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Diesel Users Getting Little Relief on Prices

Diesel car market could be set to implode.

by on Jan.02, 2015

The Ram 1500 EcoDiesel captured the Green Car Journal's "Green Truck of the Year" award for 2015.

American motorists have a particularly good reason to celebrate the New Year, unleaded regular gasoline averaging barely $2.40 a gallon across the country, according to federal data, as low as the price has been in more than half a decade.

But not everyone is sharing in the good news. The relatively small number of motorists – along with the nation’s truckers — who depend on diesel are paying an average of $3.28 a gallon, according to the most recent survey by the Energy Information Administration. That figure did mark a decline of nearly 60 cents since the beginning of 2014, but was nowhere near the 87-cent plunge in gas prices.

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And there are signs that the widening cost gap is starting to short circuit the nascent comeback of the diesel market. Demand for so-called clean diesels had been growing a significantly faster rate than the overall U.S. automotive recovery through mid-2014, but sales are beginning to slip as lower gas prices offset the higher mileage diesels offer.


New Air Pollution Study Raises Concerns About Diesel

Study confirms air pollution causes lung cancer.

by on Oct.21, 2013

Diesel emissions have been linked to lung cancer, especially in emerging markets where pollution controls are minimal.

Government officials took the unusual step of closing some of the freeways in Beijing earlier this month, the latest in a series of increasingly frantic efforts to reduce the city’s seemingly endemic problems with air pollution so severe many residents now walk around wearing masks to reduce the amount of soot and smoke they breathe in.

They have reason to worry, warns a new study released by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Based in Lyon, France, and the cancer research arm of the World Health Organization, the IARC has formally declared what many medical experts have long suspected: that air pollution causes lung cancer.

The study points an accusing finger at a variety of sources, including the coal-burning power plants of China, the widespread agricultural operations of California – and the diesel cars and trucks found all over the world.

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“The air most people breathe has become polluted with a complicated mixture of cancer-causing substances,” said IARC department chief Kurt Straif told the Associated Press, warning that air pollution is now considered to create a more serious risk of lung cancer than second-hand cigarette smoke. The agency contends more than 220,000 people around the world died in 2010 due to cancers arising from air pollution.


Diesel Soon to Outsell Gasoline, Forecasts ExxonMobil

Growing demand in the U.S. could push it over the top.

by on Mar.12, 2013

The Chevrolet Cruze diesel is one of a wave of new "oil-burners" coming to the U.S. market."

The number of diesel models available in U.S. showrooms is soon to expected to double, according to one trade group, and though many Americans are still skeptical about the energy-dense fuel, the increase in demand could soon lead to diesel surpassing gasoline as the most popular transportation fuel, forecasts energy giant ExxonMobil.

Where demand for gasoline will stay fairly flat in coming decades, predicts a new report, sales of diesel will rapidly grow – much of that increase driven by the commercial vehicle sector.

The study also sees a growing role for hybrid-electric transportation, though even combined with plug-ins and pure battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, ExxonMobile envisions “electrified” vehicles will still account for less than half of the global market by 2040.

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Diesel will surge past gasoline as early as 2020, and continue to gain share for at least another two decades, forecasts the company’s new study, “Outlook for Energy: A View to 2040.” Over the more than a quarter century covered by the report, diesel demand is expected to account for 70% of the growth in all transportation fuels.


A Quarter Century of Mileage Misers

Who Needs Hybrids?

by on Jun.14, 2010

The latest Honda Insight delivers Top 10 mileage, but some of the most fuel-efficient cars of the last quarter century have relied on gas or diesel powertrains, not hybrid power.

Who needs hybrids?  Though gasoline-electric powertrains certainly raise the bar when it comes to fuel efficiency, you don’t always have to go quite so high-tech, as a review of the last quarter-century’s biggest mileage misers will reveal.

More than half the cars on the EPA’s Top 10 list of Rated Fuel Sippers used conventional gasoline technology, rather than hybrid powertrains.

As almost any motorist can tell you, the government mileage rating on your window sticker is only an estimate, calculated under carefully controlled conditions.  “Mileage,” as they say, “may vary,” often by quite a bit when it comes to real-world driving.  And the EPA’s Top 10 Real-World Fuel Sippers reveals that traditional power is even more dominant, accounting for six models on the list.

(Increased fuel Economy will carry a steep price. Click Here for more.)

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The original, 2-seat Honda Insight tops both charts.  The 2000 model-year version, with its 3-cylinder 1-liter hybrid powertrain was rated at 49 mpg City/61 Highway, and a Combined mileage rating of 53.  Tracking real-world driving, the EPA says the 2004 through 2006 version of the aluminum-bodied Honda Insight delivered a user average of 70.4 mpg, compared with a government Combined rating of 52 mpg.


