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World's Only Diesel-Electric Honda Insight

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the something-like-that-I'd-drive-even-more dept.

Transportation 687

Jake Staub writes "Just replaced the gasoline engine in a Honda Insight with a Diesel engine. On a 3,000 mile cross-country shakedown journey the car averaged 92mpg over 1,800 miles. Around a very hilly town in Northwest Washington, the car is averaging 78mpg. These mileage averages are without the electric side of the vehicle fully functional. With a bit more tinkering on the electric side and through a slight gearing change through tire size, it is anticipated that the car will likely average 100mpg. The build for the car has been documented on the web site and is as close to open source as my time allows. The car was built by two guys in a garage in Southern Maryland. If we can do it I don't see any reason why major auto manufacturers can't do it since we used their parts."

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687 comments

Gutless? (1)

quangdog (1002624) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106431)

So it's diesel - is it as gutless as I've been led to believe diesel cars are? I've never driven one, but I am genuinely curious....

Re:Gutless? (2, Informative)

popeye44 (929152) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106493)

I'm not saying this one isn't gutless. But current diesel technology allows for some serious horsepower and the acceleration of some vehicles I have been in are on par with other vehicles of their size.

Unfortunately Diesel has a bad name. Partly because many gutless vehicles were made with it. I'd like to know this vehicles specs so I'm off to RTFA.

Re:Gutless? (-1, Offtopic)

bhima (46039) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106829)

The best thing I can think to say about this is:

Burn-in is a severe problem with any currently manufactured Plasma Television (apologies to those with Sigs turned off).

I am awaiting for someone to make use of a processor metaphor... after all the car metaphors this is least we can do.

Re:Gutless? (5, Informative)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106503)

No, modern diesels are nothing like the anemic POS that GM released in the 70s. Mainly because of the addition of the turbo charger (which diesels benefit greatly from), but common rail, higher injection pressures, advances in metallurgy.

My TDI is quite peppy, mainly because the shape of the torque curve. BMW has a 335d and X5 which they are selling here now. VW and Benz have been selling diesels here almost non-stop since the 70s.

That's why I always laugh when Chevy's ads come on trying to sell me this AMAZING 29 MPG car.

I got 48 MPG in a '86 IDI Diesel (that was a bit weak, but who needs more than 50 HP?)
I get 45 MPG in a '98 TDI diesel that is quite peppy. I have upgraded injectors and a special chip tune. I bet I'm just barely over 110 HP, if that.

Re:Gutless? (2, Informative)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106679)

All diesels in the 70s where gutless. Heck simple truth was all cars in the US in the 70s where pretty gutless. The 70s was when we where trying to get emission controls to work and computers for controlling fuel injection and spark where primitive or just not available.
GM got such a bad rap on the diesel and for the most part it was unfair.
The GM diesel where sold to people that didn't know how to maintain them and by dealers that really didn't know how to maintain them. People that bought a 300D where used to paying Hans the big bucks. Olds buyers where not.
Also GM didn't put in a water separator. That was shouldn't have been an issue but right then quality of diesel went to crap and you had a lot of failed injector pumps.
Again MB was used to crap fuel and put in the extra filtering needed.

Re:Gutless? (1)

TheModelEskimo (968202) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106869)

and a special chip tune.

Ooooh! That is SO cool!!! Which song is it? Does it play a different part of the song if you get over 100 MPG? Can you post the .MOD file please??

Re:Gutless? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29106519)

My 2006 Jetta TDI (1.9L diesel) is much more responsive than the 1994 Grand Am GT I drove previously (2.3L Quad 4). I'm not forced to gear down on some hills I needed to with the old car. I must have missed out on all the rumours that diesels are gutless.

Re:Gutless? (1)

SpuriousLogic (1183411) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106525)

That is the #1 reason we don't have more diesels - the old, 1980's legacy of gutless 40hp diesels. New turbo-diesels are NOTHING like those POS cars. Go to a VW dealer and drive either a diesel Jetta or Bug - they have GREAT pickup - way better than a gas engine, especially at highway speed where the torque in a gas engine totally falls off. Because diesels require more compression, the engines are built stronger so last much, much longer than gas. And diesel is about 30% more efficient than gas engines, so until diesel costs 30% more than gas, you are saving money, let alone your car/truck lasts longer so you don't need to buy a new one as often.

Re:Gutless? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29106731)

Diesel isn't exactly more efficient [wikipedia.org], it's more that it has more stored energy per litre than gasoline. Diesel is also more dense, which means you are going to have "more" diesel (by weight) in a 40 L tank than you would gasoline.

