Where are all the turbo diesels?


#1

Ok, so gas prices are super high and climbing. Gasoline engines seem to be pretty limited in their gas mileage potential. Everyone knows that it is possible to make extremely high gas mileage small turbo diesel engines. For instance the prototype Jeep Renegade, which has a 1.5 liter turbo diesel hybrid and is capable of 110 mpg. Why aren’t auto makers producing these types of turbo diesel hybrids? Whats the deal?


#2

I assume you’re talking about in the U.S., because diesels are all over the place in Europe.

  1. Pollution standards
  2. Bad reputation
  3. Diesel fuel costs more

None of these are really good reasons, but they are the reasons. People in the U.S. equate diesel engines with big semis and dump trucks, meaning noisy, smelly, and dirty. And despite the fact that most of the smaller diesel cars would cost less per mile than gas counterparts, the simple fact that diesel fuel is more expensive per gallon will turn people off to it.

I wish there were more of them around, myself.


#3
Well I have one, a 2002 VW NB.

The reason is simple.  The rest of the civilized world has had clean diesel fuel for years and have clean efficient powerful diesels for years.  In the US the trucking industry along with the oil industry have fought for years to prevent clean diesel fuel in the US.  Today we have it, and the EPA has new regulations to go along with it.  However it takes a little time to get a car certified to meet our regulations.  Our regulations are not the same as Europe.  I would guess it is related to different needs and maybe pressure from the auto industry to reduce competition.  

In any case the new clean automotive diesels are starting to come in. VW has a Jetta model coming in. I have heard the first few have arrived, but I am not sure yet. They will be in short supply this year and I would guess it will be next summer before supply meets demand.


#4

Mr. Meehan explained it very well. I will add that it will take at least another year before US refiners are producing enough of the low-sulphur diesel fuel that is necessary for fueling the new Blue Tech diesels. Since European refiners are way ahead of us in production of this cleaner diesel fuel, European consumers have been able to drive Blue Tech diesel vehicles for about a year now.

The Blue Tech diesels run very cleanly, and are almost comparable to current gasoline engines in terms of pollutants emitted. They are also quite powerful, much quieter than older diesels, and do not smell like an old bus.

Reports from Europe talk about Blue Tech Diesel Accords and Outbacks regularly achieving 50+ mpg, however I am very skeptical about your claim of 110 mpg for a Jeep Renegade. Where did you get that information from?


#5

There is plenty of ULSD currently available in the U.S., I use it every day. I agree that 100+mpg is not realistic for a production hybrid diesel. It will eventually come down to cost per mile (just like hybrids), as the cost of fuel gets higher these options will be more attractive.


#6

Renault launched a program to build the ultimate mileage diesel car. They put a small diesel in one of their small cars and achieved 100 mpg highway across Europe. This car had no A/C, 6 speed manual, electric power steering, etc. This is perhaps where the futitious 100 mpg Jeep rumour came from. A diesel hybrid could achieve 100 mpg in the right chassis.


#7

You will stat seeing more in 2008 and forward, once they are certified to meet emissions standards and the manufacturers can tool up for them. BTW, do you think that $4.50/gallon is a lot? Just wait until there are a lot of diesel cars on the road.


#8

Personally, I think both gasoline and diesel will be in the $5 range before too long.


#9

And diesel will get there first. Maybe by the end of June - or middle.

I should have looked first. Diesel is well of $5 in LA.


#10

Probably true, the relative cost of diesel and gasoline have been in flux for years. Over the long term diesel usually ends up someplace between the cost of regular and premium gasoline, I expect it will end up there again at some point when the current prices settle out. Until the next time.


#11

Growing up, diesel was always less $ than regular. When I left Wyoming in '92, Gas was .99/gal and diesel was .89/gal… ah, good times!


#12

Yup, but that was a while ago. Diesel has cost at least as much as regular for at least the last 5 years in most of the country.


#13

Probably true, the relative cost of diesel and gasoline have been in flux for years. Over the long term diesel usually ends up someplace between the cost of regular and premium gasoline, I expect it will end up there again at some point when the current prices settle out. Until the next time.

Craig is correct. Every time the gas prices are influx…diesel rises fast and for a while is more expensive then regular. I remember a post a year or two ago…someone was saying how expensive Diesel was…and I posted back that right outside my window Diesel was selling about 10 cents LESS then regular.

The low emissions diesels running the low sulfur fuel are in Europe right now.


#14

Well if you’re torn between a Prius and a TDI, this makes for interesting reading : http://www.edmunds.com/advice/fueleconomy/articles/126370/article.html