze in 2013.

“I drove it the other day. It is great,” Akerson said in an interview with USA TODAY. “These new diesels are quiet. Should make it in the low- to mid-40s, and that’s with an automatic,” the CEO said, referring to the likely fuel economy rating with an automatic transmission.

Winds of Change at GM

Clearly, this is quite a change for GM, who have consistently refused to bring any diesel passenger cars into the North American market, even though they make and sell them all over the rest of the world. Akerson even acknowledged as much, regarding alternative fuel vehicles: “We’re going to introduce battery-only vehicles…CNG vehicles. Stay tuned. This is not the old GM.”

So why the change?  Well, clearly GM sees an opportunity. Volkswagen has seen an increase in diesel sales this year to 22%, compared to past averages of 12-14%.  Sales of diesel cars in the US have typically been around 1% of all sales, but have been trending up recently, with May 2011 seeing a 34% increase compared to 2010 (source).  And the Cruze has been a surprisingly good seller, both in the US and around the world.  Last month it was the top selling car in the US, outselling everything but the F-150 truck.

Versions, Price and Mileage

So this would seem like a good time to put 2 and 2 together, but what will the diesel Cruze be like, how will it drive, what is the mileage, and, most importantly, how much extra will it cost?

As is often the case, if you want to see how things should be done in America, be it cars, beer, or the Olympics, you only need to look to Australia. There, the Cruze is built by GM’s Australian division, Holden, and the current model diesel has been on sale since March 2011.

There are three versions available, with the two gasoline engines being the same ones used in North America;

Using the current average US prices of $3.64 for gasoline, and $3.90 for diesel the annual costs will be $1,631 (1.8) $1,467 (1.4) and $1,376 (diesel). So the diesel will save $255 per year over the 1.8 and $91 over the 1.4.

For the Australian cars, the base price is $20,000, with $2,000 extra for the 1.4 and $4,000 for the diesel. The US pricing starts at $16,500 for the 1.8, is a $2,000 upgrade to the 1.4, and expect the same $4,000 for the diesel.  $2,000 extra would get you an automatic transmission for any vehicle.

According to the Australian reviews, both the 1.4 and the diesel are great cars to drive, with the diesel having slightly better acceleration. The higher power and torque of the diesel make it the better bet if you are likely to be carrying four people, or larger people, or towing anything. Towing capacity ratings in Australia are 1500lb unbraked and 2500lb with trailer brakes. In Canada, it is 1000lb max, and, in the US, there is no listed towing capacity. I suspect this has more to do with the number of lawyers in the respective countries than anything to do with the car itself.

Diesels have always been more fuel efficient than gasoline vehicles, though versions like the ECO are narrowing that gap. It is worth noting that to maximize the mileage of the gasoline ECO, it has had some weight reductions and aerodynamic improvements, plus low rolling resistance tires, compared to the standard and diesel Cruze.

Given the good mileage of the ECO, there may not seem to be much of a case for the diesel.  But, as is the case in Australia, the diesel will likely appeal more to people in rural areas, and those who do lots of driving as part of their job. For drivers who do over 25,000km (15,500 miles) per year, the fuel savings start to really add up, and the greater longevity of diesel engines lead to higher resale values.

Diesels still have a long way to grow in the Australian market; diesel cars (not including SUV’s) were 7% of 2010 sales, up from 4% in 2007 (source).  More interestingly, in the ever-growing SUV market, diesel sales have doubled from 2007 to 2010, and market share has gone from 24 to 34%. If diesel SUV’s were available in the US market, it might help to maintain sales of these high margin vehicles. There are numerous other cars, SUV’s and pickup trucks common to both the US and Australian (and other) markets, where diesel variants are available, so some of these could be introduced into the US market with relatively short lead times.

Conclusion

I think this is a positive step for GM. They finally have a good compact car, a good diesel engine, and a small but growing number of buyers that are looking for real fuel efficiency. The Cruze diesel delivers that – without the expense of a hybrid drivetrain, and, critically, with an improvement in the driving experience over its gasoline model.

In the country that has the most cars, and drives the most miles, diesel vehicles offer potential to make a real impact on national oil consumption. And with fuel efficiency rising in importance to buyers, car companies, and government, the timing may finally be right for a revival of diesel cars – may we see more of them.

  1. By Fred on July 28, 2011 at 1:56 am

    Chrysler made a brief and half hearted attempt at a Diesel SUV with the 2005 Jeep Liberty using the Detroit Diesel Motori 2.8 liter turbocharged Diesel that is used in European Jeeps. I have one. It’s great fun and gets 30mpg in mixed city/highway use.

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  2. By paul-n on July 28, 2011 at 2:48 am

    According to the Wikipedia site on the Jeep Liberty, that diesel model sold over 10,000 in it s first year, which is not bad.  They discontinued the diesel option in 2007 as it could not meet the new diesel emissions standards that were coming in.  

    The very stringent emissions standards have been a major factor in keeping diesels out of the US market.  This was particularly so for small diesels, as the emission control systems costs almost the same whether the engine is 2L or 6.2L.  On a $50k F-350 diesel, a $3k extra  cost is barely noticeable, but on a small car intended to be economical, it is a big deal, as is the extra cost of the diesel engine itself.

     

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  3. By Kit P on July 28, 2011 at 8:05 am

    “And the Cruze has been a surprisingly good seller, ”

     

    Just does to show how many stupid people buy cars in the US.

     

    “The Cruze is Chevrolet’s new compact sedan, replacing the Cobalt in the Chevrolet lineup.”

     

    Never ever buy the first model year of anything GM. The reason that GM has been in trouble in the past is they have been in a hurry to get ‘new’ to the show room and the forget quality and reliability. I was reading the comments on one of the links that Paul posted. Yes, the Civic is ugly and the Corolla is boring but 20 years from now when they have never seen a tow truck, they are things of beauty beloved by the owners.

     

    About the third time you are waiting for tow truck when it is above 100 degrees or minus 20, the POV becomes ugly.

     

    “The Cruze diesel delivers that – without the expense of a hybrid drivetrain, and, critically, with an improvement in the driving experience over its gasoline model.”

     

    Have you driven one Paul? Paul is a smart guy which is what makes him dangerous, He writes with authority about things he is not an authority. If a hybrid or a diesel matches you drive pattern (which means you are smart enough to analyze your driving pattern), they it may be a good choice.

     

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  4. By OD on July 28, 2011 at 8:46 am

    Nice article. I have a couple questions. I know very little about US oil refining, so if these questions are obtuse, please forgive me. It is my understanding that a barrel of oil is currently refined, at least in the US, in a way that results in approx. twice the amount of gasoline versus diesel. I have read this can be tweaked and we can get a lot more diesel per barrel of oil. So what is the maximum amount of diesel you can get from a barrel of oil? Also, does it cost the refinery anything to switch from yielding more diesel than gasoline? I guess I’m just trying to see if moving to higher mpg diesel cars en masse would actually result in lower oil consumption overall. I tried to google it, but apparently i’m not putting in the magic phrase needed to answer this question :-) .

    Anyway, I hope people can afford higher mpg cars in 2013. The current circus in our congress has me very worried. Reading sites like zerohedge probably doesn’t help either.

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  5. By Walt on July 28, 2011 at 9:25 am

    The true value of small scale fuels could compete with gasoline and diesel in the future, and change the dynamic of automobiles.  Here is a “tiny scale” example of what the fuel source and supply could mean to what consumers prefer in autos.

    This is really fascinating when you think about what is possible with a dream.

    ——————————–

    Changing Our Fuel Paradigm

    Posted: 28 Jul 2011 01:37 AM PDT

    “Several years ago, Silicon Valley entrepreneur Thomas Quinn,
    who invented the motion sensor technology for Nintendo’s Wii gaming
    system, believed he could bring fuel production to individuals,” says ITT.

    Quinn’s dream became a reality in the MicroFueler, a machine that allows
    individuals to create their own ethanol at home easily and safely from
    waste.

    “With Quinn’s sense of what makes a winning product, the MicroFueler was
    made small, light and smart — with an internal Internet connection that
    remotely monitors the product performance and automatically ‘phones
    home’ when the pump needs service attention. With Quinn’s financial
    backing, this new pump has moved into limited production and has solid,
    global growth aspirations.”

    “Last year, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger held a press
    conference to credit the MicroFueler for ushering in the ‘dawn of the
    organic fuel era.’” Watch a video of the press conference below to see
    Governor Schwarzenegger introduce Quinn, who then describes the
    MicroFueler and what can be done with it:

    MicroFueler Press Conference

    Ethanol production lends itself to small-scale, local production, which
    has the potential to help people everywhere, including developing
    countries. The government of India has already expressed interest in
    hundreds of thousands of MicroFuelers to help homeowners in remote areas
    produce their own cooking fuel.

    Here’s an eight-minute video of Thomas Quinn describing his MicroFueler and its companion machine, the GridBuster:

    E-Fuel Corporation Presentation

    Quinn says we’re shifting from a “central energy distribution system” to
    a “micro distribution system,” which he says is similar to what
    happened when Apple Computer entered the computer market at a time when
    IBM’s model was central computing mainframes. Apple worked to create the
    micro or personal computer model that we have today.

    In the following short video, Quinn shows you the inside of the MicroFueler and describes how it works:

    Fuel 2.0

    In the following short video, Floyd Butterfield, the chief scientist for
    E-Fuel Corporation, describes how the MicroFueler works (using computer
    animation):

    Floyd Butterfield Talks Technology

    Below is a four-minute video by the Los Angeles Times showing GreenHouse partnering with E-Fuel to turn waste into fuel:

    Who Needs Gasoline?

    How much does the MicroFueler cost? On the video above, the narrator
    says the retail price is $10,000 but with a $5000 “stimulus rebate” the
    unit will really only cost you $5000.

    If you’d like to learn more, CNN Money ran a good story about the MicroFueler: Run Your Car on Compost. And there is plenty of information at the MicroFueler.com web site.

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  6. By rrapier on July 28, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    OD said:

    Nice article. I have a couple questions. I know very little about US oil refining, so if these questions are obtuse, please forgive me. It is my understanding that a barrel of oil is currently refined, at least in the US, in a way that results in approx. twice the amount of gasoline versus diesel. I have read this can be tweaked and we can get a lot more diesel per barrel of oil. So what is the maximum amount of diesel you can get from a barrel of oil? Also, does it cost the refinery anything to switch from yielding more diesel than gasoline?


     

    An existing refinery in the U.S. can shift slightly from gasoline to diesel; maybe about 5% of the barrel. In order to shift a great deal, the refinery would need to be revamped. But if you are building a refinery from scratch or are willing to spend the money to revamp it, you can design your refinery to produce mostly diesel.

    RR

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  7. By Kit P on July 28, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    “This is really fascinating when you think about what is possible with a dream.”

    Walt you dream about being scammed by people in the silicon valley?

    “The EGN bills monthly for the processing of organic waste by the MicroFueler at the agreed upon rate established between you and your servicing distributor.”

    Notice no details are provided about feedstock and through put.

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  8. By paul-n on July 28, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    Never ever buy the first model year of anything GM. The reason that GM has been in trouble in the past is they have been in a hurry to get ‘new’ to the show room and the forget quality and reliability.

    Quite so.  Then you’ll be pleased to note that the Cruze has actually been in production around the world since late 2008, so GM already had two years of experience before releasing this car onto the US market.  By the time the diesel arrives in 2013, they will have had four years for both the car and the engine – I think that is enough time for a shakeout.