The same way a propane/natural gas convertible stove isn't more efficient on propane. It's the same stove, so it shouldn't be any more efficient on one vs. the other (the only change between the two is the size of the venturi, which is bigger for natual gas to allow more gas to flow). The difference is it simply takes more natural gas to get the same amount of heat, because it doesn't have the same stored energy or density.

Re:Gutless? (2, Interesting)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106815)

Diesel IS more efficient.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diesel_cycle [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four-stroke_engine#The_Otto_cycle [wikipedia.org]

Comparing the two formulae it can be seen that for a given compression ratio (r), the ideal Otto cycle will be more efficient. However, a diesel engine will be more efficient overall since it will have the ability to operate at higher compression ratios. If a petrol engine were to have the same compression ratio, then knocking (self-ignition) would occur and this would severely reduce the efficiency, whereas in a diesel engine, the self ignition is the desired behavior. Additionally, both of these cycles are only idealizations, and the actual behavior does not divide as clearly or sharply. And the ideal Otto cycle formula stated above does not include throttling losses, which do not apply to diesel engines.

Using the diesel cycle with other fuels has gotten >50% thermal efficiency in the lab, which is DAMN good IMHO.

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-08/uow-ga073109.php [eurekalert.org]

Re:Gutless? (1)

quintus_horatius (1119995) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106877)

You missed the point of your own reference. The more refined something is (say, gasoline) the more energy is required to get it to that point. That expended energy lowers the absolute efficiency. If I remember correctly, for every gallon of gasoline produced, the equivalent of a gallon of gasoline is consumed in the refining process. That's pretty inefficient. Diesel has a better in:out ratio. Natural gas is the most efficient petroleum product because it doesn't need to be refined at all.

Re:Gutless? (1)

the grace of R'hllor (530051) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106543)

Almost all Dutch driving schools use diesel cars (they're a bit easier in terms of clutching, and with the mileage they drive, it's more economical), so I've had quite a few hours in one.

They have plenty of kick. They're more comfortable to drive (power curve is less peaked, so at low RPM you have more power, and as I said they clutch easier).

But hey: go to a dealer and take a test drive. Then you'll know. And knowing is half the battle.

Re:Gutless? (1)

spaceyhackerlady (462530) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106557)

So try driving one. Then you will know. Modern diesels can be very fast indeed.

My van (a Mitsubishi L300 Delica) has a 2.5 litre turbocharged diesel engine. By North American standards it's severely underpowered, with straight line performance like an old air-cooled VW Beetle. It does what it needs to do: it cruises nicely on the highway, and has all the acceleration it needs for freeway on-ramps and city traffic.

...laura

I'd buy this car. (1)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106585)

I drive a VW Golf TDI ("turbo diesel...") for both the gas mileage and the torque. (That's good for acceleration.) To broaden your mind, stop at a VW dealership and try one out.

I love my car, but I'd replace it with a commercially available diesel electric hybrid in a heartbeat. Beyond the incredible mileage, there would be something cool about driving a diesel+electric arrangement similar to that in train locomotives.

Re:I'd buy this car. (2, Informative)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106651)

TDI = Turbo Direct Injection (Fuel is injected straight into the cylinders)
SDI = Stratified Diesel Injection. (Same as above, no turbo).
IDI = Indirect Injector. (Fuel is injected into prechamber.) Came with and without a turbo.

Re:Gutless? (1, Insightful)

ottothecow (600101) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106589)

Diesels still don't put down a ton of horsepower...but there is a saying in the auto industry that "people buy horsepower but drive torque"

Diesels have a ton of torque--they have the low end grunt needed to jam you into your seat, you just have to get used to not shifting at 6k rpm

Re:Gutless? (1)

VernonNemitz (581327) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106621)

The problem with diesels is not the engine; it's the fuel. The percentage of a barrel of oil that can become diesel fuel is problematic. Haven't you noticed how the price of diesel used to be rather less than gasoline, but now is usually the same or even more? Some of that was because in the "old" days the demand for diesel was simply low, so a low price was the consequence. Then a lot of auto makers started selling diesel cars and demand for the fuel shot up against the limits of production capacity. There has since been time for capacity to increase, except now we have total global demand approaching/passing the limts of total global production. Don't expect the price to ever go back down to old levels.

Re:Gutless? (4, Informative)

Khyber (864651) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106783)

Arco Gas Station down the street from my house - Regular 87 Octane - 3.05/g diesel 2.85/g

this is in Southern California.

Re:Gutless? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29106635)

Diesel engines have come a long way in the past few years....

