Diesels set for US return, tell Prius to suck it.

Blind_Io

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http://biz.yahoo.com/cnnm/070503/050107_diesels.html?.v=3&.pf=family-home

Diesels set to return to the U.S.
Thursday May 3, 4:37 pm ET
By Peter Valdes-Dapena, CNNMoney.com staff writer

With rising gas prices, diesel cars and SUVs are gearing up for a major American comeback after a brief appearance 25 years ago. But if all you remember are the smell and noise, you might not recognize the new leaner, cleaner versions.

Back in the early 1980's, 80 percent of the cars Mercedes-Benz sold in the U.S. were diesel powered. General Motors sold diesel Oldsmobiles and Cadillacs.

The reason then was obvious: Adjusted for inflation, the cost of gasoline then was about $3.15 a gallon. Buyers were looking for a more fuel-efficient way to drive.

Diesel engines were noisy, they were slow and they puffed out nasty polluting smoke. But they used much less fuel than gasoline engines, so buyers were willing to put up with the downsides.

As gas prices went back down, relative to other costs, and environmental regulations became stricter the tide of diesels rolled back across the Atlantic leaving only memories of clanky, foul smelling diesel cars.

Today, while half the cars sold in Europe are diesels, diesel market share in the U.S. is about 3.5 percent and that's mostly pick-ups, according to R.L. Polk & Co.

With a hungry European market to feed, diesel development has continued, creating turbocharged diesel engines that perform better and pollute less. Today's diesel cars are virtually indistinguishable from their gasoline-burning siblings. Except they use a lot less fuel.

"Anyone who's spent time overseas has seen and driven some very competent diesels," said Charlie Vogelheim, vice president for automotive development at J.D. Power and Associates.

Meanwhile, gas prices have gone back up in the U.S. and new low-sulfur diesel fuel has opened the way for even cleaner-burning diesel engines than the Europeans have. (New exhaust cleaning technologies would have choked on all the sulfur in the old diesel fuel.)

Diesel engines are more efficient than gasoline engines because diesel fuel contains more energy than gasoline. Diesel engines combust the fuel by squeezing air, which is warmed by a "glow plug," to extremely high pressure inside the cylinders. Just as the air is being squeezed to maximum pressure, fuel is injected into the cylinder where it combusts immediately in the hot air. That high-pressure ignition - higher pressure than gasoline could withstand - also results in more power.

These modern diesels have exhaust that, on a mile-to-mile basis, is close to gasoline in terms of smog-forming pollution. Already, because they don't need to burn as much fuel, they emit less carbon dioxide than gasoline engines. Excess CO2 has been blamed for global warming.

Even with the new fuel, scrubbing diesel emissions this clean isn't cheap or easy. That's one reason most car companies are entering the market with diesel-powered SUVs first. Heavier vehicles have easier emissions standards.

"Those are the vehicles that are in greatest need of greater fuel economy," Diesel Technology Forum executive director Allen Schaeffer said of SUVs, offering another reason diesel engines are appearing first in those larger vehicles.

Mercedes-Benz, for example, will soon be selling diesel versions of its M-class, R-class and GL-class SUVs here and will be phasing out the E320 diesel sedan it currently sells here.

The Mercedes SUVs, unlike the cars, will be available for sale in all 50 states. Even the cleanest European diesels now available can't meet emissions standards in five states - California and New York among - that are even stricter than the federal government's.

Chrysler, the American arm of DaimlerChrysler, and Volkswagen already sells "45 state" diesel SUVS. Chrysler sells version of its Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV that uses an engine from German division Mercedes-Benz.

Volkswagen sells a 10-cylinder diesel version of its Touareg SUV here.

Until 2006, VW sold a full line of diesel-powered cars here, including the Golf, Jetta and New Beetle. But those vehicles weren't clean-burning enough to meet stricter emissions standards for cars that were phased in this year.