    Have you driven one Paul?

    I actually had the 1.8L gasoline one, as a rental car, for one day Sydney last January.  It drives fine, was comfortable, and got the job done.  Like the Corolla and Civic it is not trying to be a sports car, just a car.  I agree that for reliability it is going to have to earn its reputation, only time will tell on that. 

    Since the release of the “Series II” Cruze in Australia in March, the diesel variant has accounted for 20% of sales – that’s a pretty good start.  I expect GM will be watching the Australian market quite carefully, and doing lots of their own high mileage reliability testing on the car and engine. They have too much at stake to not do so.

     

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  9. By Walt on July 28, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    Kit P said:

    “This is really fascinating when you think about what is possible with a dream.”

    Walt you dream about being scammed by people in the silicon valley?

    “The EGN bills monthly for the processing of organic waste by the MicroFueler at the agreed upon rate established between you and your servicing distributor.”

    Notice no details are provided about feedstock and through put.


     

    Kit,

     

    No, I don’t dream about silicon valley scams.  In the last two years I’ve learned much of what comes out of there today is similar to what came out of there in 1999…only with clean tech vs. software.  Thanks to this blog and a lot of reading outside this blog I’ve been able to see the marketing and financial engineering leads the technical merits in the valley.

     

    My point on the dream is in reference to the article.  He did put together what I think is a tiny scale unit.  That in and of itself is a major positive in my world of fighting small scale arguments against highly funded, government guaranteed ethanol projects (your world).  The point I was making was the founder.

     

    Of course there is no mention of feedstock costs.  I know he mentions about $1.00 per gallon for ethanol without opex costs.  He mentions the capex, and I am familiar with the guys in Grand Rapids who are marketing that technology.  They focus on working with foodservice companies, and the like.  It makes really smart sense…but they don’t have government falling over themselves to give them money like the valley boys.

     

    My point, of course, is that small scale is going to come in time.  It would change how auto companies sell vehicles as flex fuel if smaller units take off to make ethanol or methanol at smaller scales, but I think as I study legislation in California Hydrogen is the major push by the autos, and next is the “well-to-wheel” calculations from a conflicting legislative agenda.  Washington is not worth even watching any more as politics changes by the week, and with the stroke of a pen they could just sell oil from storage to gain a few political points.  That city is more nuts that you Kit.  I thought you were insane until I saw what goes on in DC to promote someone’s agenda.

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  10. By rrapier on July 28, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    Walt said:

    If you’d like to learn more, CNN Money ran a good story about the MicroFueler: Run Your Car on Compost. And there is plenty of information at the MicroFueler.com web site.


     

    I covered the Microfueler in some detail. In essence, the claims are borderline — if not outright — fraud:

    Another Journalist Fails Due Diligence 101

    An E-Fuel Microfueler Responds

    And finally, the study they touted has been debunked: An Urban Legend Falls – by NREL.

    RR

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  11. By paul-n on July 28, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    RR wrote;

    But if you are building a refinery from scratch or are willing to spend the money to revamp it, you can design your refinery to produce mostly diesel.

    Robert – does the gravity of the feedstock crude make any difference to the ease of refining gasoline v diesel?  It seems that sources of light crude are depleting,  and much of the new production being developed/evaluated is heavy oil – Canadian oilsands, Venezuela Orinoco oilsands, Saudi Manifa etc.   Would the increasing supply of heavy crude favour producing more diesel?  

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  12. By Walt on July 28, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    Robert Rapier said:

    Walt said:

    If you’d like to learn more, CNN Money ran a good story about the MicroFueler: Run Your Car on Compost. And there is plenty of information at the MicroFueler.com web site.


     

    I covered the Microfueler in some detail. In essence, the claims are borderline — if not outright — fraud:

    Another Journalist Fails Due Diligence 101

    An E-Fuel Microfueler Responds

    And finally, the study they touted has been debunked: An Urban Legend Falls – by NREL.

    RR


     

    Thanks.  It now just makes me even more skeptical of what comes out of silicon valley and these marketing masters.

     

    This is the group in Grand Rapids now handling the technology.  They claim to have a niche with certain feedstock supplies, but it is a niche.

     

    http://www.deanzafuel.com/aboutus.htm

     

    They do have impressive offices in downtown Grand Rapids…this I do know!  It just blows me away to see all those people in the office as frauds.

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  13. By Kit P on July 28, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    “My point, of course, is that small scale is going to come in time.”

     

    That is a marketing concept employed by scam artists but there is no engineering reason to think that is true. It is called a hobby when you buy equipment without expecting a return on investment. It is called a hobby when you provide time to operate a system without expecting to get paid.

     

    Many of us find satisfaction in backyard gardens and compost piles. A few of us find satisfaction in heating with wood. Not many pick production of transportation fuel an appealing hobby. As in any pursuit, good ideas trump bad ones. If one did want to make transportation fuel, I would recommend bio diesel if you have a few acres to plant sunflowers. As Paul states diesels are more popular in rural areas.

     

    If you are in the business of making energy ‘small scale’ is self defeating. There is a threshold above which you can afford housing in rural areas and still pay the doctor bills but do not be surprised to see your kids move to the city and become lawyers.

     

    “That city is more nuts that you Kit.”

     

    Speaking of cities full of lawyers, is it nuts to advocate the scale of energy faculty that provides good paying jobs in rural areas?

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  14. By Benny BND Cole on July 28, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    Congrats to Paul N. on a well-executed article.
    A reminder of how much flexibility we have to reduce oil consumption.

    Imagine a guy gets one of these and moves closer to work. Say his gas mileage doubles and his driving range is cut in half. Suddenly he is using 1/4 the fuel he did for commuting.

    Somedays I see a very bright future–one in whcih OPEC has to worry if they will have any market left.

    The problem is, that leads to oil price collapses–and Americans buying Hummers again.

    We need to tax gasoline.

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  15. By rrapier on July 28, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    Walt said:

    They do have impressive offices in downtown Grand Rapids…this I do know!  It just blows me away to see all those people in the office as frauds.


     

    Walt, they may sincerely believe in what they are doing. But I have documented claims around the product — whether from ignorance on the part of a journalist or misleading claims from the company itself — that are just false. And, if you start to look at the economics you will quickly see that they don’t pan out. They try to make them pan out by grossly stretching the truth, but I debunked this in my essays.

    RR

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  16. By Walt on July 28, 2011 at 10:57 pm

    Robert Rapier said:

    Walt said:

    They do have impressive offices in downtown Grand Rapids…this I do know!  It just blows me away to see all those people in the office as frauds.


     

    Walt, they may sincerely believe in what they are doing. But I have documented claims around the product — whether from ignorance on the part of a journalist or misleading claims from the company itself — that are just false. And, if you start to look at the economics you will quickly see that they don’t pan out. They try to make them pan out by grossly stretching the truth, but I debunked this in my essays.

    RR


     

    agreed.  the website has not changed much since I was there in their offices last year.  It does make me wonder if they are too just finding out.

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  17. By biocrude on July 29, 2011 at 11:49 am

    Paul,

     

    Great article and regarding GM bringing in a diesel passenger vehicle… it’s about time!   You mentioned VW’s long presence with the diesel, but don’t forget about Audi, Mercedes and BMW also having multiple models for sale in the US for the past several years.  I keep my ear out for them (though they are pretty quiet these days) and every time I see someone driving a new X5 or Audi Q7 TDI, I ask them how they like it and all I get is positive responses.  (granted it would be hard to not enjoy either of those vehicles, but my point is that the diesel is that much better!)  You can find the entire list of diesel vehicles available for purchase in the USA here.  *Caveat, you can only run B5 under warranty in most of them, but the tides are turning towards B20 recently, so we’ll see how that plays out.  Also good to keep in mind that if the entire biodiesel industry (2 billion gallons/year) was cranking at full capacity, it would only offset a little bit below a B5 if you blended it into the entire diesel pool.  FYI…

     

    I always knew that Microfueler was a POS.  Add Arnold to the list of those duped by it, as he let them park it on the steps of the State Capital for a day.  Too bad…

    Mazda is going to bring in their SKY diesel line in Fall 2011, which hopefully will spur Toyota and Subaru to get in line and get a diesel Tacoma and Outback over here.  Now that all OEMs can hit the strict air emission requirements with clean diesel technology, it becomes a matter of reducing the carbon of the fuels.  New 2010 Diesel engines are just as clean as CNG.  

     

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  18. By paul-n on July 29, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    Yes, BMW, Audi and Mercedes have indeed had some diesel models available, but, with the exception of the Audi A3, they are all high end SUV’s that are not expected to sell in huge volumes, and are not an option for the average car buyer, or even average SUV buyer.

     

    But, they are out there, and they are selling a few of them.  However, as you can see from this sales chart from dieseldriver.com, all the others put together don’t even come to half of VW’s diesel sales;

    This chart compares the sales of the diesel and gasoline versions of the same models.  You can see that for some models, like the ML350, very few buyers take the diesel option.  I’ll make a gross over generalisation here and suggest that most of the BMW and Mercedes SUV buyers are well off urbanites, including the upper end soccer moms, and diesel holds little or no appeal to them.  Interestingly, according to Edmunds.com, there is only a $1500 price premium for the diesel, so clearly there are other reasons why buyers are preferring gasoline.

    I suspect if there were diesel versions of the Ford Escape & Explorer and Chevy Equinox & Trailblazer, that the sales volumes would do quite well.

    One other point to note with Mercedes – the Smart Car is sold around the rest of the world in diesel form, but M-B USA refused to sell it until a gasoline version was available.  I was told that this was because they did not think there would be enough demand for the diesel, but it could also have been the emissions requirements.  M-B Canada did sell the diesel Smart for three years until the release of the US gasoline version, and since then the diesel version has not been available.  The diesel Smart has become a favourite of many companies that need a parts delivery vehicle.  My local plumbing contracting company has one, and they have found that 80% of their “rush” deliveries, to help one of their guys who is already on a jobsite , can be done with the Smart – they put up 25,000 miles a year on it, and get 50mpg.

    There is a substantial market for diesel vehicles for fleet operators – it will be interesting to see when and who first brings in a midsize diesel PU.

     

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  19. By rrapier on July 29, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    Paul N said:

    RR wrote;

    But if you are building a refinery from scratch or are willing to spend the money to revamp it, you can design your refinery to produce mostly diesel.

    Robert – does the gravity of the feedstock crude make any difference to the ease of refining gasoline v diesel?  It seems that sources of light crude are depleting,  and much of the new production being developed/evaluated is heavy oil – Canadian oilsands, Venezuela Orinoco oilsands, Saudi Manifa etc.   Would the increasing supply of heavy crude favour producing more diesel?  


     

    Paul,

    Yes, most heavy oils favor diesel production. It is all about the assay. I wrote up an essay explaining how different assays impact what the refinery produces: Refining 101: The Assay Essay.

    But the refinery also has to choose crudes that it can run. A heavy crude will produce more diesel, but a refinery may not be equipped to handle it.