"Common-rail technology, 6.0 litres, 368 kW (500 bhp). 1,000 Nm of torque between 1,750 and 3,000 rpm, taking you from 0 to 62 mph in only 5.5 seconds."

http://www.audi.co.uk/audi/uk/en2/new_cars/q7/audi-q7-v12/engine.html

Re:Gutless? (1)

Tim4444 (1122173) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106647)

If you consider hi-torque gutless, then yes. Diesel electrics have been used in railroad locomotives for decades now. Of course if you just want speed maybe you should go alcohol like they use in Indy cars. Really though, you can make any car gutless if you really want to regardless of the engine in it. That's more about power to weight ratio than just the engine type - consider the Mustang 2.

Re:Gutless? (1)

hardburn (141468) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106939)

Diesel-electrics are used in trains for torque conversions, not efficiency. The gears in a traditional transmission would need to be too big to handle the job. For long cruising, hybrids show little to no improvement over pure diesel.

Re:Gutless? (2, Interesting)

ageoffri (723674) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106707)

I recently traded my 06 VW Golf TDI in on a new Camaro. Let me tell you, a diesel is far from gutless. Thanks to the low end torque of diesel the car accelerates more like a small V6 instead of a I4. I could comfortable cruise at 80 mph which is 5 over the speed limit on the highway by me. When it comes to automotive performance, horsepower determines top speed and torque acceleration.

If I get to the point that I can afford a 2nd car payment or pay off my new car another VW TDI will be at the top of my list.

Re:Gutless? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29106763)

21st century diesels != '70s diesels. Ask any European.

Re:Gutless? (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106791)

When we went to Germany last year, the rental company stuck us with an Opel Vectra station wagon. (It's a GM product if you're not familiar.) The electronics sucked, the interior was cheap and breaking, but I have [b]no complaints[/b] about the quality of the diesel engine or the manual transmission. The car was suitably powerful to play on the Autobahn, yet still got over 35 MPG during the course of a two-week driving tour of Germany and Austria.

(The rental company wouldn't let us take it over ~130MPH. =( We were supposed to have a BMW 335D but it was "not available" when we arrived.)

Re:Gutless? (-1, Offtopic)

AP31R0N (723649) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106807)

Thanks for the CoinForge link! GoldSilver.com has a minimum of $50 and high shipping costs. Other sites seem to have even higher minimum orders.

Re:Gutless? (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106907)

I drove a cutlass cierra diesel for several years. It was loud and stunk. It sounded like a tractor. Though nowadays with so many people driving diesel pickup trucks in the area it would cause more confusion than surprise I think.

It was heavy, and since it was also front-wheel-drive, 80% of the weight of the vehicle was on the front tires. (diesels are heavy on their own, FWD makes it a lot worse up front) But it was great in the snow here, it was almost impossible to get stuck. I always had traction, and could take turns with 90 degree pivots at the intersection with proper steering and braking due to the traction and weight up front. Its only issue was the front suspension was massive and low, and it could get hung up on tree stumps and other things. (I went offroad a lot with it...)

It had poor acceleration, but good power. I could tow about anything - I pulled a van out that was in mud deep enough to be sitting on its frame from front to back. (I'm sure that didn't do the transmission any favors but I didn't care) Fuel economy was around 18 in town, 23 highway. (not good for now, but this was an '82)

Because that particular (diesel) model was only made for a single year, parts were hard to come by. It had a reoccurring problem with the fuel injector pump, and it had to be replaced three times. Finding a mechanic to work on it was also a challenge at the time, there was only one place in town that would do it - the dealership wouldn't even touch it.

Over the years I've seen four others just like mine that had their engine pulled and replaced with a gas engine. I finally got rid of it when it blew a head gasket. I'm assuming that was the instigating factor in the others I'd seen getting gas engine blocks. That and the "why don't we just tax the truckers again" mentality for fuel taxation.

If I had to call it something I'd call it a "redneck car". Not particularly bright, pretty, or fast, but solid, powerful, and practical.

Re:Gutless? (1)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106921)

Don't forget, if it's a hybrid, the electric motor kicks in for short acceleration bursts. So even if the thing were using an old VW Dasher diesel engine--70 HP, IIRC--it might feel totally like a racer.

Frankly I Recommend Such Things (0, Troll)

the grace of R'hllor (530051) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106441)

Diesel engines are way better at mileage, and is significantly cheaper at the pump. At the same time, though, the stuff they output is worse, lots of fine dust particulates.

For the MPG's though, I want one.

