Least pollution-spewing car

I can’t believe Tom and Ray overlooked the VW TDI diesels in their advice to Christian about limiting pollution.

The VW TDIs outperform hybrids on the highway in MPG. Diesel is arguably cleaner than gasoline when refining and combustion are taken as a whole. The new ultra low sulphur diesel (ULSD) is better than ever on emissions. And then there’s the option for biodiesel for the extra environmentally conscious.

Diesel is also more economical. It’s sometimes outright cheaper than regular gasoline and often a better deal even when regular is cheaper because diesel has a higher energy content per gallon.

Diesels also likely beat hybrids for longevity too. I know there are some hybrids going over 100k miles, but I really doubt that hybrids will outlast a well-maintained diesel, which should easily run 300k-400k miles. We shouldn’t underestimate the environmental impact of constructing and disposing of multiple hybrids over the lifespan of a single diesel vehicle or the hazardous materials used in hybrids.

I think this was a huge miss. VW TDIs are the best option for those who drive many highway miles.

Don’t get me wrong, I like diesels (I own two), but you really have to define what type of “pollution” you are talking about. Diesels have higher particulate (soot) and NOX (higher combustion temperatures with excess O2) emissions, but generally have lower greenhouse emissions (due to their higher efficiency). The newer diesel engines are addressing the particulate and NOX issues, but they will still be higher than some gas engines. From an economic point of view, diesel are the way to go. From an emissions point of view, you can argue both sides. For whatever reason, the radio show seems anti-diesel.

Gasoline vs. diesel emissions are not an apples to apples comparison. But given that the majority of environmental concerns recently are all about greenhouse gases, diesel is still the clear winner. I don’t have one myself, but if my Camry ever wears out, I’m on the hunt for a VW TDI.

I know a few folks who really like their TDIs, but I’ve never owned one. If you wait a couple of years, you will have plenty of choices.

I happen to own a VW Diesel and I personally like it, but it is not the least polluting car around. It is better than older diesels and the new diesels that may come into North America now that ULSD is now available will reduce the pollution issue quite a bit.

However comparing diesel vs gas pollution is not easy. They are far too different in the mix of pollutants they produce.

I certainly would not suggest that today’s diesel cars are polluting more than today’s gas cars, but I would also not say less. The pollute different.