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Fuel System, Fuel System, Diesel, Hybrid Cars, Fuel Efficiency (MPG)
#1 of 2800 This one had to be done, didn't it? :)
Mar 03, 2003 (4:44 am)
As far as I can see, ULSD and future hybrid offers will hit the US market at roughly the same time. Currently the market is limited for both (Prius, Civic and Insight are the only hybrids currently available, Diesels are mostly trucks territory due to emission laws).
Both ways, the immediate advantage is increased mileages. Hybrid technology still has to prove itself on a large scale (we have to acknowledge for the fact that all three offers come from ultra-reliable Japanese manufacturers). Diesel technology, OTOH, is well proven. Hybrids lead when it comes to emissions, which are a problem for Diesels. Diesels undoubtedly lead on the fun to drive front.
I think it's clear by now that EU has made its choice: Diesel. The tax policy sure helps. Diesel went as far as to equip vehicles traditionally associated with pleasure (example: BMW 330Cd). Manufacturers are no longer afraid to boast about their oil burning engines. From the midsize sedan category and up, the majority of sales on this continent are now Diesels. The only available hybrid here is the Prius and its market share is confidential at best.
What choice will the US make?
Mar 03, 2003 (7:30 am)
Actually, a diesel-electric hybrid might be the most fuel stingy combination, but I wouldn't care for one. Low sulfur or no, diesel is a less "user friendly" fuel than gasoline and in the USA its price is similar to premium. Won't low-S diesel cost even more? And while the speed-torque characteristic of a typical electric motor is complimentary to that of a high output gasoline engine, it is less so for a diesel. And as for "fun to drive", I can't imagine using that phrase in the same sentence as "diesel". A slow turning, high torque, low power engine may be well suited to urban crawling with an automatic transmission and the A/C running, but that situation is anathema to fun.
Mar 03, 2003 (8:35 am)
"And as for "fun to drive", I can't imagine using that phrase in the same sentence as "diesel""
Well, it means that you haven't driven any modern Diesel
Also, consider the UK where Diesel fuel is actually more expensive than gasoline... This doesn't prevent Diesel sales from skyrocketing, even there.
The "hybrid" part is called for more than just an engine band-aid in the future anyway.
#4 of 2800 More diesel cars need clean diesel fuel
Mar 03, 2003 (10:08 am)
I think the biggest reason why we don't see more diesel-powered cars is the fact that American-market diesel fuel has too much sulfur compounds per million--which can damage the modern fuel-delivery and exhaust emission controls found on diesel cars sold in Europe.
Once the EPA mandates low-sulfur diesel fuel (no more than 80 parts per million), then we can apply modern common-rail delivery direct-injection systems and modern catalysts and particulate traps that will allow a diesel-powered car to meet the strict ULEV standard for exhaust emissions. And applying that to minivans, pickup trucks and SUV's could mean we raise the fuel mileage of these larger vehicles as much as 35-40%!
#5 of 2800 What would draw consumer interest?
Mar 03, 2003 (8:37 pm)
Gas-Guzzlers are extremely popular. The average US consumer simply isn't overly concerned about conserving fuel. Buying a diesel would deliver great MPG, but that engine is both noiser and dirtier. Diesel power & reliability is well proven and commonly available, yet large numbers aren't purchased for non-commercial use. There's no real draw. Something needs to be done for diesel to become a preferred choice.
Hybrids deliver something uncommon, an important marketing factor. Prius offers incredibly clean emissions, a remarkably smooth drive (that's dead quiet at times), and an interior that's completely unique... besides delivering great MPG.
#6 of 2800 The saying has it...
Mar 04, 2003 (1:43 am)
that people buy horsepower and drive torque. So they should be very, very pleased about Diesels. MPG is not the only advantage. In gear accelerations of Diesel engines are on par with gas engines one and a half as big. As one publication puts it, "a modern turbodiesel 2.0l engine has the peak power of a 2.0l gas engine, the peak torque of a 3.0l on a larger rpm range and the fuel economy of a 1.4l".
"Dirty" and "Diesel" is now an oxymoron, kind of. Diesel fumes are the exception now. It's been a while since I've seen a Diesel passenger car stink from the back, and remember that I'm surrounded by them. Let alone a "smoking Diesel". These are close to nonexistent now, plain and simple. Even 36-tons trucks.
I was in fact looking into the future. It looks like the next hybrids will hit the market at the same time U(ltra)L(ow)S(ulfur)D(iesel) will be available too. Hence the topic. With Jeep (Liberty), Mercedes (E320 CDI), VW (90 and soon 130+hp TDI) starting to bring up to date Diesels as soon as this year or next year, I think it will be interesting to see what happens.
#7 of 2800 idletask
Mar 04, 2003 (2:47 am)
I hear you. While you get to live it, I just read about it in magazines such as TopGear.
Would really like a diesel as my work car.
#8 of 2800 Low speed torque is great .......................
Mar 04, 2003 (4:14 am)
but if it cannot be sustained to engine speeds where it constitutes significant power, its value to rapid motoring is limited. Such has been the case for all diesels which we have seen in the USA to date. Perhaps there are better diesels in other parts of the world, but today they are irrelevant to the US buyer.
#9 of 2800 By low speed...
Mar 04, 2003 (5:42 am)
You should understand low rpm. But low rpm doesn't necessarily mean low speeds. As an example my 330d runs at a leisurely 1700 rpm at 55 mph. At 75mph the needle shows 2200 rpm. At 100 mph it is only a little above 3000 rpm... with power to spare. Its peak torque (288 lbft) is achieved from 1700 up to 3200 rpm. Fast? Yes, sir. The only thrill which you don't get is revving above 4.5k... I can do without it, thank you very much Especially when I compare what mileage I get vs what a 325i gets... And I don't even talk about the 330i. A different way to drive...
#10 of 2800 daysailer
Mar 04, 2003 (7:52 am)
And as for "fun to drive", I can't imagine using that phrase in the same sentence as "diesel""
but if it cannot be sustained to engine speeds where it constitutes significant power, its value to rapid motoring is limited. Such has been the case for all diesels which we have seen in the USA to date
When is the last time you've driven a VW TDI?
Yes, the Golf, Jetta, and New Beetle TDI can do 120 mph...I guess that's not fast enough.
70-100 mph in 5th gear? Not too much trouble. It suprises some owners (friends) of more sporting cars (350Z, WRX, & G35c) how effortlessly it does this.
IMHO, the 2 things that kills the joy of driving are the laggy drive by wire system and the heavy dual-mass flywheel.
You you said might be true for the old diesels which has been permanently engraved in people's minds, but modern diesel is available in the US.
Due to its power-torque characteristcs and its tall gearing, you can't drive it like a gasser. The best performance really comes from short shifting.