Re:Frankly I Recommend Such Things (2, Informative)

modecx (130548) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106581)

Yeah, you should have told everyone diesel was significantly cheaper than gas last November/December. You might have got a black eye from one of the guys who actually needs to drive his diesel truck/van to make a living.

Diesel was touching $5.00 a gallon, and gas was hovering around $3.00. It would cost me nearly $60 to fill up my Jetta TDI. By the way, the first fill up in 2002 cost me $16.53.

Re:Frankly I Recommend Such Things (2, Informative)

SpuriousLogic (1183411) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106587)

The newest diesel engines, because of California, now emit much less particulate than even last years engines (however still more than gas). Also NO2 is much reduced for the same reasons.

Because .. (2, Insightful)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106447)

For various reasons the industry in the US has shunned diesel for private vehicles. That has to change before any headway can be made.

Re:Because .. (2, Interesting)

eln (21727) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106521)

Volkswagen is trying to change that with their Jetta TDI. They ran a bunch of basically infomercials with the Mythbusters guys after each episode for a while trying to "bust the myths" surrounding diesel engines. Time will tell if their marketing campaign is successful, but I would love to see a diesel engine car make some headway here. Personally, I figure I'll be in the market for a new car in 1 or 2 years, and if the Jetta TDI is as good as they want us to think it is, I'm leaning pretty heavily toward it at this point.

Re:Because .. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106687)

I rode in a new one a couple of weeks ago. If you are not put off by the size (some people will think it is small), it is a nice car, with enough pickup that you can feel the acceleration.

The trunk was surprisingly large for the size of the car, and there were no issues with legroom (I am a somewhat short-legged 6' and had plenty of space in the front passenger seat).

Re:Because .. (3, Insightful)

east coast (590680) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106643)

For various reasons the industry in the US has shunned diesel for private vehicles.

Maybe because the public has shunned it?

Let's be honest here, the industry will do what the public wants when the public votes with their dollars. Diesel could be the answer to the problem but it's also perceived as a problem in and of itself with the public. For the industry it will take less for them to build a technology than to dispel the FUD around an old technology.

And even above the FUD it's hard. At least in my case. I was looking into diesel over a decade ago and good information was hard to get. It was a scary beast when I heard the stories of the fuel gelling, the cost of diesel and engine block heaters. Even with all of this what ended up killing it off for me was that I could only find one service station within 5 miles of my house that had diesel. It made me wonder just how hard it would be to fuel my car in a pinch.

Today I would be less apprehensive but given that I have a newish vehicle and in expect to see a swing in the market before I need a new one I guess it's a moot point.

Re:Because .. (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106837)

In Europe, the majority of new cars sold now are diesels, and petrol stations sell more diesel than petrol. *Every* petrol station sells diesel, so that is not a problem.

Re:Because .. (5, Informative)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106695)

For various reasons the industry in the US has shunned diesel for private vehicles. That has to change before any headway can be made.

Well, the big issue was diesel was much dirtier in North America (high sulfur content) than in Europe, and a lot of the technologies that make diesel cars behave like gas cars tend to require the clean diesel. These days though, I believe the legislation has made low-sulfur diesel mandatory, which is why we see VW and Mercedes starting to import more diesel cars.

Quite a change, really - drive a heavy SUV that gets 5L/100km or better (probably spewing less CO2 than the little car next to you...). Or the fact that the engine lacks the traditional diesel clatter normally associated with trucks, or hell, doesn't Mercedes have a thing that mixes ammonia or something with exhaust that makes the exhaust even cleaner still?

Re:Because .. (2, Informative)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106861)

The main reason is the EPA.

US emissions restrictions are different from Europe. Not necessarily stricter, but different.

As I understand it, US emissions regulations are very strict about particulates and NOx emissions (both drawbacks for diesel. Particulates is easy to solve and has been solved, NOx is much harder.)

Euro emissions regulations are very strict about unburned hydrocarbons IIRC, which is good for diesel but bad for gasoline. They are far less strict about NOx.

Something's wrong with this idea (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29106449)

The black helicopters need to be sent in here. Gas Mileage like that is un-American. Before you know it, the schematics for the water-car will get out.

Re:Something's wrong with this idea (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29106501)

Gas Mileage like that is un-American.

Last I looked the majority of cars weren't built in America.

Re:Something's wrong with this idea (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106633)

Low particulate emissions are bourgeois imperialist plot to deprive the great Chinese Race of vital air vitamins.

Re:Something's wrong with this idea (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106657)

Gas Mileage like that is un-American.