    RR

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  20. By rrapier on July 29, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    Biocrude said:

    I always knew that Microfueler was a POS.  Add Arnold to the list of those duped by it, as he let them park it on the steps of the State Capital for a day.  Too bad…


     

    The thing that really drives me crazy is that so many people seem unable to do basic economics. Either that, or they are willing to buy into bogus economic assumptions. Further, the idea that a $10,000 capital cost is utterly uneconomic, but it can be made economic by getting the government to pitch in half the cost — is maddening. The economics still stink, it is just that in that case taxpayers are footing part of those poor economics. In some cases, subsidies make some sense, but here there is no path that is going to see this thing being economical in the future. It is just a case of the government helping to fund a bad investment.

    RR

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  21. By Kit P on July 29, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    “so clearly there are other reasons why buyers are preferring gasoline. ”

     

    Diesel smells bad! Simplot and the NFS experimented with used french fry oil in Yellowstone park and there was no objectionable odor. The bears kept trying to eat the trucks, so that was an issue to work out.

     

    “”rush” deliveries ”

     

    Think how much they could save with proper planning. I took a project management course many years ago. One example of good project management was the a repair of the Alaska pipeline after damage from galvanic corrosion. I suggested that good project management that considered the effects of the environment on the pipeline thus preventing the need for repair would have been a better example.

     

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  22. By paul-n on July 29, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    Diesel smells bad!

    This is one of the reasons why women do not like to buy diesel vehicles, and the fact that the handles on the diesel pumps are often “oily”.  The urban gas stations in Australia (and ones I have seen in the UK) made quite some efforts to make their diesel pumps presentable and clean, so women did not feel like they were at a truck stop.  Usually the best way is to have separate, high flow diesel pump around the side or back for all the trucks to keep them away from the “nice” part of the forecourt.  But the smell is still there.

    Think how much they could save with proper planning.

    When doing household service calls, it is sometimes pretty hard to “plan” – you often don’t know what you will find, until you get there.   Something is different, wrong or missing, the homeowner told you the wrong make/model of toilet, faucet, HW tank, etc, and you can’t take “one of everything” with you.  The older the house, and the occupants, the worse it gets…  The company concerned had found it was better to have the guy call for backup and send someone out there with whatever parts were needed to get the job completed, rather than have the original guy leave the jobsite and return.  Industrial situations are easier to plan for than dealing with all sorts of homeowners and homes.

     

     

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  23. By paul-n on July 30, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    Looks like there will be more incentive for high mileage diesels now - Obama has announced that the CAFE standard will be to reach 54.5mpg by 2025;

    [Friday 29 July] President Barack Obama announced an agreement with 13 major automakers to pursue the next phase in the Administration’s national vehicle program (earlier post), increasing fuel economy to a fleetwide average 54.5 mpge (miles per gallon equivalent) (4.32 L/100km) or 163 g/mile of CO2for cars and light-duty trucks by Model Year 2025.

    The new program has different rates of increasing stringency for cars and light-duty trucks:

    • Stringency of standards for passenger cars would increase by an average of 5% each year.
    • Stringency of standards for pick-ups and other light-duty trucks would increase an average of 3.5% annually for the first five model years and an average of 5% annually for the last four model years of the program, to account for the challenges associated with this class of vehicles.

    3.5% improvement for trucks is hardly an ambitious goal – it could be met tomorrow with diesels.  As an example, the Chevy Colorado midsize PU, comes with options of a 2.9, 3.7 and 5.3L gasoline engine, which get EPA mileage (combined) of 21, 19, and 16mpg.  The Holden Colorado – the same truck, sold in Australia, has the option of a 3L turbo diesel, and gets a combined mileage of 29mpg.   That is nine years of 3.5% improvement right there, and this truck is on the road today.

    One day, it will be on America’s roads too…

    [link]      
  24. By Wendell Mercantile on July 30, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    This is one of the reasons why women do not like to buy diesel vehicles, and the fact that the handles on the diesel pumps are often “oily.”

    The Meijers chain of big-box stores in the Midwest sell diesel and have courteously put a plastic glove dispenser at each of their diesel pumps. Before taking hold of the diesel pump, one slips on a disposable plastic glove to protect their hand from that “oily” handle, throwing it away when done.

    They are so handy, I sometimes take three or four to keep in the trunk for when I’m at a filling station that doesn’t have them.

    I’ve driven diesel cars since 1984, and it’s about time GM has moved on this. Part of the reason they hadn’t is they poisoned the well in the 1970′s when they made some really bad diesel engines by converting a standard gasoline V-8 to diesel without the properly engineering them to withstand the high compression. Just hope whomever it was at GM responsible for that 1970′s fiasco is long gone.

    The Holden Colorado – the same truck, sold in Australia, has the option of a 3L turbo diesel, and gets a combined mileage of 29mpg.

    I agree, GM needs to put the same 4-cylinder diesel engine in other cars and trucks. Both the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon small pickup trucks need to be available with diesel engines.

    [link]      
  25. By Wendell Mercantile on July 30, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    Think how much they could save with proper planning. I took a project management course many years ago.

    Kit P.

    There you go. You need to offer your services to President Obama and the U.S. Congress; teach them about project management; and put them on the road to using proper planning practices.

    [link]      
  26. By mac on July 30, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    Last month the Hybrid Cars website stated that 12,714 gasoline-electric hybrids were sold in June, 2011 in the U.S., versus 8,653 clean diesels (mostly imports) for the same period.

    New competition for the hybrids ?

    [link]      
  27. By biocrude on July 30, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    Mac,

    Better yet, combine the two efficiencies of diesel and hybrid!

    [link]      
  28. By paul-n on July 30, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    Volvo has been working on just that concept, though I think it will make for a very expensive car..

    http://www.gizmag.com/volvo-v6…..rid/17940/

     

     

    @ Wendell,

     

    I think the potential market  for diesel PU’s is quite large here.  Since they are mostly male buyers, the “oily” part is not an issue.  And with the torque and towing capacity of the diesels, some of the drivers who might buy an F-150 to pull the boat/RV trailer would find that a diesel midsize can do the job instead.   The rated towing capacity of most midsize trucks is 5500lbs, and the Colorado diesel sold in Australia is the same.  But if I had to tow 5500lbs with a gasoline engined Colorado, it would be an expensive trip!  A diesel, no problem.

     

    And there is a market for the “small” pickup, which has dissappeared from the US market.  In Australia (and elsewhere) this is being filled by the Mahindra “PikUp”, from India.  2.2L, 4cyl turbo diesel, 5500lb towing capacity, and prices start at all of $21k in Australia;

     

     

    Not as fancy as the Colorado, but for  a business or farmer that just wants to get the job done, economically, they are just fine. 

     

    [link]      
  29. By mac on July 30, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    Here’s a link about why someone might choose a diesel over a gas-electric hybrid.

    While the variable valve timing of the Atkinson cycle engine (Toyota) is more efficient than the fixed cam timing of the standard IC engine, I don’t think it compares with the up to 30% efficiency gain in diesels. Perhaps this is why appx. 50 % of Europe’s automobiles are diesels and not hybrids.

    http://www.eetimes.com/electro…..esel-grows

    [link]      
  30. By mac on July 30, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    Biocrude,

    I think Volkswagen or Audi has kicked this around for a while ….. an efficient “diesel-electric hybrid”

    There is a “premium” paid for a diesel engine as well as for hybrid batteries.

    Combining the two implies more expensive automobiles. The “trade off?

    I don’t know………

    I suppose it depends on the price of crude.

    [link]      
  31. By paul-n on July 31, 2011 at 12:58 am

    I suppose it depends on the price of crude.

    No, it depends on the retail price of gasoline and diesel fuels.  Europe pays the same for (imported) crude oil as the US, but how many drivers get to buy and run on crude?  It all depends on the price at the pump.

    In Europe they have taxed both fuels, and they are the equivalent of about $8-9/gallon.  Just think for a  moment, at that price, how much you would be prepared to pay for a vehicle that got 30mpg instead of 20?

    This is why 40-45% of car sales in Europe are diesels.

    I am not suggesting that fuel be taxed to that level here.  But presently, because it is so cheap, the higher cost of making vehicles more fuel efficient often makes the economics unfavourable.  For many people, the best thing is to just keep their existing car, regardless of the fuel consumption – this is part of the reason why new vehicle sales have been declining.

    In fact, considering this chart, you can almost conclude that the trend in fuel prices is the major factor in determining the trend in car sales;

    Lots of other interesting inflation adjusted data from EIA

    It’s amazing to think that number of “cars” sold today is less than in 1952!

     

     

    [link]      
  32. By russ-finley on July 31, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    I’m a big fan of the new turbocharged injected diesel vehicles. They get some impressive mileage.

     

    Paul N said:

     The Cruze diesel delivers that – without the expense of a hybrid drivetrain ….

     

    16.5+2+4+2= $24.5K for a diesel automatic sedan? There isn’t that much difference. You can get a 2011 Prius for $24,579, a hybrid Civic for less, and an Insight for even less.

     

    You took the words out of my mouth when you said:

     Volvo has been working on just that concept [hybrid diesel], though I think it will make for a very expensive car.

     and …

     

    This is why 40-45% of car sales in Europe are diesels [high price of fuel].

     

    Although I would add that Europe has paid the price of much worse air quality because of those diesels. With the advent of the cleaner low sulfur fuel, manufacturers can finally meet US standards.

     

    It’s amazing to think that number of “cars” sold today is less than in 1952!

     

    That is amazing. Times are changing.

     

    PS, I got my Leaf

     

     

    Question for RR

     

    Since diesel contains more energy per unit volume, it must take more energy to produce it. Part of the improved mileage of a diesel comes from the higher energy content of the fuel, so if you account for all energy inputs, a diesel actually does not use 35-40 percent less energy as the mileage suggests. It is closer to 25 to 30 percent? This problem applies to carbon emissions as well?

     

    Biocrude said:

     

    *Caveat, you can only run B5 under warranty in most of them, but the tides are turning towards B20 recently, so we’ll see how that plays out. Also good to keep in mind that if the entire biodiesel industry (2 billion gallons/year) was cranking at full capacity, it would only offset a little bit below a B5 if you blended it into the entire diesel pool. FYI…

     

    …assuming food-based biodiesel is worse in the aggregate than regular diesel, including cost, why promote its use?

     

    I always knew that Microfueler was a POS. Add Arnold to the list of those duped by it ..

     

    The same might be said for people who have been convinced to burn virgin vegetable oil in their cars ; )

     

    RR said:

     

    It is just a case of the government helping to fund a bad investment.

     

    Kinda like the never ending biodiesel subsidy.

     

    [link]      
  33. By rrapier on July 31, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    Russ Finley said:

    Question for RR

     

    Since diesel contains more energy per unit volume, it must take more energy to produce it.


     

    No. Think about crude oil itself. Gasoline contains roughly 115,000 BTU/gal, but totally unprocessed crude oil contains 138,000 BTU/gal. It has more to do with the length of the hydrocarbons than it does the amount of processing. Historically, diesel actually took less energy to process than did gasoline. With the new ultra low sulfur specs, that may have changed though.

    RR

    [link]      
  34. By mac on July 31, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    “Historically, diesel actually took less energy to process than did gasoline. With the new ultra low sulfur specs, that may have changed though.”

    RR

    Wasn’t diesel less expensive than gasoline (per gallon) at one time in the past ?

    [link]      
  35. By russ-finley on July 31, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    RR said:

     

    It has more to do with the length of the hydrocarbons than it does the amount of processing.