Spied: 2010 Ram Hemi Hybrid

Diesel on-hold, but Dodge has a hybrid truck on tap.

by on Apr.18, 2009

While the Dodge Ram Diesel has been delayed, a Dodge Ram 1500 Hybrid is on the schedule for 2010 -- if Chrysler survives its current financial problems.

While the Dodge Ram Diesel is delayed, a Ram 1500 Hybrid is scheduled for 2010 - if Chrysler survives.

A diesel-powered Dodge Ram 1500 has been delayed, but the hybrid Hemi version is definitely happening for 2010. Our spy photographers caught it running undisguised in public during final testing.

The so-called two-mode hybrid powertrain was co-developed with GM, Mercedes and BMW. It’s the same setup found in the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra gas-electric hybrid pickups.

GM is supplying Chrysler with the advanced two-mode transmissions that will be used. The electrically variable transmission houses two 60kW electric motors that can power the truck on their own up to about 25 mph, depending on driving conditions. As the multi-displacement 5.7-liter pushrod Hemi V-8 gas engine kicks in, the electric motors will seamlessly support it, individually or in tandem, at low and high speeds, helping the engine enter fuel-saving four-cylinder mode sooner and stay in it longer to achieve maximum gas mileage. Regenerative braking is used to capture energy that would normally be lost during braking or deceleration. The energy is stored in the batteries for later use.

Click Here to SubscribeThe GM full-size hybrids can tow up to 6,100 pounds. The Ram is expected to tow about the same amount.

Additional pictures at

Photo Credit: Brian Williams Brenda Priddy & Co.

Diesel Engine Growth in the United States Remains Constrained by Buyer Perceptions

Latest study reaffirms that fuel prices and urea maintenance turn off most potential buyers.

by on Apr.14, 2009

Volkswagen remains committed to selling diesel engines in the U.S. while other makers waffle.

Volkswagen remains committed to selling diesel engines in the U.S. while other makers waffle.

While some consumer attitudes toward diesel engines are becoming more favorable, roughly two-thirds of potential buyers still will not consider the expensive engines for their next vehicle. 

According to the Morpace Powertrain Acceptance & Consumer Engagement (PACE) study, 62% of new vehicle owners feel that diesel powered vehicles have “gotten better” over the past 10 years. And 35% now say they will “consider” clean diesel technology for their next vehicle because of perceptions of improved fuel economy and greater environmental friendliness. Small car owners, not surprisingly, show the least interest in oil burners. Owners of gas-guzzling luxury cars and full-size pickups are most likely to consider “clean” diesel.

Diesels have certainly been popular in Europe where lavish subsidies exist for the fuel or in tax reductions for vehicles that use diesel fuel. They now account for about half of all new motor vehicles sold there each year. In this country, diesels account for well under 5% of the market, though the market research firm, J.D. Power and Associates, perhaps influenced by its European-based clients, says the figure could reach 15% – 20% by the middle of the next decade.

Mercedes-Benz plans to introduce a new Bluetec version of its E350, shortly after the launch of the gasoline-powered 2010 E-Class sedans and coupes, later this year. The E350, which will meet the toughest emissions standards in all 50 states, provides V-8 like performance but V-6 fuel economy. The company is also considering an E250 4-cylinder diesel for the U.S. that would provide V-6 levels of horsepower and torque, but fuel economy estimated at 44 mpg. That would meet or exceed the mileage of the best hybrid models in its mid-size segment, but still offer substantially better performance, according to the automaker, which missed the move to hybrids by its Japanese competitors, notably Lexus.

Audi will launch its first “clean” diesel, the Q7 TDI, later this month for $50,900, officials have announced. The Q7 is expected preview an assortment of new Audi diesel-powered vehicles, despite growing skepticism about the role of the high-efficiency engines in the American marketplace. Audi too missed the hybrid revolution.

“While the perceptions of diesel have changed for the better, consideration of clean diesel vehicles is hampered by the high cost of diesel fuel compared to gasoline,” says Bryan Krulikowski, author of the Morpace study. (more…)

Sneak Peek: 2010 Volkswagen Polo

VW's global small car - finally bound for America.

by on Mar.03, 2009

Polo Blue Motion Concept: "Cleaner than any hybrid on the market"?

Polo Blue Motion Concept: "Cleaner than any hybrid on the market"?