The diesel Jetta sedan will be back next year, however, in a cleaner running version that will meet emissions standards in all 50 states, VW says.

BMW plans to begin selling one or more vehicles with a 3.0 liter twin turbo diesel engine here by the end of 2008. The BMW diesels will be available in all 50 states and, BMW promises, they will drive just the way people expect a BMW to drive.

Audi is expected sell a diesel version of its Q7 SUV here.

Nissan and Honda will be entering the market with diesel cars. Nissan recently announced it intends to bring a diesel version of its Maxima sedan to the U.S., and Honda says it will sell a diesel four-cylinder car here in a few years. What car, exactly, that will be hasn't been announced.

Korean automaker Hyundai is planning to bring a diesel version of its just-introduced Veracruz SUV to the U.S. in 2009 or 2010.

Neither Ford nor GM has any plans to try again with diesel passenger cars or SUVs for their home market. It wouldn't be cost-effective for them, a Ford spokesman said, because Ford cars available in Europe as diesels aren't sold here. And the market is too small for them to develop U.S.-only diesels.

Market acceptance of diesel passenger vehicles should grow here again, Vogelheim said, as consumers experience the new, cleaner engines.

Diesels performance characteristics should appeal to Americans who like a lot of "off the line" power for quick acceleration, said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum. Diesel engines produce a lot of low-speed torque, the twisting power needed to get the wheels moving, but that power is produced in a rather narrow range of engine speeds.

Almost all modern diesel engines today are turbocharged, which helps to improve performance to something more like what drivers are used to from a gasoline engines.

Whether we start regularly seeing diesels on American roads will probably depend more on the supply of vehicles than demand, said Vogelheim. Once gasoline tops $3.00, there should be plenty of demand, he said.
 

OldSkoolGP

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Diesels rock. American car companies suck for just outright ignoring that there is a demand for fuel efficient vehicles. Even if you could only move 10,000 Focus diesels a year, that would still be enough to justify "development." What development? It's the same flipping car that's sold in the UK! So is the Ranger pickup! It's not that they can't do it. It's that they are either being coerced into not doing it or they don't want to. It's just like how GM killed their electric car, the EV1. They hated the thing from day 1 even though it was brilliant, and then were happy to crush them once California lifted it's Zero Emissions vehicle mandate.

American car companies loathe the idea of doing anything they aren't mandated to do, which is why I'll never buy another American car. VW, BMW, and Merc get it, and I like that. To boot, they also make really cool cars. I love my Jetta. It's sleek, yet understated. And I love all the Euro toys you can get for it, and how I have about 30 different options for factory wheels that actually look good. And when I take it to my local drag strip I get more questions and compliments than someone what shows up with a Corvette or any Japanese sport compact. 225 lb/ft of torque and 50+ MPG. No American car can even get 40 MPG, save a good running Geo, which they don't even make anymore.

But, at the same time, I wouldn't tell the Prius to suck it. Out of the box, they're pretty hopeless, but you can convert them rather easily into full EV vehicles, which makes them good city runabouts. They're useless for highway driving though, even as EVs. I only wish they offered them with diesel engines. The world over uses diesel generators, that's all the petrol engine in a Prius is. Why not make it a diesel and get 100 MPG? I don't get it, but I'm looking forward to the Tiguan TDI when it comes out. And if I ever need a tow car, V10 Touareg FTW!:mrgreen:
 

thedguy

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What development? It's the same flipping car that's sold in the UK!
used to be. Europe has a much newer and nicer model. But they still had diesel versions of the Focus we get.

I only wish they offered the Prius with diesel engines.
They should have offered it with a diesel generator, and only used electric motors to drive the wheels. It's far more efficient.

No American car can even get 40 MPG, save a good running Geo, which they don't even make anymore.
The Geo metro is a slightly rebodied Suzuki swift. :p

If the American companies want to ignore this market, so be it, it'll just hurt them more if/when the Euro and Japanese diesels do well and will only lead to even more people moving away from American brands when they see the superior quality in those cars as it did with the Japanese in the 70's and 80's.
 