    Got it but I did a poor job of asking that question. I was referring to embodied energy in the fuel.  I’m assuming that the 138,000 BTU can be split into BTUs of gas and diesel (minus processing losses). Assuming for the sake of discussion a 10% loss to refine it, you might get 125,000 BTU of some combination of gasoline and diesel. If you created 62,500 BTUs worth of gasoline and 62,500 BTUs of diesel, would you get more gallons of gasoline than diesel? If so, this suggests to me that comparing diesel mileage to gasoline is a little misleading because you are consuming more energy when you burn a gallon of diesel.

    Did that make any sense?

    [link]      
  36. By rrapier on July 31, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    mac said:

    “Historically, diesel actually took less energy to process than did gasoline. With the new ultra low sulfur specs, that may have changed though.”

    RR

    Wasn’t diesel less expensive than gasoline (per gallon) at one time in the past ?


     

    Actually, up until a few years ago diesel was almost always less expensive. But that looks to have permanently changed due to the higher processing costs to meet the low sulfur specifications.

    RR

    [link]      
  37. By rrapier on July 31, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    Russ Finley said:

    I was referring to embodied energy in the fuel.  I’m assuming that the 138,000 BTU can be split into BTUs of gas and diesel (minus processing losses). Assuming for the sake of discussion a 10% loss to refine it, you might get 125,000 BTU of some combination of gasoline and diesel. If you created 62,500 BTUs worth of gasoline and 62,500 BTUs of diesel, would you get more gallons of gasoline than diesel? If so, this suggests to me that comparing diesel mileage to gasoline is a little misleading because you are consuming more energy when you burn a gallon of diesel.
    Did that make any sense?


     

    If I split a barrel of oil up and refine it, from that barrel is going to come some lower BTU components like gasoline and some higher BTU components like diesel, kerosene, and fuel oil. If I had 125,000 BTUs of say a 50% by weight mixture of gasoline and diesel, when I split that I will end up with something like 60,0000 BTUs of gasoline and 65,000 BTUs of diesel.

    But if I had 62,500 BTUs of gasoline and the same amount of diesel, yes, you would have a greater quantity of gasoline since it’s energy density is lower.

    RR

    [link]      
  38. By mac on July 31, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    Russ,
    Congrats on your new LEAF.
    Running off domestically produced electricity I take it ? Even if much of that electricity is produced from U.S. coal and natural gas.

    At least it’s OUR coal and OUR natural gas.

    [link]      
  39. By russ-finley on July 31, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    Communications skills just are not my strong suite. Switching to engineering language:

     

    Source

     

    [link]      
  40. By russ-finley on July 31, 2011 at 8:12 pm
    mac said:

    Russ, congrats on your new LEAF. Running off domestically produced electricity I take it ? Even if much of that electricity is produced from U.S. coal and natural gas. At least it’s OUR coal and OUR natural gas.

    Thanks mac. I seem to be less concerned about free trade with other countries than most people. That trade is what keeps our energy prices down (along with prices for most other goods). It also tends to motivate all players to behave–less they lose a customer or inversely,  coveted goods.

    If I lived in a sunny place like Tucson, I’d be tempted to invest in a rooftop of solar panels. But I live in the Pacific NW, and we get about 7 times less sun here (making solar about 7 times more expensive). However, we do get a lot of precipitation, especially in the surrounding mountains. We have a lot of hydro electric. Essentially, my car is being charged by rainfall.

     

     

    [link]      
  41. By rrapier on August 1, 2011 at 3:32 am

    Russ Finley said:

    Communications skills just are not my strong suite. Switching to engineering language:

     

    Source

     


     

    Never seen it presented quite like that. It may be true for the Hybrid versus a TDI, but it won’t be true for a normal gasoline engine versus a normal diesel engine.

    RR

    [link]      
  42. By paul-n on August 1, 2011 at 3:54 am

    Russ Finley wrote;

    16.5+2+4+2= $24.5K for a diesel automatic sedan? There isn’t that much difference. You can get a 2011 Prius for $24,579, a hybrid Civic for less, and an Insight for even less.

    Russ, you double counted here – it is $2k extra for the 1.4L gasoline, or $4k extra for the diesel.  So, you can get on the road, in the diesel (manual), for $16.5+4k = $21.5k.

    The auto is an optional extra cost that increases fuel consumption – if you are trying to save fuel why would you do that?

    The auto/hybrid is an advantage for city driving, but a not for hwy.  That is why I expect the Cruze diesel to be popular with long distance drivers – who are also more likely to opt for manual.  I expect city taxi drivers to keep buying Prius’ – I doubt even the Volvo hybrid will change that.

     

    Congrats on the Leaf – I look forward to a progress report!

    [link]      
  43. By moiety on August 1, 2011 at 4:03 am

    Robert Rapier said:

    mac said:

    “Historically, diesel actually took less energy to process than did gasoline. With the new ultra low sulfur specs, that may have changed though.”

    RR

    Wasn’t diesel less expensive than gasoline (per gallon) at one time in the past ?


     

    Actually, up until a few years ago diesel was almost always less expensive. But that looks to have permanently changed due to the higher processing costs to meet the low sulfur specifications.

    RR


     

    Yes that is true. Ireland used to get most of its diesel for mthe Whitegate refinery in Cork. It was sold in 1999 to Conoco (or a subsidary of) and in 2002, it started producing low sulphur diesel. Historically diesel was 10 cents below petrol up to that point. Now they are the same price more or less and that change happened very quickly.

    http://www.hydrocarbons-techno…..whitegate/

    [link]      
  44. By paul-n on August 1, 2011 at 12:45 pm

     

    This would make a good traveling car for the money.

    My sentiments exactly.  There is a very nice looking hatch version of the Cruze that will be available in Australia, and rest of the world (except N. America) next year.  With the torque/towing capacity of the diesel it would be perfect for a getaway with one of these;

     

     

    [weighs all of 1000lbs]

    Can’t do that with a Prius!

     

    [link]      
  45. By Kit P on August 1, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    “We have a lot of hydro electric. Essentially, my car is being charged by rainfall. ”

     

    This would be funny if an engineer from Purdue did not say it. Increased demand in the PNW comes from burning NG from Canada unless Russ intends not to drive his car in drought years or in the summer and winter. Russ you may not want to drive your BEV car anyplace where it is too hot or cold.

     

    One of the largest coal plants in the world is down the road form Russ.

     

    Centralia:

    http://www.industcards.com/st-…..-ak-wa.htm

     

    There is a funny story here. The watermelons in Seattle like to pretend that Washington State has no coal plants. Just because Seattle City light sold in it to TransAlta does not mean it went away.

     

    Having grown up in both Seattle and
    northern Indiana and paid attention in college, I know some things
    that Russ does not. Water freezes below 32degrees. In the mountains
    it snows in the winter time.

    [link]      
  46. By Kit P on August 1, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    “This would make a good traveling car for the money. ”

     

    And why do I call it a Pious? If you want to save energy stay home. The problem I have with watermelons is they always have some trivial solution to justify their commutative lifestyle.

    [link]      
  47. By biocrude on August 3, 2011 at 1:40 am

    @ Russ, apologies in advance, I just have been wanting to make some beef (grass fed) with you for some time now…

    Three things:

    1)-  A Toyota Yaris isn’t meant to tow anything.  It is a small, underpowered gasoline car and it makes me laugh to think of you towing a trailer around Seattle.

    2)-  Why do you hate biofuels so much?  I know you are well versed on the Food and Fuel debate, but have you ever stopped to think that 2/3s of the world has too much to eat (including you) and a 1/3 does not have enough to eat?  There’s not a food shortage, there is a distribution problem.  Don’t get me wrong, our Big Ag corn farming situation could be a lot more efficient and sustainable, but the other reality is that it feeds the world.  The USA produces too much food and exports it around the world making it too cheap for emerging farmers to compete with imported American grains.  Why farm yourself in your own country if you are going to lose money?  Better to turn it into ethanol, and stop exporting it to developing countries.  Developing countries are dependent on imported food just like the US is on petroleum.  (Before everyone jumps all over me, I am well aware that there is a significant amount of petroleum involved in commercial farming in the US, but the fact is it is getting more efficient, and continues to use less fertilizer, pesticides, and increase yields of corn year after year.)   

    3)-  What is the ILUC of mining all the lithium for use in your EVs?  

    4)-  What is the matter with a regular bicycle?  Why does one need an EV bicycle?  Last time I checked, bikes were awesome on their own.

    5)-  Glad you are now driving a Leaf and not your environment ruining Jeep with smoking brakes.  You will now be emitting an enormous cloud of SMUG wherever you go.  You should drive it all the way down to SF where everyone smells their own farts… (you can’t, because you don’t have the range and there’s no EV charging infrastructure to get you here)

    Stop focusing on your personal utopia that you have in your mind where people ride hydrogen powered unicorns.  Instead, focus your efforts on solutions that reduce the strategic value of petroleum.  There are issues and problems with any alternative to petroleum, yet we need all of them.  I’m not here to hate on these alternatives, my goal is to try and make you think from a different perspective.  Biofuels are not the enemy, our petroleum dependence is…

    We absolutely need every bit of petroleum we can get our hands on, the question is will we be able to afford it.  

     

    [link]      
  48. By Kit P on August 2, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    “I would say the original Jeep, ”

     

    That is the image that is being sold. Paul if Russ was was some college kid wasting gas tearing up sand dunes with a ‘save the planet’ bumper sticker I would understand. However, Russ persistently claims to make choices based on the environment. That is a good thing. Making poor choices is not.

     

    “best chick magnet car too”

     

    I can respect that. Men who make bad choices finding women who make bad choices.

    [link]      
  49. By paul-n on August 3, 2011 at 1:22 am

    Yes, it is indeed the image being sold – it’s just that having seen the real McCoy, which most people haven’t, you realise that the image is only thing that connects the current one to the original.

    Maybe its time for a reproduction of the original.

    After all, there is a Vancouver company making reproductions of the original kubelwagen.   Hand built, but those who want them, want them – after all, how many cars are there that you can buy with a 75hp engine!

     

     

     

     

    [link]      
  50. By russ-finley on August 1, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    Paul N said:

    Can’t do that with a Prius!

    No you certainly cannot. The Prius owner’s manual tells you not to tow anything and to my knowledge, the only trailer hitches available for it are meant for bicycle racks, although some people have used those for towing. I wouldn’t want to risk burning out the electric motor.

    I considered getting a diesel for just that reason instead of the Leaf. However, I own a third car, a Yaris. I put a hitch on it and towed my utility trailer fully loaded to get a feel for it. No problem in the city although I would not take it on the highway. Good enough for now. I drove my beloved Jeep to a junkyard last week, got $300 for it even though the right front brake was smoking ; )

    A hatchback diesel Cruze with a utility trailer would be a lot more cost effective and functional than an F-150.

     

    RR said:

     

    Never seen it presented quite like that. It may be true for the Hybrid versus a TDI, but it won’t be true for a normal gasoline engine versus a normal diesel engine.

     

     

    http://iaspub.epa.gov/greenveh…..le_ID=7159

     

    [link]      
  51. By russ-finley on August 1, 2011 at 9:17 pm

     

    Washington State has generated roughly 23 times more power from hydro than coal this year. Snow is a form of precipitation. Gradual snow melt fills our reservoirs and keeps the turbines humming, especially this year:

    Source

    As the snow melted, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), the federal agency that markets electricity from the U.S.-owned dams in the Pacific Northwest, started to curtail fossil and wind generators during periods of low energy demand to manage hydro production to protect fish and control for flooding, among other things.