Last I looked the majority of cars weren't built in America.

Thank God. If we all had to drive the crap GM made, we'd have more pollution, and the higher costs of scrapping "bio-degradable" American cars.

GM and Chrysler shouldn't have been bailed out - the poor suckers who bought their crap are more deserving.

Re:Something's wrong with this idea (1)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106599)

Hmmm water based car's out date the petrol engine did you forget about steam?

Re:Something's wrong with this idea (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106689)

Your steam-based engine is actually coal-based.

Re:Something's wrong with this idea (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106823)

That depends on what you're looking at. Sort of like "electric cars" are not "just electric." Something produces the electricity. Like coal. (or hydro, wind, solar, nuclear, of course..)

Re:Something's wrong with this idea (1)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106759)

The black helicopters need to be sent in here. Gas Mileage like that is un-American. Before you know it, the schematics for the water-car will get out.

It almost did. That's why they killed Billy Mays! [reddit.com] Yes, he had cocaine in his system but that was because he loved eating copious amounts of cash.

Two thoughts... (0, Troll)

Last_Available_Usern (756093) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106459)

1) They either have not done what they claim and their inflated mpg values will be shattered under third-party testing (least likely).

2) Big oil is so deep in peoples pockets that it's more porfitable for companies to get paid off then it is to actually make a car that would dominate the marketplace (most likely).

Re:Two thoughts... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29106833)

I dislike the fact that Big oil is always brought out to be the bad guy for buying out supposed dream cars that will change the face of the automotive industry. I think that statement is pretty weak and politically charged rather than backed up with actual facts. If an alternative method or fuel is proved by a person or group of people to have an advantage over our current energy source or the way in which we apply our energy to produce power in the form of transportation then it will come to the market place. Hydrogen / gasoline assisted vehicles started to catch on with a company in upstate NY selling there own kits. Pretty cool 92% burn rate in the chamber rather than I think 18% on gasoline. But don't hold my feet to the fire on the gasoline % although I know its close.It also burns cleaner than traditional straight gasoline. However it has'nt caught on. This is partly because people don't want to modify there cars. Since we ( People / Consumers ) are the market place we determine what we like and what we dont. Also what determines what comes to the market place is the cost associated with the good. At this point and time electric ( which Im very much partial to ) is in its infancy and has been for quite sometime. It has the potential of unlimited torque and speed that one day will dominate gasoline / diesel. But the problem with this form of power is that we are limited based on our current technology that is actually viable in terms of storage and size of electric motor. This will change but it will require Billions in investment in order to get over the hurdles of storage capacity and the weight of electric motors being reduced.

two words to explain why not ... (-1, Flamebait)

neonprimetime (528653) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106461)

If we can do it I don't see any reason why major auto manufacturers can't do it since we used their parts

union contracts

Re:two words to explain why not ... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29106497)

If we can do it I don't see any reason why major auto manufacturers can't do it since we used their parts

profit margin

fixed that for you.

Really? (4, Insightful)

Radical Moderate (563286) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106533)

If the unions have contracts that stipulate what cars the manufacturers can produce, that's news to me. Link please.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29106849)

Union Contracts (in all areas of industry) are scaring businesses away ... sometimes even to different countries. that's why America's car industry will fall flat on it's face unless things change. Take Mercury Marine, a boat manufacturer in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin ... that is currently as we speak fighting to keep it's 2,000 employee business in Fond du Lac, but the business wants to move it to a non-union town in Oklahoma. Unions are demanding more than their employee's deserve ... so the city of Fond du Lac is pretty much going to get screwed and Oklahoma is gonna get a good deal. The same thing is happening all over the place ... but in many cases we're not as lucky to keep the jobs in the U.S.A. they go elsewhere.

Re:two words to explain why not ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29106553)

another reason is patents. Since the Oil companies hold most of them in one form or another. We have had the technology for viable electric cars for the last 15 years. The Oil companies do not want us using them.

Re:two words to explain why not ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29106681)

Big oil.

Today on mutual of slashomaha... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29106463)

(whisper)When it comes to cars, the slashdotter species generally has absolutely NO idea what it is talking about. Shhhh. Here comes the posters now. Let's watch quietly as they trot out the same old ignorant meme's about hybrids, electrics and diesels.(/whisper)

Please pay your taxes in full (5, Funny)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106465)

By using less fuel you are shifting the tax burden onto those who cannot afford a high tech vehicle. We should expect owners of hybrids, electric cars and high efficiency vehicles to pay their fair share if they can't manage to pay their road tax through fuel purchases. Perhaps you people should be required to keep a log of your travel distances and cut a check when you renew your state registration based on your mileage.