IVIaster

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What are these 5 states restriction with seems to be so diffucult to overcome? Are they pointless as Obi Wan Clarkson said?
 

Steve Levin

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THe real issue with the "5 states" is not as much now as in 2010 and beyond. Those requirements for future years are already mapped out, and except for the "Bluetec" type of exhaust injected technology, it's going to be very, very difficult for diesels to meet the future restrictions.

So to some extent it's been a "why invest a lot to get Americans to buy diesels again when we will get choked off in 4 years" issue.

There are ways around it, as I mentioned, but like with the Bluetec stuff...the question is: what happens to the car when it runs out of the "injector" and starts emitting higher emissions? Shutting off the cars themselves is viewed as impractical (much like the reason we don't require seatbelts to be fastened before allowing the car to drive), and nothing else so far has passed the environmental lobby's approval (such as the continuous chime seatbelts generate).

Steve
 

thedguy

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What are these 5 states restriction with seems to be so diffucult to overcome? Are they pointless as Obi Wan Clarkson said?

I know California's restrictions are mostly with the soot.

So to some extent it's been a "why invest a lot to get Americans to buy diesels again when we will get choked off in 4 years" issue.

There are ways around it, as I mentioned, but like with the Bluetec stuff...the question is: what happens to the car when it runs out of the "injector" and starts emitting higher emissions?
Steve

Well considering it would race emissions, the car would 1: throw an a CEL, 2: you'd most likely fail your next smog check because of both #1 and just high emissions. At least in the state of California.

What are the rule changes in 2010? Are they just going to make the federal rules as strict as California or what? If thats the case, then once they can meet/exceed California's regulations they should be good.

Personally I think they should just concentrate on building Diesel Generator hybrids, a bit like the Chevy Volt. Go with a plug-in style with enough batteries to drive 30-40 miles without running the generator at all.
 
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niccce

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Diesel engines are more efficient than gasoline engines because diesel fuel contains more energy than gasoline.
Mr Einstein gets a cookie.
 

KaJuN

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It wouldn't be cost-effective for them, a Ford spokesman said, because Ford cars available in Europe as diesels aren't sold here. And the market is too small for them to develop U.S.-only diesels.
So they don't want to spend the money to develop an all-new vehicle, and they're unwilling to import cars they already make. Then then have the balls to say there isn't a market for more fuel efficient cars when you can't get gas for less than $3/gallon now. I guess gas money isn't an issue for a Ford spokesman. It's a good thing we all have the same job as him. Oh wait a minute, we don't!
 

Blind_Io

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California, Maine, New York and a couple others have actually banned the sale of new diesel cars. I guess they never took high school chemistry or missed the day when we covered oxidation and combustion. Diesels are not more efficient because of the content of the fuel, but because of the mechanics of the engine. Diesels operate at higher temperatures and pressures which strip more hydrogen molecules from the long carbon strings that make up petroleum. This means you get fewer hydrocarbons in the exhaust (one of the main sources of smog) and you just end up with heat, water and carbon. The problem comes from the impurities like sulfur, which are now being reduced in new diesel fuels. Carbon soot is also less of a problem with the new particulate filters in the exhaust systems. Diesels are more efficient because they break more hydrogen-carbon bonds and thus release more heat per liter of fuel. Every unbroken hydrogen-carbon bond is a wasted energy source and a cause for hydrocarbon-based smog.

Now someone explain this to the legislature out here that is giving incentives to people for buying cars loaded with toxic batteries and banning diesel cars.
 
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thedguy

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Mind posting the source of the info? I've done a couple of google searches and have yet to find anything that actually says the Diesels are banned from California. The closest is that they are highly restricted because of the fear of soot (and it's cancer causing effects).
 