    Bonneville replaced that curtailed generation with free or very low-cost hydro generation.

    By the end of May, BPA had curtailed a total of 5,810 megawatt-hours (MWh) of fossil generation in its control area. By mid-June, fossil curtailments jumped to 10,366 MWh, according to BPA’s website.

    Energy analysts say strong water years can lead to a significant reduction in gas use for the region, cutting as much as 1.5 billion cubic feet daily, or about 2.5 percent, from total U.S. gas demand.

    [link]      
  52. By paul-n on August 1, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    A hatchback diesel Cruze with a utility trailer would be a lot more cost effective and functional than an F-150.

    Almost…

     

    The only thing missing is all wheel drive on the Cruze.

    And for that, you go to the car I would buy were it available here, the Subaru Forester Diesel - comes with the world’s first, and only, flat four diesel.

     

     

    2.0L 4cyl, turbo diesel, 40mpg hwy, towing capacity 3500lbs.

    The Subaru diesel has garnered quite the reputation, with some people trading their VW Jettas for it!

    [link]      
  53. By russ-finley on August 1, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    Paul N said:

     

    The Subaru diesel has garnered quite the reputation, with some people trading their VW Jettas for it!

     

    I didn’t know that car existed. Had it been available this year, and I knew about it, I might have gone for it instead of the Leaf.

    [link]      
  54. By rrapier on August 2, 2011 at 12:05 am

    Russ Finley said:

    RR said:

     

    Never seen it presented quite like that. It may be true for the Hybrid versus a TDI, but it won’t be true for a normal gasoline engine versus a normal diesel engine.

     

     

    http://iaspub.epa.gov/greenveh…..le_ID=7159

     


     

    Yep. What you see there is the difference in the efficiency of the two engines. But then on a volumetric basis, the difference is even greater because now you have the higher efficiency of the diesel and the greater BTUs of diesel per gallon.

    RR

    [link]      
  55. By paul-n on August 2, 2011 at 12:08 am

    Sadly, the Subaru diesel is not available in Can/US, and the company “has no plans”  to bring it here.

    That could change, but for now its all gasoline.

    I drove a 97 Subaru Impreza 2.2 for four years – and used it to tow that Boler trailer picture above.  Great car – if it had the diesel it would be unbeatabale.  

    2L sized diesels in AWD hatches,wagons and SUV’s would indeed redefine the “utility vehicle”.  And a 2L diesel PU would do almost everything the f-150 does at 2/3 the price and 1/3 the fuel!

    [link]      
  56. By Kit P on August 2, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    “Washington State has generated roughly 23 times more power from hydro than coal this year.”

    Excellent example of cheery picking data to serve your purposes.

    Russ if you want to learn more about power in the PNW study this site:

    http://transmission.bpa.gov/bu…..altwg.aspx

    What that real time curve shows is that when Russ charges his BEV, the increased demand is coming from coal. The reason for this is that hydro has dropped off 6000 MWe since the end of June when Russ’s link discusses the issue.

    “fills our reservoirs”

    That part of the problem. The system does not have enough storage capacity to produce electricity when it is really needed later in the year. In a normal year, Russ’s BEV would not be charged with electricity that comes from inefficient peakers supplied by NG from Canada.

    Do not get me wrong Russ. I am in the electricity generating industry and I want to take as much of RR market as we can. So encourage all your ‘green’ friends to buy BEV.

    Before I spend $40k on a BEV, I will be buying a bigger boat with a diesel generator to keep my beer frig running..

    For those of you considering the ability to tow with a big engine, it is the ability to stop that counts. When I towed a boat of a trailer, I never went over 55 mph with our ¾ tone 2wd GMC Suburban. Only once did a steep grade require me to go slower.

    Going fast while towing kills mileage. If you have a high center of gravity POS with poor with distribution, towing at high speed is insane.

    “I drove my beloved Jeep to a junkyard last week”

    That where all Jeeps belong. Completely useless POS sold completely on image. Just what a family guy needs who lives in a city with a mild climate.

     

    [link]      
  57. By paul-n on August 2, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    That where all Jeeps belong. Completely useless POS sold completely on image. Just what a family guy needs who lives in a city with a mild climate.

    Not quite all.  I knew a guy in my university days who had one of the original Jeeps – a 1944 ex-army one.  His father had used it on the farm forever and then this guy restored it as a school holiday project and it was car in his Uni days.  best beach vehicle I have ever seen (best chick magnet car too, but that’s another story) 

     

    I would say the original Jeep, like the Beaver floatplane, is a rare case of something that was built right the first time.  As often happens, in the process of all the “improvements” they lost the original concept of small, light, indestructible, and cheap

    [link]      
  58. By russ-finley on August 1, 2011 at 9:40 am

    Paul N said:

     

    Russ, you double counted here…

     

    My bad. This would make a good traveling car for the money. The Insight goes for as low as $18,200 but its good to have a choice other than the few hybrids available.

     

    RR said:

     

    It may be true for the Hybrid versus a TDI, but it won’t be true for a normal gasoline engine versus a normal diesel engine.

     

    Good point. Don’t have time now but will apply the spreadsheet to some normal cars later.

    [link]      
  59. By Kit P on August 3, 2011 at 10:10 am

    “You will now be emitting an enormous cloud of SMUG wherever you go. ”

     

    Ouch! Biocrude these people have nothing to be smug about.

     

    “Last time I checked, bikes were awesome on their own. ”

     

    The defining feature of Seattle and the SF Bay area is freeways. I can remember as a kid riding my bile every where in places like the small town in Ohio where I was born, Seattle, and the SF Bay area. It is still safe in the small town in Ohio but the hurry up and get on the freeway culture makes it too dangerous for adults let alone children to ride a bike most places. So now they are smug about bike trails. You see a Yaris with a bile rake or a bike trailer.

     

    Driving to the mountains to ride your bike does not help the environment. I do love going to the mountains but I do it for my enjoyment. I want to thank all the folks who work for Shell that make it possible.

     

    If I had to drive a lot on business, my first choice would be bio diesel. If do something like driving sparingly, what you drive is not too important.

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  60. By paul-n on August 5, 2011 at 4:56 am

    A couple more pieces of information regarding diesel v gasoline fuel efficiency.

    Fuel mileage of some 1990′s cars;

    note the Geo subcompact, and compare it to the current Toyota Yaris;

     

    Quite an improvement there, but how about the diesels?

    This graph is from drive55.org, and shows collected diesel mileage v speed, at constant speed, from VW TDI owners;

    Certainly a sweet spot around 30-40mph – typical urban speeds.

    To  see this data in terms of energy consumed per mile, I have re-plotted it, with fuel consumption in international units of L/100km.  The relationship of fuel consumption to the square of speed is very apparent;

     

    While it would be very inconvenient and time consuming, a national road speed limit of 40-50mph, if enforced and followed, would clearly make a serious dent in national oil consumption.

    As would widespread adoption of diesel cars, at any speed…

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  61. By carbonbridge on August 7, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    Paul N said:

    A couple more pieces of information regarding diesel v gasoline fuel efficiency.


     

    Paul:  Very nice guest post which generated lots of dialoge.  I backed up and read through it just now, daze later.

    Personally, I’ll never own a diesel.  Don’t care for the chatter, would not breathe the lifetime pollution out the tailpipe, wouldn’t force someone behind me to breathe such deadly fumes.  I’ll change traffic patterns simply to get away from smelly diesels in front of me…  New diesel emissions equipment busts apart unburned black soot and makes its particles smaller, you don’t see them, – yet breathing these smaller minus 10 micron particles into the lung’s alveoli is even more deadly.

    -Mark

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  62. By russ-finley on August 7, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    Paul said:

    I would say the original Jeep, like the Beaver floatplane, is a rare case of something that was built right the first time.  As often happens, in the process of all the “improvements” they lost the original concept of small, light, indestructible, and cheap

     

    I would tend to agree with you on the Beaver.  I believe it was Patton who said our Jeep was the best weapon the Germans had or something to that effect. Their suspension combined with a narrow wheel base made them prone to rollover.

    Certainly a sweet spot around 30-40mph – typical urban speeds.

    Not sure you have an accurate database there, Paul. It shows a range of 60 to 90 mpg at that speed. Here is the EPA data for three TDI cars:

     

    Carbon Bridge said:

    I’ll change traffic patterns simply to get away from smelly diesels in front of me…

     

    I do the same, especially when it’s burning biodiesel and I’m on my bike. Doesn’t matter if the smoke you breath comes from wood or vegetable oil, not good for your lungs.

     

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  63. By russ-finley on August 7, 2011 at 6:19 pm

     

    The problem I have with watermelons … The watermelons in Seattle …

    What that real time curve shows is that when Russ charges his BEV, the increased demand is coming from coal.

     

    Nobody lets more water over the dam or throws more coal on the fire when I plug my car in. There will have to be a lot more electric cars on the road before that happens. The goal is to bring low carbon sources on line in parallel with electrification of transport.

    The system [hydro power] does not have enough storage capacity to produce electricity when it is really needed later in the year.

    Hydro provides power all year long. Nobody ever claimed that its magnitude is constant, but keep the strawmen coming, you make a wonderful foil for the other readers.

    That where all Jeeps belong [scrapyard]. Completely useless POS [piece of shit] sold completely on image. Just what a family guy [me] needs who lives in a city with a mild climate.

    I’ve written many articles about the success of SUV marketing. Here go read about the SUC (Sport Utility Cup).

     

    The SUV marketing gimmick was/is brilliant. It gets people to buy what are essentially station wagons by rebranding them as Sport Utility Vehicles.

     

     

    That 89 Cherokee served my family long and well, on logging roads to my forest property, to haul tools and materials in a trailer as part of my business, and many a car camping trip. Wonderful workhorse.

    … if Russ was was some college kid wasting gas tearing up sand dunes with a ‘save the planet’ bumper sticker I would understand. However, Russ persistently claims to make choices based on the environment. That is a good thing. Making poor choices is not. I can respect that [Jeep dune buggies are chick magnets]. Men who make bad choices finding women who make bad choices.

    …says the fruitcake to the watermelons …eyes rolling.

     

     

     

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  64. By Kit P on August 7, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    “not good for your lungs. ”

     

    Invariably those who worry about such insignificant risk will proclaim also the benefits smoking rope. The risk of transportation is not pollution but getting run done by a dope head who is texting his drug dealer. Unless you are driving your jacked up 4wd 80 mph.

     

    “Don’t care for the chatter ”

     

    Another good reason not to own a diesel. While I intellectually understood that was normal for diesels, for 10 years I worried needlessly. The engine outlasted the body thanks generations of road salt. The engine was indestructible.

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  65. By russ-finley on August 7, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    Invariably those who worry about such insignificant [the health impacts of car exhaust] risk will proclaim also the benefits smoking rope.

    …riiight, Nixon created the EPA to deal with insignificant risk.

    The risk of transportation is not pollution but getting run done by a dope head who is texting his drug dealer. Unless you are driving your jacked up 4wd 80 mph.

    …the question is, what are you smoking/drinking?

     

     

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  66. By John Q. Galt on August 7, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    $4000 / $255 X 15.7 Yrs. or 6.4%

    Yes, let’s solve problems by having moar sheeple extend their debt NOW for a zero yield investment that never actually ever pays back.