Re:Please pay your taxes in full (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106571)

But by using less fuel they are also producing less pollution which means fewer tax dollars total will have to go towards solving that problem. They're helping more than they're hurting. I certainly don't see the need to remove an incentive to drive a more efficient vehicle.

Re:Please pay your taxes in full (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29106743)

You're right. They should have to pay for those poor factories that cannot be as effecient via cap and trade. For every amount of CO2 they aren't producing they should subsidize a factory or group of vehicles that produce extra CO2.

This isn't completely true (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106669)

If your taxes are fuel-based, it is correct. If they are based directly on mileage or on another proxy for mileage like tires, fuel economy isn't an issue.

On the other hand, if the fuel tax is used as an anti-pollution tax, then it's fair to tax the fuel as a proxy for pollution. Of course, not all vehicles pollute the same per gallon of fuel used, but that's another issue....

Re:Please pay your taxes in full (2, Insightful)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106709)

Don't be stupid. I mean, the widening fuel/tax-vs-driving gulf is a legit issue, but if the state wants their road tax money, they're perfectly capable of asking for it. (Demanding, actually). In the meantime, they're giving you a tax break for fuel efficiency, which isn't that bad a thing to do, all told.

And in general, I reject the premise that people are morally obligated to voluntarily donate as great a portion to their income as is feasible to the government (like some of those people who say "you shouldn't take a tax break you don't need") - particularly not giving all sorts of money to the Department of Transportation. There are better ways to serve humanity, people.

MA and OR are working on this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29106735)

Massachusetts and Oregon [techdirt.com] are working on shifting from a gas tax to a mileage tax for precisely this reason. No joke.

Re:Please pay your taxes in full (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106847)

I know you're joking, but that's actually an interesting train of thought... the rich are getting the good mileage and the poor can't afford good mileage cars. When the "rich" get something the "poor" can't have in other areas, usually people get upset. The "green" (and "organic") fad (I call it a fad because I actually think there is something to be said for no pesticides, etc, but people still get into it because it's a fad) is sort of a rich-person thing..

I already do (1, Insightful)

spookymonster (238226) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106863)

"By using less fuel you are shifting the tax burden onto those who cannot afford a high tech vehicle."

How do you figure? If the sticker price is higher, then so is the amount of taxes I'm paying to roll it off the showroom floor.

Also, your argument is only valid at the leading edge of the paradigm shift to high tech vehicle adoption. Eventually, those brand new 'high tech vehicles' will fall into the secondary markets (e.g., used car lots), becoming more affordable with each resale. It's only a matter of time until we reach the tipping point where gas guzzlers are in the minority. When we're all driving cars that get 100 mpg, then we're all sharing the burden equally.

Fighting progress because it changes the status quo is a losing proposition.

Re:Please pay your taxes in full (2, Interesting)

MarcQuadra (129430) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106905)

I live in a state with one of the highest gasoline taxes in the union, and our gas tax doesn't put a dent in our road maintenance budget, which is already not enough to properly maintain the roads.

Using less gas isn't 'shifting the burden' to those who can't afford a more efficient car, especially since there -are- efficient cheap cars. I bought my small 34 MPG car (on the efficient side for the USA) because I couldn't -afford- anything else.

Your argument tries to use economics as a way to discourage a more efficient system, and also expects consumers to act irrationally in their own worst interests, which goes against some of economics' own principles. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

I heard similar arguments against Cash for Clunkers (which I think is lame, but better than cash bailouts for car manufacturers). People were simultaneously castigating the program for 'destroying the cars that could be given to people who need them' and for 'creating a glut of used car parts that will hurt the market'. You can't simultaneously bitch that the program is reducing and increasing prices.

Also, how much did that cheap gas -really- cost us in tax dollars? I'm guessing that the -real fair market- price of gas is around $5 or $6/gallon, but the fact that we live in a country that has 5% of the world's population and spends almost 50% of the world's military dollars keeps the price of gas pretty low. Using less energy is a -good thing- for the economy, and will ultimately -reduce- tax burdens across the board.

that's why (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29106471)

And that's why I bought a Sat....oh wait.

MPG no longer relevant (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29106485)

This is bullshit, hybrid cars should use a different metric. In theory, a hybrid could get infinite MPG.

Re:MPG no longer relevant (1)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106845)

In theory, a hybrid could get infinite MPG.

          We obey the laws of physics in this household, young man!