Take the latest Volkswagen Golf, shrink it down a size class and you’ve pretty much come up with the all-new 2010 Volkswagen Polo. No longer a plain-Jane econobox, the Polo debuting at this year’s Geneva Motor Show is decidedly more stylish and better-equipped than VW’s past attempts at entry-level motoring.

Squeezed by buyers wanting more content and regulators who alternately demand better crash protection and improved fuel economy, Volkswagen engineers had a tough challenge ahead when they launched the fifth-generation Polo project. If initial appearances prove accurate, they’ve redeemed themselves well.

Not only is the ’10 Polo better looking and more lavishly outfitted but it’s also expected to meet the tough new European 5-star NCAP crash tests, revealed VW Board Member Ulrich Hachenberg. On a comparably-equipped basis, the new model comes in 7.5 percent lighter than the Gen-4 Polo. And across the board, VW claims significant improvements in mileage. The most frugal, a BlueMotion diesel, is set to lay claim to being the most fuel-efficient 50-door non-hybrid model on the planet, yielding an impressive 62 mpg in the European test cycle.


Sneak Peek: Porsche 911 GT3

Porsche also unleashing 2010 Cayenne Turbo Diesel

by on Feb.27, 2009

2010 Porsche 911 GT3

2010 Porsche 911 GT3

Ok, we admit it up front, has already offered a look at the Porsche 911 GT3, which will debut at the Geneva Motor Show, next week. But how can we resist a few more shots, and a bit more detail.

What’s significant is that we expect the handling of the new GT3 again to be even better than of the outgoing model. When driving the GT3 a while ago, I could not imagine what Porsche engineers could improve. But obviously they still are very inventive.

With twice as much downforce, driving the new GT3 should be the dictionary definition of “on rails.” And for the first time, the sleek Porsche has a sporty tuned PSM, or Porsche Stability Management, system that can be switched on or off in steps.

A fuell efficient Porsche? The Cayenne Turbo-Diesel

A fuel efficient Porsche? The Cayenne Turbo-Diesel

The other Porsche debut in Geneva will be that of the Cayenne Diesel. The SUV now has a V-6 diesel making 240 hp, and it can reach a top speed of 133 mph. The maximum torque of 406 pound-feet is available from 2000 RPM. A six-speed Tiptronic S-transmission is standard. The combination propels the Cayenne from 0-60 mph in just 8 seconds. The PSM stability system and the PTM Porsche Traction Management are also standard.

Meanwhile, with a 26 gallon tank, the Cayenne Diesel is expected to deliver a range of more than 620 miles.

Interest in EVs Gaining Ground

by on Feb.10, 2009

Interest in electric vehicles, like Chevy's Volt, is charging up

Interest in electric vehicles, like Chevy's Volt, is charging up

A new study from Maritz Automotive Research Group suggests consumer interest in new automotive technology is continuing to grow, particularly when it comes to electric vehicles.

Maritz’s Automotive Research Group has been tracking awareness of alternative fuels in its annual New Vehicle Customer Study (NVCS) since 2005, and the data show electric power growing as a primary alternative fuel among the current choices. Approximately 9 percent of consumers, who bought or leased a new vehicle in 2008, judge the electric-powered vehicle as the alternative fuel that was most appealing. As measured by the Maritz survey, the appeal of the electric vehicles has grown from 3.4 percent in 2006, to 6.6 percent in 2007 to 9.4 percent.

Another finding of the survey, which has held up in each of the past three years, was that interest is higher among those who purchased or leased a car rather than a light truck, suggesting a natural market divide could develop as more electric vehicles come on the market.


Shift to Alternative Fuels Continuing

Recession, low gas prices can't halt switch.

by on Feb.06, 2009

Making a better case for alternative fuels

Making a better case for alternative fuels

Recession or not, the auto industry, or at least elements of it, are setting course for a greener future.

Ricardo Inc. of Van Buren, Mi., the American arm of the British engineering firm Ricardo plc, has announced it has developed technology that optimizes ethanol-fueled engines to a level of performance that exceeds gasoline engine efficiency and approaches levels previously reached only by diesel engines.

The technology, called Ethanol Boosted Direct Injection or EBDI, takes full advantage of ethanol’s best properties – higher octane and higher heat of vaporization – to create a truly renewable fuel scenario that is independent of the cost of oil.

“Developing renewable energy applications that can lead to energy independence is a top priority at Ricardo,” said Ricardo President Dean Harlow. “We’ve moved past theoretical discussion and are busy applying renewable energy technology to the real world. The EBDI engine project is a great example because it turns the gasoline-ethanol equation upside down. It has the performance of diesel, at the cost of ethanol, and runs on ethanol, gasoline, or a blend of both.”