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  67. By Kit P on August 7, 2011 at 10:44 pm

    “riiight, Nixon created the EPA to deal with insignificant risk. ”

     

    How old are you Russ? I suspect you had not been born yet. Yes, there was a time when air pollution was a significant risk. I will be happy to tell you how bad it was. Some how most of us survived. If the worse thing that ever happens to you is that you smell a diesel not operating to specs, my generation has done a very good job of making your life better. You are welcome.

     

    “Hydro provides power all year long. Nobody ever claimed that its magnitude is constant, but keep the strawmen coming, you make a wonderful foil for the other readers. ”

     

    No Russ, you keep claiming the the electricity for your BEV comes from hydroelectric, it comes from fossil. Look at the brown curve. That what is supplying your BEV. Unless the thermal power plants are only from Columbia Generating Stations or Columbia Ridge Landfill, it is coming from fossil fuel.

    http://transmission.bpa.gov/Bu…..altwg.aspx

     

     

    “served my family long and well, on logging roads to my forest property, to haul tools and materials in a trailer as part of my business, and many a car camping trip. Wonderful workhorse. ”

     

    Russ which is it Russ, you are the paragon of the ‘green lifestyle’ or you are just a little better because your SUV is smaller than a Hummer?

     

    See Russ I do not care what lifestyle you want to adopt but if you want to reduce the impact of how you live maybe you should try to keep an open mind about how to do it.

     

    It was about 1976 that I took my children to show them PNW that I remember has a child. I think it great if you take your take your kids camping and to forested property on dirt roads. Please keep in mind that someone works in a tire factory to your children have the opportunity.

     

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  68. By russ-finley on August 8, 2011 at 12:37 am

    A Toyota Yaris isn’t meant to tow anything.  It is a small, underpowered gasoline car and it makes me laugh to think of you towing a trailer around Seattle.

    Laugh away

    Not as funny looking as I thought it would be.

     

    Why do you hate biofuels so much?

    Define the word “hate” for us.

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  69. By Wendell Mercantile on August 8, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    Missing from the articles about the return of the diesel car in the US, is the possibility of burning dimethyl ether (DME) made from methanol, natural gas, or bio-mass gasifiers, instead of diesel fuel made from petroleum.

    I’m not smart enough to know what happens to emissions when burning DME instead of diesel fuel, but my guess is they go down. Does anyone know for sure?

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  70. By carbonbridge on August 8, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    Wendell Mercantile said:

    I’m not smart enough to know what happens to emissions when burning DME instead of diesel fuel, but my guess is they go down.


     

    Wendell:

    I do not have combustion emissions data concerning DME yet I’d very much expect that its emissions would be far lower than hydrocarbons because this ether, like all ethers, has ONE Oxygen atom within its molecule.  The Oxygen atom doesn’t burn, it does not contribute one BTU of combustion energy – instead, the missing and Magic Oxygen atom ‘fans the flames’ getting all or nearly all of the hydrocarbon components to fully combust.  Just like with alcohols, this Oxygen atom is the missing atom which hydrocarbon petroleum-derived liquid fuels, or gaseous methane, propane, butane or solid ground coal does not feature.

    So I’d expect combustion emission profiles from tanked, pressurized DME to be very favorable in comparison to any liquid or gaseous hydrocarbon product. 

    Personally, I do not have experience in combusting pressurized DME as I’m concerned about carrying any pressurized, liquefied gaseous product in a vehicle traveling the highways and stop + go freeways.  However, I do have some experience in visiting with farmers who previously used to run their pickups on bottled propane.

    DME is much like propane in that it needs to be pressurized to about 125 psi in a bottle and then regulated down to much lower pressures to be fed into an ICE.  DME or Propane would be far safer than CNG (Benny’s favorite) which needs about 3,000 psi of pressures to effectively bottle and store it.  And don’t forget Gov. Arnie’s touted Hydrogen Hallucination which needs 10,000 to 15,000 psi in order carry enough hydrogen in a composite-wound plastic bottle in your trunk.  Very big-time Boom!!!

    My experience with farmers and their pickups combusting propane is that they installed a rather large propane tank across the bed of their pickups, mounted to the front of the box.  They did this because they could purchase propane for ‘off-road’ applications and it didn’t have the normal transportation taxes added to it.  Their complaint was that 3-carbon propane didn’t provide nearly the same engine torque as C5-C10 did when combusting gasoline in the pickup.  Same family of New Mexico farmers had three pickups converted to propane (post Arab Oil Embargo) and they jettisoned this whole propane package with their next pickup purchases and went back to combusting gasoline.

    As DME is a 2-carbon (dimethyl) molecule, it will have even less combustion ‘oomph’ than 3-carbon propane, yet combust very efficientlyl and emit a cleaner emissions profile too.  However, combusting DME in an automobile or pickup which likely will have a 8.5 to 1 piston compression ratio probably will not provide the accelleration torque which the motorist desires plus the extra problem of where to mount that fairly large bottle to contain the pressurized DME…

    I hear lots more talk of using DME in diesels for a good reason.  The average diesel engine in a semi-tractor features at least 16 to 1 compression.  And just like with alcohols – the DME with one Oxygen atom per molecule should perform much, much better in a high compression application – similar to liquid methanol which was combusted neat for 37 years in Indy 500 high-compression race cars.

    The diesel trucks in Europe and Asia using DME typically install several vertical bottles to hold compressed gasses on the backwall of the semi-tractor where there is sufficient room to carry this type of compressed gas and probably is just as safe being bolted-on there as anyplace else on the vehicle.

    -Mark

     

    DME Applications (Wiki)

    The largest use of DME is currently (2010) as substitute for propane in LPG used as fuel in household and industry.[6]  The largest use of DME for this purpose is in China.  DME has two other primary applications: as a propellant in aerosol canisters, and as a precursor to dimethyl sulfate.[3][7]  As an aerosol propellant, DME is useful as a somewhat polar solvent.  It can also be used as a refrigerant.

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  71. By Wendell Mercantile on August 8, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    Thank you Mark.

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  72. By paul-n on August 9, 2011 at 1:54 am

    Mark,

     

    I second Wendell’s thanks for that info.  What I have read on using water and alcohol injection into diesels also suggest that they both imporve the completeness of combusiotn, and, by lowering peak falme temperatures, reduce NOx emissions – I am sure DME would do the same.

    I expect a  mixed alcohol fuel would too!

    On this comment;

    Personally, I’ll never own a diesel.  Don’t care for the chatter, would not breathe the lifetime pollution out the tailpipe, wouldn’t force someone behind me to breathe such deadly fumes.

    I am prepared to bet that the vehicles you are talking about are not the current generation of diesels.  The reasons you state are part of why diesel cars fell out of favour in the first place, but the new passenger diesel are a world apart.  There is no clatter, even on cold startup, and the exhaust is not at all like the old ones.   I did just today drive behind a 1980′s diesel pickup and was nauseated – but while in Sydney last Xmas I drove behind a Mercedes diesel and the only reason I knew it was diesel was because the badge said so.  

    A comment about the propane vehicles – I have owned two of them in Australia.  Both station wagons, and both cases the tank went under the car behind the rear axle, and the spare tire comes inside.  There are also donut shaped tanks to fit into spare tyre wells!  Yes the power is a bit less, but if you don’t know that going into it, then you haven’t done even the most basic research.  

    If power is what you want, add a supercharger, or something.  The purpose of the LPG (propane) conversion is to save money on fuel and if propane is half the price of gasoline, you save about 1/3 on your fuel cost.  It is up to the driver to decide if that tradeoff is worth it.  Currently, in Australia, there are 600,000 vehicle owners, and growing,  out of a national fleet of ten million, that think it is worth it – my family included.  In Australia, gasoline is about $5.70/gal and LPG is about $2.30 – how much is that power really worth?

     

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  73. By paul-n on August 9, 2011 at 2:02 am

    Russ Finley wrote;

    Not sure you have an accurate database there, Paul. It shows a range of 60 to 90 mpg at that speed. Here is the EPA data for three TDI cars:

    We are not comparing the same thing here.  All the curves I am showing are fuel consumption at various speeds, as measured by fuel consumption computers on the vehicles, or in manufacturers tests (the 80-90′s vehicles).  The TDI numbers are an accumulation of what the owners have reported from their trip computers, doing steady state driving at those speeds.  The EPA tests are a different beast.

    While we can debate which is more relevant to real world driving, the key point – that highway driving at slower speeds saves significant amounts of fuel – holds true.

    Whether people would ever accept driving driving at slower speeds, and under what circumstances, is an entirely different question.

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  74. By carbonbridge on August 9, 2011 at 2:35 am

    Paul N said:

    I am prepared to bet that the vehicles you are talking about are not the current generation of diesels.  The reasons you state are part of why diesel cars fell out of favour in the first place, but the new passenger diesel are a world apart.  There is no clatter, even on cold startup, and the exhaust is not at all like the old ones.   I did just today drive behind a 1980′s diesel pickup and was nauseated – but while in Sydney last Xmas I drove behind a Mercedes diesel and the only reason I knew it was diesel was because the badge said so.  


     

    Paul:  My personal comments reflect the ‘nauseating’ variety of diesel engine which you drove today.  Much of my own experience with diesels is not with the new-fangled variety like you drove in Sydney last Christmas.  And it is the stinky ones which I try to dodge a bit in traffic.

    I have found that 5% and 6% volumes of higher mixed alcohol C1-C8 E4™ ENVIROLENE® splashed into C15-C20 diesel (no adjustments whatsoever) have increased diesel mileage from 22% to 24% to 28% and NO black smoke was visible when pedal was to the metal uphill under load. 

    There are simple, easy new manufacturing angles here quite obviously like adding spark ignition to a standard diesel engine at the factory – and having the best high compression engine to combust either gaseous DME or ambient liquid higher mixed alcohols OR heavier hydrocarbon diesel.  We are NOT talking about reinventing any wheels here – maybe just putting some spark plugs and ignition timing back into a powerful engine which doesn’t need it when combusting longer-chained (paraffinic variety) diesel fuel.

    The ranchers I referred to decades ago combusting propane in their pickups did this specifically to save money on transportation fuel like your family chooses to do in Australia. 

    The Arab Oil Embargo began when gasoline was about 36¢ a gallon and after the Embargo – I remember $1.50 to $1.65 prices per gallon.  Farmers felt this 420% fuel price increase too – and most farmers combust far more petroleum distillate volume than city dwellers do.  It was 1977 when the first U.S. farmers re-emerged via s.e. Colorado and chose to experiment with CO-OP variety small corn ethanol or milo to ethanol plants.  1 mgpy or 2 mgpy wasn’t large enough economy of scale to pencil.  Ethanol didn’t start ‘taking a hold’ in the marketplace until batch fermentation EtOH facilities began growing to 35 mgpy sizes.  ADM was already out there producing 400 mgpy. 

    And Wendell just wanted to know if DME combusted cleaner?  Yup.  Yet I don’t have the 3rd party verified stats to quote nor compare.

    -Mark

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  75. By Wendell Mercantile on August 9, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    …the new passenger diesel are a world apart. There is no clatter, even on cold startup, and the exhaust is not at all like the old ones.