          Brett

Re:MPG no longer relevant (1)

BobSixtyFour (967533) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106889)

This is bullshit, hybrid cars should use a different metric. In theory, a hybrid could get infinite MPG.

Only if it's a plug in hybrid.

Re:MPG no longer relevant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29106913)

In the case of cars whose only energy input is liquid hydrocarbon, such as the one being discussed, MPG is the correct metric for efficiency.

Plug-in's (with or withour an ICE backup) need a completely different metric.

Of course, these both ignore the fact that the EPA has been using the wrong metric all along -- emissions per mile are the only thing that should be regulated, and should be based on the worst mode of the vehicle.

particles (1)

anonieuweling (536832) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106495)

Diesel engine with WVO/PPO has less fine particle dust as output.
Also a particle filter can be used.
I saw an ad for an american petrol car that needed a hybrid version to average 1L in 16 KM which is relleay poor for a 'high tech' car.
I do like the diesel-electric idea, too bad the site is slashdotted?

Diesel is so obviously better for hybrids (5, Insightful)

MikeBabcock (65886) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106505)

Diesel engines have always been where hybrid cars should go, its just that in North America, most people avoid diesel and gas stations often don't have it.

Diesel engines afaik have always been more tunable to run very efficiently at specific speeds and are therefore a much better choice for generators in general (and are often used in that capacity). Using a fixed-speed diesel engine to generate electricity for a hybrid vehicle seems obvious, and its been done for both city buses and the military HMMV with great success.

I believe a consumer focus on gasoline has lead to car companies' focus on gasoline-electric hybrids instead of diesel-electric.

Re:Diesel is so obviously better for hybrids (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106607)

I've NEVER had a problem finding diesel. If the place you're going has *anything*. It was likely brought there by truck. Trucks run diesels, so the place you're going likely has diesel.

And you will NEVER get more efficient cruising than an engine mechanically connected to the wheels. Buses have a completely different duty cycles to most vehicles and series hybrid won't make sense to install in them. Trains use them as a transmission because a normal geared transmission would be near impossible.

Re:Diesel is so obviously better for hybrids (1)

MikeBabcock (65886) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106755)

You're missing the fact that in buses you're wasting all that frequent braking power which could be reclaimed, as well as the large flat roof for solar collection.

Also, as someone who drives an awful lot, there are a whole lot of gas stations out there without diesel although the situation has gotten better.

Re:Diesel is so obviously better for hybrids (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106891)

Maybe you don't notice it because you aren't looking for it. The only stations that don't have it in the Widwest are in the ghetto.

And I meant that series hybrids wouldn't make sense to install in cars. In Busses and garbage trucks they'd make perfect sense. You could probably quadruple a garbage truck's efficiency with a genset at peak fuel efficiency and a hybrid drive train.

Re:Diesel is so obviously better for hybrids (5, Informative)

klocwerk (48514) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106705)

Except that you're talking about a series hybrid drive, and only the Chevy Volt works that way at the moment.

The Insight and the Prius are both parallel drive hybrids, which means the gas engine turns the wheels as well as powers up the batteries. The electric turns the wheels sometimes. The Volt's big thing is that it's a series hybrid, the drive is always electric and the gas engine runs at its high-efficiency speed to charge the batteries, then shuts off again.

Meaning that your comment would be correct if all hybrids were series hybrids, but as of now your comment would only apply to the Volt which isn't in production yet.

Re:Diesel is so obviously better for hybrids (3, Interesting)

MikeBabcock (65886) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106819)

I'm quite certain the Volt is in fact in production [engadget.com] at this point, and yes I'm speaking of series hybrid drives but that doesn't invalidate my point at all.

My point was simply about using hybrid drives at all, and the choice to use parallel hybrid drives for gasoline engines stems precisely from inefficiencies.

As another person replied, a series hybrid will never be more efficient than a straight engine, but that's ignoring the charging of the batteries through third party options like regenerative braking, solar collection and wall sockets.

Re:Diesel is so obviously better for hybrids (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29106717)

Using a fixed-speed diesel engine to generate electricity for a hybrid vehicle seems obvious, and its been done for both city buses and the military HMMV with great success.

Diesel-electrics have been used since the 1930s AT LEAST by the railroads.

Re:Diesel is so obviously better for hybrids (1)

SimonHova (1236206) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106803)

Diesel engines afaik have always been more tunable to run very efficiently at specific speeds and are therefore a much better choice for generators in general. Using a fixed-speed diesel engine to generate electricity for a hybrid vehicle seems obvious, and its been done for both city buses and the military HMMV with great success.