Blind_Io

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Mind posting the source of the info? I've done a couple of google searches and have yet to find anything that actually says the Diesels are banned from California. The closest is that they are highly restricted because of the fear of soot (and it's cancer causing effects).

http://www.solarhouse.com/resources/040116car.pdf

That was just after a quick and dirty Google search. I hope that is enough, when I was looking for a car I tried to find a used TDI or Mercedes but the dealers were shipping all the used ones to California where a 5 year old TDI would sell for the same price as a new one.
 

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http://www.solarhouse.com/resources/040116car.pdf

That was just after a quick and dirty Google search. I hope that is enough, when I was looking for a car I tried to find a used TDI or Mercedes but the dealers were shipping all the used ones to California where a 5 year old TDI would sell for the same price as a new one.

I live in California, and even back in 2003 there were no diesel-powered cars on the VW lot. I too, was looking to buy a Golf TDI but they said they could no longer sell new diesels. I found an article about this too:

Right now, California and New York refuse to register new diesel cars because they don't meet emission regulations. Will that change with the newer generation diesels?

If clean-diesel cars fulfill their requirements, they have to give it a chance. The regulations that take effect in 2009 say diesel has to burn as clean as gasoline. California also has targets for carbon dioxide exhaust emissions -- and there's no better off-the-shelf solution for CO2 reduction than diesel. If Mercedes shows its clean-diesel technology is better at reducing carbon dioxide and they meet the requirements on particulates and nitrogen oxides, how can California ignore it?

http://www.businessweek.com/autos/content/feb2006/bw20060208_589016.htm


No registration = No sale
 
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fluke667

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Diesels are more efficient because they break more hydrogen-carbon bonds and thus release more heat per liter of fuel.

that's not the only thing
diesel is more dense than gasoline (more carbon atoms / liter) so diesel contains more energy/liter in the first place. burning a liter of diesel will produce more CO2 than burning a liter of gasoline. if it comes to CO2 / km a diesel is only slightly more efficient (because it burns fuel better) than a good normal engine
 

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Everytime an American mentions petrol prices i feel pain. Try the equivalent of $7-7.50 per US Gallon over here.
 

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I understand that $7.00 a gallon would suck. But then our cars get crap for mileage. You know the US gov't mandated fuel standards for cars haven't changed since 1979? They're at 25 MPG now. Most of Europe is at 45 MPG. And our gov't doesn't consider pickup trucks to be cars, so they're exempt. It's a bunch of BS in my opinion, I wish we would up our fuel standards. Frankly, I hope our gas prices keep going up, maybe it will finally inspire some changes in this country. Till then I'll just keep making my Biodiesel.:mrgreen:
 

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Well considering it would race emissions, the car would 1: throw an a CEL, 2: you'd most likely fail your next smog check because of both #1 and just high emissions. At least in the state of California.

If new cars had yearly smog checks, then that would certainly help. However, in California, you don't smog cars until they are five years old -- the theory being that statistically the number of cars less than five years old that failed the smog check was extremely low.

I'm not saying there aren't reasonable ways to address this -- they just aren't in place and the greens haven't shown much interest in budging at all from their extremeist positions.

Steve
 

Cobol74

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Emissions test is part of our annual MOT, which you got to have to get an excise duty licence (as well as pay the annual or 6 month duty), which in turn you have to have (and display on your windscreen) to get on the road. Both my diesels are pretty clean machines judging from the exhause smoke - or lack of it.
 

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I understand that $7.00 a gallon would suck. But then our cars get crap for mileage. You know the US gov't mandated fuel standards for cars haven't changed since 1979? They're at 25 MPG now. Most of Europe is at 45 MPG. And our gov't doesn't consider pickup trucks to be cars, so they're exempt. It's a bunch of BS in my opinion, I wish we would up our fuel standards. Frankly, I hope our gas prices keep going up, maybe it will finally inspire some changes in this country. Till then I'll just keep making my Biodiesel.:mrgreen:

That doesn't preclude the general public from buying fuel efficient cars.
 
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