    Mark and Paul,

    Our primary car is a Jetta TDI. When people ride with me who don’t already know it’s a diesel, they don’t suspect it’s a diesel until I tell them. It drives like a regular, gasoline-engined car, except I get over 50 mpg at highway speeds, and about 35 mpg in stop and go city traffic. I once drove the 980 miles from where I live to New York City on 19 gallons of fuel (51.6 mpg), and that was driving at or somewhat above the speed limit on the Interstate, using the A/C, and not doing anything special to be economical.

    Once in awhile under hard acceleration there is a puff of black smoke from the exhaust, but that’s about the only clue it’s a diesel.

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  76. By paul-n on August 9, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    Thx Wendell,

    The real world hwy numbers are good – do you know what the official EPA rating for your tdi was?

    I got to drive  a Passat tdi wagon a few years ago, and, being a seasoned stn wagon driver, I could not tell it apart for a gasoline one.

    Another tdi driver I know used to put his (manual) Jetta into neutral going down hills, and let the engine idle, to save fuel.  When he traded in his 12yo, 400,000km car on a new Jetta, it came with the fuel/trip computer, with the instantaneous readout.  

    He then discovered, to his dismay, that, when going down a hill, leaving the car in gear and taking his foot off the pedal altogether, the instantaneous fuel consumption went to zero, while idling it was still using 1L/100km!  

    Aside from the safety implications of coasting in neutral, it had been costing him (miniscule) amounts of fuel all those years!

     

    I have often wondered what would happen if a tdi engine and driveline was retrofitted into a Prius body, to take advantage of the highly aerodynamic body, low rolling resistance tires. etc etc.  I suspect the hwy mileage would be probably 20% higher than the gasoline prius.

     

     

     

     

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  77. By Wendell Mercantile on August 9, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    I have often wondered what would happen if a tdi engine and driveline was retrofitted into a Prius body, to take advantage of the highly aerodynamic body, low rolling resistance tires. etc etc. I suspect the hwy mileage would be probably 20% higher than the gasoline Prius.

    Three or four years ago GM’s Opel division built a prototype of a diesel-hybrid. Mileage was reported to be ~75 mpg. No idea why GM didn’t press ahead, other than they were in great financial distress at the time. Something like that could be the answer to the 2025 CAFE targets in the U.S.

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  78. By paul-n on August 9, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    I think GM decided to focus on the Volt – the jury is still out on whether the Volt was a good decision or not, but the signs are not looking good. 

     

    There is one application where a diesel hybrid drivetrain would be well worth the trouble – pickup trucks and SUV’s.  There would probably be a a doubling of current mileage ratings – which would meet the CAFE rules right away.  And, unlike the small cars, the retail prices, and gasoline fuel consumption,  on these vehicles are both high enough that an extra $5k for a diesel hybrid would not be a huge addition, and the payback on fuel savings would be very good. 

    There was a time, about in 04 or 05, I think, when Bob Lutz of GM said that “hybrid drivetrains did not make sense when fuel was $1.50/gal”

    I hope they revisit both aspects of that statement.

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  79. By Kit P on August 10, 2011 at 8:55 am

    “that highway driving at slower speeds saves significant amounts of fuel – holds true. ”

     

    It is also a lot safer assuming that you are not going dangerously slow. Jimmy Carter set the national speed limit at 55 mph to save energy. The problem was almost nobody drove 55 mph. Now if the limit is 75 mph and you set your cruise at 76 mph, you will pass a few and a few will pass you

     

    Diesel fuel is also the safest fuel. While it may smell bad if you get on your hand, it will not be absorbed through the skin and cause you to go blind.

     

    “I once drove the 980 miles from where I live to New York City on 19 gallons ”

     

    Wendell how is that different than the people who drive a big SUV to fell safer and uses 19 gallons?

     

    The point here is that we have the freedom to make choices.

     

    “Another tdi driver I know used to put his (manual) Jetta into neutral going down hills, and let the engine idle, to save fuel.  When he traded in his 12yo, 400,000km car on a new Jetta, it came with the fuel/trip computer, with the instantaneous readout.   ”

     

    When it comes to efficiency, most people are penny wise and pound foolish. Often they do really dangerous things which may or may not save energy.

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  80. By Wendell Mercantile on August 10, 2011 at 9:41 am

    Wendell how is that different than the people who drive a big SUV to fell safer and uses 19 gallons?

    The difference is they would go only about 280 miles on 19 gallons, or would burn well over 60 gallons to go the same distance I went, and I didn’t feel at all unsafe driving my Jetta TDI.

    Yes, we have the freedom to make choices, even if when dumb choices. That’s clear everyday when I see a 120 lb woman driving a 6,000 lb SUV to work. That means the actual payload is less than 2% of the entire weight being moved. In my opinion, not a smart use of energy.

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  81. By paul-n on August 10, 2011 at 10:58 am

    That’s clear everyday when I see a 120 lb woman driving a 6,000 lb SUV to work. That means the actual payload is less than 2% of the entire weight being moved.

     

    Wendell, are you saying that woman needs to put on some weight?  If she became 180 lbs, then the “payload-miles per gallon” would increase by 50% – though that doesn’t really sound like a healthy idea.

     

    Kit is right, people have the freedom to choose.  The problem, when it comes to oil usage, is that people are disconnected from the collective consequences of their decisions.  Each decision to buy a large, low mileage vehicle, just because they can, costs dearly in terms of oil.  The 15mpg SUV instead of a 30mpg station wagon, will cost about 350 barrels of oil over the life of that vehicle.  At $100/bbl, this extra cost is actually more than the vehicle itself.

    Given that the average mileage is half of US light vehicles is half what it could be, these decisions, collectively, cost 4.5m barrels/day of oil.  That is, half of the oil imports of 9mbd are going to support the collective decisions to drive large, low mileage vehicles.

    Other countries “influence” that freedom with fuel taxes, and registration taxes based on engine size/fuel consumption.  It does not get them out of the oil game, but it does make more people make decisions about what they drive, and how much they drive – based on trying to use less oil -rather than using more, merely because they have the freedom to do so.  

    Of course, there is nothing inherently wrong with owning a large, low milage vehicle – it is how much it gets driven that becomes the issue.  And one “freedom of choice” that many Americans don’t have is the freedom to not drive.   

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  82. By Kit P on August 10, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    “even if when dumb choices. ”

     

    Do you mean like driving to NYC? In my opinion, not a smart use of energy. If you were going to the Black Hills or Yellowstone, that would be different.

     

    “Other countries “influence” that freedom with …”

     

    A liberal euphemism for limiting the freedom of the ‘lower classes’ because they must be protected. It would bot be so aggravating but folks like Paul and Wendell sooner or later start talking about travels or other freedoms they enjoy while totally forgetting their roots.

     

    “And one “freedom of choice” that many Americans don’t have is the freedom to not drive. ”

     

    That is just silly Paul. American love their cars and hate public transportation and walking. Millions live in places like NYC and SF but try to find a place to park.

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  83. By Wendell Mercantile on August 10, 2011 at 11:54 pm

    Do you mean like driving to NYC? In my opinion, not a smart use of energy. If you were going to the Black Hills or Yellowstone, that would be different.

    Kit P.

    Had to go to NYC on business — wasn’t a matter of choice. When I lived in Wyoming we used to regularly go camping in the Black Hills, Yellowstone the Grand Tetons, and the Wind River range. That was by choice, and certainly my preference over NYC. (Although everyone should go to NYC at least once — just for the experience. There is a little pizza joint under the east pier of the Brooklyn Bridge that has probably the best pizza in the U.S.)

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  84. By savro on August 11, 2011 at 12:23 am

    Kit P said:

    Do you mean like driving to NYC? In my opinion, not a smart use of energy. If you were going to the Black Hills or Yellowstone, that would be different.


     

    … says the guy who abhors “liberals that want to limit freedom”.

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  85. By paul-n on August 11, 2011 at 1:50 am

    A liberal euphemism for limiting the freedom of the ‘lower classes’ because they must be protected.

    Well, the fuel taxes and vehicle size taxes do not limit anyone – if you don’t want to pay them, don’t own a car or own a small one.  It is the “upper classes” that generally own the most and biggest vehicles.  

    In the UK, the road registration taxes are actually based on CO2/km ratings – regardless of fuel type.  Less than 100g/km and the road tax is ZERO, and then increases steadily to the  max category of >255 g/km and the road tax is f450/yr.  So if you are buying the 6LV12 Bentley, you are paying for it. if you are buying a Ford Fiesta diesel, or Mini Cooper diesel, you pay zero (gasoline versions of these cars would pay f30-115 per year.  So I don’t think the “lower classes” are getting a raw deal there.   

    With the comparitive fuel consumption being 5x greater for the Bentley (and 3-4x greater for SUV’s, etc) and the “upper classes” that own them are paying 3-5x as much fuel tax – a greater ration than the highest to lowest marginal income tax rates.  

    Everyone hates road and fuel taxes equally, but the upper class persons certainly pay much more of them.

    Americans love their cars and hate public transportation and walking. Millions live in places like NYC and SF but try to find a place to park.

    Quite true, and the collective result of those decisions over the decades is that now for many cities there is little or no effective transit, or at least not to their places of work, like many of the suburban office parks and so on.  

    So for many people, their freedom of choice has become quite limited – if you have  a job, and want to keep working there, chances are you have to drive to get there.  And if you can’t afford to live close, and many can;t, then you have quite a daily drive ahead of you – whether you are liberal or not.   

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  86. By Wendell Mercantile on August 11, 2011 at 9:49 am

    …if you are buying a Ford Fiesta diesel, or Mini Cooper diesel,

    Wouldn’t it be nice if we could buy a Fiesta or Mini Cooper diesel in the U.S.?

    So for many people, their freedom of choice has become quite limited – if you have a job, and want to keep working there, chances are you have to drive to get there.

    True, although there is no compelling reason for a 120 lb woman or a 190 lb man to be driving a 6,000 lb SUV to do that. Better if they were in a Fiesta or Mini diesel getting 60+ mpg.

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  87. By paul-n on August 12, 2011 at 1:51 am

    Wouldn’t it be nice if we could buy a Fiesta or Mini Cooper diesel in the U.S.?

    Yes, it would.  I know Mini salesman In Calgary who had occasion to be in England, and drove a Cooper D there, and said that while it only used 1/2 -2/3 the fuel of the Cooper S, it was more fun to drive – and it’s pretty hard to beat the Cooper S.

    Stats on the Mini Cooper SD, with a 1.6L turbo diesel;

     

    • Power: 143 hp (105 kW) @ 4,000 rpm
    • Acceleration (0-62 mph): 8.1 s
    • Top speed: 134 mph
    • Fuel consumption (combined): 55 mpg (US gal), 62 mpg hwy
    • CO2 emissions: 114 g/km
    • Max. torque/revs: 230 ft-lbs @ 1,750-2,700 rpm

    That is the same torque as my Ford Ranger!

    And with the current price of diesel in the UK being the equivalent of US$ 8.58/gal, (and $8.00 for gasoline) it is no wonder they have so many of these small, highly fuel efficient vehicles! 

     

     

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  88. By Wendell Mercantile on August 12, 2011 at 9:30 am

    Fuel consumption (combined): 55 mpg (US gal), 62 mpg hwy

    That would immediately be in compliance with the new CAFE targets for 2025. I wish President Obama would give Lisa Jackson at the EPA some new marching orders so she would back off a bit on diesel emission standards.

    Any reasonable person would have to think that burning one gallon of diesel to go 60 miles is better than burning two gallons of gasoline to go the same distance.

