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Clean Diesel VS Hybrids

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I've been a loyal VW customer for my last few new cars..... moved up from Jetta (because I thought it was kind of a "girly" car).. to the Toureg SUV. Now I want to do my part for the atmosphere and move to more efficient exhaust as well as more MPG's to help my wallet. The new Diesel's from VW are advertising high MPG's and emission standards - approved for the tax break too. I read some independant reports that one can get up to 60 MPG - when one does the math its still worth the increase in Diesel prices over regular gas.


Any thoughts about Diesel VS Hybrids?

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My first car was a Diesel Rabbit (~1982). I drove it until

"My baby blue bunny got it's buns bashed on the bay bridge".


(totalled in a multi car accident. I stopped in time, but the truck behind me didn't)


My next car was a Corolla with a diesel engine, which I drove for 93,000 miles until the timing belt slipped (which I had have replaced at 60,000) and the valves coming down met the piston coming up.


$2,000 repair, which AAA paid for, took almost 2 months due to the unavailbility of parts. It did get nearly 40mpg. I sold it immediately thereafter. Ran hot. They never did fix that. (deemed it within acceptible limits)


The next car was a mazda 626 , which I drove until 102,000 miles (and got ~31mpg, the way I drove it).


I have not read up on the new technology. In the past, because they run hotter than gas engines, diesels have tended produce both more N02 and particulate matter, but it's possible that they've improved the filtering methods.


So, my hesitation would be over the availability of replacement parts.


Which is better for you might depend on the kind of driving you do,

I don't think diesels are as efficient when they are cold, so if you drive a lot of long distances at highway speeds, it's likely better.


Just as a pedantic (and not necessarily totally appropriate) observation, there are such things as Diesel Hybrid engines -- but they are used by trains. Haven't heard of any in consumer automobiles yet.

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Anton's unit conversions are close enough for estimation; but I did a lookup which said that 1 liter is 0.2641721 gallons, (3.785 liters/gallon) and 1 kilometer is .6213712 mile (1.609... kilometers/mile).


Using those figures, Anton's calculation comes out to 63.5 mpg which is pretty darn close to what Ford claimed.

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Wondering why Ford can't translate its European success with fuel efficient cars to the U.S., I ran across this article.




GREEN BIZ September 4, 2008, 5:00PM EST



The 65 mpg Ford the U.S. Can't Have


Ford's Fiesta ECOnetic gets an astonishing 65 mpg, but the carmaker can't afford to sell it in the U.S.




The ECOnetic will go on sale in Europe in November



by David Kiley


If ever there was a car made for the times, this would seem to be it: a sporty subcompact that seats five, offers a navigation system, and gets a whopping 65 miles to the gallon. Oh yes, and the car is made by Ford Motor (F), known widely for lumbering gas hogs.


Ford's 2009 Fiesta ECOnetic goes on sale in November. But here's the catch: Despite the car's potential to transform Ford's image and help it compete with Toyota Motor and Honda Motor (HMC) in its home market, the company will sell the little fuel sipper only in Europe. "We know it's an awesome vehicle," says Ford America President Mark Fields. "But there are business reasons why we can't sell it in the U.S." The main one: The Fiesta ECOnetic runs on diesel.


Automakers such as Volkswagen (VLKAY) and Mercedes-Benz (DAI) have predicted for years that a technology called "clean diesel" would overcome many Americans' antipathy to a fuel still often thought of as the smelly stuff that powers tractor trailers. Diesel vehicles now hitting the market with pollution-fighting technology are as clean or cleaner than gasoline and at least 30% more fuel-efficient.


Yet while half of all cars sold in Europe last year ran on diesel, the U.S. market remains relatively unfriendly to the fuel. Taxes aimed at commercial trucks mean diesel costs anywhere from 40 cents to $1 more per gallon than gasoline. Add to this the success of the Toyota Prius, and you can see why only 3% of cars in the U.S. use diesel. "Americans see hybrids as the darling," says Global Insight auto analyst Philip Gott, "and diesel as old-tech."


None of this is stopping European and Japanese automakers, which are betting they can jump-start the U.S. market with new diesel models. Mercedes-Benz by next year will have three cars it markets as "BlueTec." Even Nissan (NSANY) and Honda, which long opposed building diesel cars in Europe, plan to introduce them in the U.S. in 2010. But Ford, whose Fiesta ECOnetic compares favorably with European diesels, can't make a business case for bringing the car to the U.S.



First of all, the engines are built in Britain, so labor costs are high. Plus the pound remains stronger than the greenback. At prevailing exchange rates, the Fiesta ECOnetic would sell for about $25,700 in the U.S. By contrast, the Prius typically goes for about $24,000. A $1,300 tax deduction available to buyers of new diesel cars could bring the price of the Fiesta to around $24,400. But Ford doesn't believe it could charge enough to make money on an imported ECOnetic.


Ford plans to make a gas-powered version of the Fiesta in Mexico for the U.S. So why not manufacture diesel engines there, too? Building a plant would cost at least $350 million at a time when Ford has been burning through more than $1 billion a month in cash reserves. Besides, the automaker would have to produce at least 350,000 engines a year to make such a venture profitable. "We just don't think North and South America would buy that many diesel cars," says Fields.


The question, of course, is whether the U.S. ever will embrace diesel fuel and allow automakers to achieve sufficient scale to make money on such vehicles. California certified VW and Mercedes diesel cars earlier this year, after a four-year ban. James N. Hall, of auto researcher 293 Analysts, says that bellwether state and the Northeast remain "hostile to diesel." But the risk to Ford is that the fuel takes off, and the carmaker finds itself playing catch-up—despite having a serious diesel contender in its arsenal.

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