The Chevy Volt takes advantage of this, and will be a series hybrid- no connection between the engine and the powertrain. This means that it will be a much better candidate for a diesel transplant, as city buses have recorded excellent gains in mileage from their non-hybrid brethren.

Re:Diesel is so obviously better for hybrids (1)

LOTHAR, of the Hill (14645) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106805)

Diesel is good, but I'd like to see Mazda make a Wankel based Hybrid. It's low weight and excellent fixed speed performance is ideal for hybrid vehicles.

Diesel Hybrid? (3, Interesting)

lalena (1221394) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106597)

Since the site has been /.'ed and I can't RTFA, I have to ask... Is this really a Diesel Electric engine (as in locomotives) where the diesel engine is used solely to create electricity and is not connected to the drive train? Or is this actually a Diesel Hybrid?

I'm not all that impressed (2, Interesting)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106611)

The current model VW's that have diesel options (Jetta, Golf, Beetle) can average 50mpg all day long with 4 adults and the AC turned on. The first generation Honda Insight, by comparison, barely fits two grown adults (no back seat at all), and has a much smaller fuel tank. If they did this with the new Insight (their web page seems to have gone up in smoke so I can't tell which Insight they used) it would be a little more impressive, though they would still be dealing with the technical issues that face hybrids that do no apply to diesel.

I for one would rather start with a diesel and tune it to get 70mpg without a trunk full of batteries.

GM should listen (1)

alop (67204) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106773)

I've always wondered why the Chevy Volt is planned to have a 4-cyl engine. Initially they spec'd it for a turbo 3-cyl 1 liter... basically a beefed up Geo metro engine. But Diesel should have been the initial plan, railway locomotives have been using that setup for decades.

Isn't it a feature of diesels that... (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106785)

Isn't it a feature of diesels that they run best in a narrow RPM range? If so, they would be ideal for operating a generator optimized to that range in a hybrid.

A genuine 100mpg car -- not this phoney 230mpg G(overnment) M(otors) Chevy Volt figure -- with acceptable performance would truly excite the automobile market much more than a 99mpg car can.

Re:Isn't it a feature of diesels that... (3, Informative)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106917)

Isn't it a feature of diesels that they run best in a narrow RPM range?

        That's a characteristic of ALL internal combustion engines, not just diesels. The reason it has been associated with diesels is that the common applications of diesels are those that lend themselves to narrow-range or constant rpm applications like trucks and diesel-electric trains. You could easily optimize a gasoline or methanol engine for a particular RPM range wtih similar results - a restrictor plate NASCAR motor being a hallmark example. It jusy runs around at an almost constant RPM the entire race, and it highly optimized for both power and mileage.

        Brett

Re:Isn't it a feature of diesels that... (1)

Shadowsinger (902713) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106925)

Other way around, NdK. Diesels have a wide, flat power curve over their RPM range, while gasolines have a narrow, peaky power curve. Diesels can be tuned to be extremely efficient at nearly any particular point along their curve, whereas the same can be said of gasoline engines only in their power peak.

Which Honda Insight Are We Talking About? (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106799)

Since their webserver seems to have gone up in a cloud of smoke I can't view the web page to see what car they worked on. Some of us might not realize that there have been two very different cars sold in the US by Honda called the Insight. The current one of course is a nearly perfect clone of the Toyota Prius. However some time ago there was a much, much, smaller hybrid sold by Honda under the same name. It was probably the first mass-market hybrid sold in the US. The first Insight could almost fit inside the trunk of the new one.

Hence getting 78mpg in the older Insight would not be nearly as much of a feat as doing the same in the new one.

Can't capture the same benefit twice (5, Interesting)

redelm (54142) | more than 4 years ago | (#29106809)

The main reason gasoline hybrids get better mileage than direct-coupled engines is that the gasoline engine is not forced to operate at inefficient points on its' BSFC map (near closed throttle). The engine only runs when needed, and then it runs near its' BEP (Best efficiency point), or occasionally at maximum power which also has decent efficiency. It is not forced to idle and off-idle conditions where the pumping losses are horrible and efficiency s#x (5x fuel for same marginal power).

Diesel engines have entirely different BSFC maps, and do not suffer the same pumping losses (vacuum across throttle plate). Their drop off at idle is _much_ lower than for gasoline engines, so they're great in city-wide European traffic jams. Diesel fuel also is ~15% denser (more heat per gallon) and the higher compression ratio is about 5% more theoretically efficient.

But a diesel hybrid does not have much to gain by hybridization. The BSFC map is much flatter, and the engine restarting power & wear is considerably higher.

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