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  89. By paul-n on August 12, 2011 at 10:38 am

    I have often wondered if the excessively exuberant emission standards (for passenger vehicles) are not the result of lobbying by the Detroit three, in an effort to keep out the Euro diesels.

     

    The really silly part is that emissions are in g of NOx per hp-hr, instead of in grams per mile.  For passenger vehicles, it is emissions per mile driven that counts.  Even if the 62 mpg Mini has double the NOx of the F-350, its fuel consumption is one quarter, so the emissions per mile is halved.  

    Vehicle miles travelled is what is tracked, nobody tracks horsepower-hours produced, so the emissions standards shouldn’t either.

     

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  90. By Wendell Mercantile on August 12, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    I have often wondered if the excessively exuberant emission standards (for passenger vehicles) are not the result of lobbying by the Detroit three, in an effort to keep out the Euro diesels.

    Paul N.

    I think there is much truth in what you say, but the UAW has also played a role in keeping out Euro cars. The reasons for the different safety standards between U.S. and Euro cars is largely a result of UAW lobbying.

    One would think a German car that is safe on an Autobahn at 140 mph would also be safe on U.S. roads, but it’s not considered so; at least not until goes through expensive modification and certification steps — steps largely implemented to deter European-built cars from the U.S. market.

    There is no reason a car considered safe on a European road should not be allowed in the U.S. without expensive modification and certification, and vice versa.

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  91. By russ-finley on August 13, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    I have often wondered what would happen if a tdi engine and driveline was retrofitted into a Prius body, to take advantage of the highly aerodynamic body, low rolling resistance tires. etc etc. I suspect the hwy mileage would be probably 20% higher than the gasoline prius.

    I would think that somebody would already have done that if it were so easy. When you drive a Prius on the highway you notice that the car is continually using the battery and electric motor to add power and recharge on slight grade changes.

    We averaged 40 mpg at highway speeds over 300 miles with this carrier on top of a Prius . So, there’s more to it than just aerodynamic drag.

     

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  92. By paul-n on August 16, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    Russ,

    I don’t think it would be very easy to do such a retrofit into a Prius – you would have to change the complete driveline, all the instrumentation etc etc.  But, I do still think it would be an interesting project – great one for a university mech eng team or something like that.

    No doubt the hybrid system helps with the gasoline engines efficiency, even in hwy driving – the diesel engine, by it’s nature, is not as inefficient under mild load fluctuations, so there may not be much benefit lost by the absence of the hybrid system.  There is also a clever “micro-hybrid” system that BMW is working ion, where the alternator is fitted with a clutch, similar to the a/c compressor, so that alternator (and the a/c) engages during braking, and disconnects during acceleration.  There is a surprising amount of load levelling, especially in smaller cars. by doing this.

    If you took out the entire Prius driveline, the weight savings would enable you to get away with a smaller diesel, like a 1.6 or maybe even 1.3L(turbo) – if the objective is to meet only the Prius standards for acceleration etc – a 2L tdi engine would exceed that by quite some margin.

     

    I guess what I am really getting at is that the Prius is a good demonstration of what can be had by making the car itself highly efficient, regardless of the driveline.  And there has not been nearly enough attention to that, especially by the Detroit carmakers, in my opinion.

    The Prius, and the Leaf, show what can be done by careful attention to such details – it is time to apply this to all vehicles.

     

     

     

     

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  93. By Wendell Mercantile on January 5, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    The real benefit of comon rail has been to make the performance of the engine more like a petrol engine…

    Paul,

    Correct, although the better mileage is not unimportant. (And yes, I realize there are more Btus in a gallon of diesel. Th increased mileage comes from the extra Btus and the higher Carnot efficiency of a diesel.) ) When we bought our Jetta TDI, we paid a premium of ~ $1500 more than gasoline engine would have cost. I consider that money well spent.

    The perframce is better than a comparable 4-cylinder engine — impressive torque in fact at low-speed when the turbo-charger kicks in.  When I carry people who don’t know it’s diesel, they don’t know until I tell them. 

    I’d like the same TDI engie in my compact pick-up truck — but GM and Ford could never crasp that.

     

     

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  94. By paul-n on January 5, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    There is no question that these new engines are very (and often unneccessarily) complex, but that doesn;t excuse the incompetency of that dealership.  And, that sort of thing has been know to happen to the old style engines too.

     

    The real benefit of comon rail has been to make the performance of the engine more like a petrol engine, and also in reducing the dreaded black smoke.  Most diesel car owners are willing to have the extra complexity in return for this, as long as the complexity is reliable!

     

    With diesels, it is well known that repairs are more expensive, but required less often.  I think the mfrs can/will address this with prepaid service plans, to average out those costs.

     

    Of course, such plans will probably eclipse the fuel cost savings of the diesel in the first place…..

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  95. By Davey of Cornwall on January 5, 2012 at 10:23 am

    One problem with the newer vehicles is that they are complex. A tremendously high percentage use timing belts and when the complexity of common-rail fuelling is added the repair bills can become very high. I know someone who got stung for £3500 (about $5000) because of an intermittent fault on a VW/Audi type van. Unfortunately he went to a Main Dealer instead of asking my advice. The dealer replaced the injectors (no effect), camshaft (no effect), cylinder head (no effect) and turbo. On the way home the “check engine” light came on and the vehicle went into limp-home mode again! From trawling the web and reading magazines it appears that with that model one ought to change the injector wiring and the wiring cradle every 30,000 miles as engine vibration cracks the wires. Why didn’t the Main Dealer know that? There is a lot to be said for engines that drive their camshaft with gears or chains and fuelling by means of a “jerk pump” is still the most reliable method. OK the Common Rail designs are slightly faster and more economical but when they go wrong one needs a very fat wallet.

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  96. By paul-n on January 6, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    You mean like this diesel pickup?

    VW Amarok Wins International Truck of the Year Award

     

     

    Introduced in 2009, the Argentina-built Amarok proved its off-road capability by landing a role as the key support vehicle in the challenging 2010 Dakar Rally. Powered by a turbo-diesel 2.0-liter engine, the Amarok can be equipped with two-, four- or all-wheel drive. Buyers can choose from a single or double cab, along with three trim levels

    And the real reason we can’t buy these is…

    Because of the so-called U.S. “chicken tax,” which slaps a 25 percent tariff on trucks built and imported from most countries outside the U.S.,

    And that tax has been in place for four decades now.  The US style gasoline engined large PU truck is a relic from the 60′s that only still exists becasue of this tax. It is, effectively, a tax on fuel efficiency – just what the US doesn;t need.

    Since removal of this would constitute a “tax cut”, Obama should champion it, as even the R’s couldn’t argue against that.

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  97. By Wendell Mercantile on January 6, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    You mean like this diesel pickup? VW Amarok Wins International Truck of the Year Award

    Paul,

    Yes, exactly. Laugh

     It would be great to see VW start making this for the North American market in their new Chtanooga assembly plant.  It would go great with my Jetta TDI.

    I doubt that Ford or GM will step up to the plate and satrt making compact diesel trucks such as this. In fact, Ford just stoped production of the compact Ranger in the Saint Paul, MN assamply and will close the plant.  If only Ford had had the wisdom and ability to make simething like the Amarok to replace Ranger.   

     

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  98. By paul-n on January 7, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    I doubt that Ford or GM will step up to the plate and satrt making compact diesel trucks such as this.

    Actually, they already do, just overseas.

     

    Have a look at the Australian version of the Ford “Ranger” – available in all the normal configurations, with either 2.5L petrol engines, or 2.2 or 3.2L diesels.

     

    This is the  same platfrom as the Mazda truck, and I think they are built in Japan.

    If it werte not for the Chicken tax, it would be worth Ford’s while to bring in the left hand drive version of this – which they already make for Euro LH drive markets like France;

     

    Yoiu have to keep in mind that all the American car makers make two types of cars – those for the (shrinking) N. American market, and those for the (growing) world market.

    How much more profitable would Ford and GM be if they could bring in these vehicles that they have already designed, engineered, built, debugged, re-enigineered and now mass producing elsewhere?

    Just so you know it *can* be done – Ford brings in the Transit Connect van – built in Turkey.  To get around the Chicken tax, they bring it is as a passenger van with all the seating, when it gets here they pull out and shred(!) the seats, and set it up as a commercial van.  More wastage of time and resources to get around an archaic tax.  From the Wiki page on the transit connect van;

    To circumvent the 25% tariff on imported light trucks, Ford imports all Transit Connects as passenger vehicles with rear windows, rear seats and rear seatbelts.[9] The vehicles are exported from Turkey on cargo ships owned by Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics, arrive in Baltimore, and are converted into commercial vehicles at WWL Vehicle Services Americas Inc. facility: rear windows are replaced with metal panels and rear seats removed (except on wagons).[9] The removed parts are then recycled.[9] The process exploits a loophole in the customs definition of a commercial vehicle. As cargo does not need seats with seat belts or rear windows, presence of those items exempts the vehicle fromcommercial vehicle status. The conversion process costs Ford hundreds of dollars per van, but saves thousands over having to pay the chicken tax.[9] Partly because of this, only the long-wheelbase, high roof configuration is exported to North America

    All of this, is of course, driven by the UAW to protect their jobs, but as your example of the (historic) Highland Park plant shows, this strategy is not working.  There will stiill be jobs building F-150′s and larger PU’s, as there are no equivalents made elsewhere in the world.  But think of how many small contractors, farmers, fleet operators, field workers etc would benefit from the availability of economical mid sized diesel  PU’s.

    It is this sort of backwards thinking – to protect legacy jobs like the UAW – that is actually hindering American competitiveness, and preventing meaningful reductions in oil usage.

     

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  99. By Wendell Mercantile on January 8, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    Just so you know it *can* be done – Ford brings in the Transit Connect van – built in Turkey.

    Paul.

    I’ve seen a handful of Transit Conmects around here.  Our local Red Cross HQ has a fleet of diesel Mercedes Sprinters (x 12) and gasoline-poweed Ford Connects (x 6) to do statewide blood drives and respond to emergencies.  Both the Sprinter and Connect appear to be solid trucks for that purpose.  I’ve also seen other companies with MB Sprinters in their fleets.  Not sure how Ford and GM fanned  on that market niche. Has to make you wonder.

    I’ve heard Ford intends the Traverse Connect as a replacment for the Ranger pickup, and there may be  pickup version, although not a diesel.  Too bad they couldn’t have used the Saint Baul assembly plant for the NA market. No doubt the UAW was an adverse factor in Ford’s decision.

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  100. By Jason on April 8, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    Fuel economy, relative durability and low end torque, they all sound like good reasons to allow diesel to be produced here in the USA. Are they perfect? Of course not! What engine is? You’re going to have pollution in the air either way, no matter what engine is used. If the diesel engine were developed and built here in the USA, we’d also be keeping jobs here, instead of sending our jobs to other countries. Also, we, the customers, should be allowed to decide whether diesel engines are for us, not the US govt. While I can understand and appreciate the wish to breathe healthy air, I don’t like Govt. telling us what kind of engines we can and cannot have in our cars. If full-sized trucks, buses, dump trucks can have diesel engines, why the hell can’t we have diesel engines available for compact trucks, SUVs and cars?

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  101. By Jason Carpp on July 22, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    I’d love to see a Transit Connect with a diesel engine.

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