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Diesel Cars - High-Tech Low Tech

timothy posted more than 13 years ago | from the bluesmoke-is-more-than-a-gaming-site dept.

Science 340

jonbrewer writes: "The NYTimes is running a great article talking about the growing trend of Diesel cars in Europe, their fantastic mileage, and the fact that America ignores them. While the article wows us with 78mpg for the Audi A2, I'm happy with the 45mpg my TDI Golf makes." Until diesel pumps are everywhere, I think I'll hold out for my solar/hydrogen-fuel-cell/flywheel hybrid.

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Re:Sure (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#195882)

Yes & no. Properly made biodiesel contains virtually zero Sulfur emissions (the key component in acid rain & most dangerous pollutant of today's cars). And pollution from biodiesel is recycled by the plants that are used to make biodiesel, all within the timecycle important to keeping our atmosphere clean for our generation. This is not the case with "gasoline". There's a reason we have been weaned away from biodiesel - it means empowerment for the individual and power away from government & corps. - because biodiesel can be made by you and me. And unlike gasoline it is non-toxic.

Re:People should consider more efficient forms (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#195883)

I heard that a human on a bike is the most energy-efficient creature in the whole of the animal kingdom. I would imagine this is dependent on a flat, hard road surface.

Re:diesel pumps *are* everywhere (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#195884)

Actually, diesel isn't that common. Sure there's probably a pump within 10 miles of most people, but it depends where you live. Where I am (north of D.C.) only about 1/5 of the pumps here have diesel. I found this out when I had to borrow a diesel car for a month. I had to drive around quite a bit the first day to find a place with diesel pumps. And I don't like to have to drive out of my way to get gas.

Re:While this sounds good, I'm holding out for... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#195885)

I'm still waiting for the matter/anti-matter injection systems to get here.

Crusin' down the highway at 700Mph, leaving the police helicopters in the dust (dust cloud actually).

All's well 'til you enter the DC city limits, three potholes later the anti-matter magnetic confinment beam fails and suddenly you're new ride is a gigantic particle bomb.

People should consider more efficient forms (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#195889)

Try, for example walking somewhere. Doing this on a regular basis can be considered a cure for most overwieight people and it is much better for the environment.

diesel pumps *are* everywhere (2)

Trepidity (597) | more than 13 years ago | (#195893)

Umm, diesel pumps are everywhere, since trucks in North America typically use diesel. Most service stations (at least everywhere in the United States I've been) have at least one diesel pump. It's generally the stations without diesel pumps that are the rarity, not the other way around.

Now that said, the reason many Americans don't like diesel cars is that diesel is thicker and less volatile, and thus diesel engines don't start as easily, particularly in cold climates. And with the advent of gas/electric hybrid cars that get 70+ mpg with standard unleaded gasoline, it seems unlikely that diesel cars will make inroads in the near future.

Re:VW Lupo 3l (1)

smash (1351) | more than 13 years ago | (#195909)

But, 100KM is about, what, 65 maybe 70 miles? And 3 litres is slightly more than a gallon. That gives your VW about 60MPG, maybe 65MPG at most.

sorry.. but your maths is a bit out there....

1 gallon is nearer to 4.5l, which would work this out to significantly MORE than 65mpg...

smash (cbf doing the maths, but the 3l=1gallon is definately wrong ;)

Re:Diesel pumps. (1)

Iffy Bonzoolie (1621) | more than 13 years ago | (#195911)

I live in St. Louis in the US. Just about every gas station here sells diesel and its usually cheaper than the regular stuff.

I live in the San Fransisco Bay Area, and I *rarely* see a gas station that offers diesel. If I'm driving to L.A., then all the gas stations along the freeway have them, obviously, but in town - almost never. Of course, there's a gas station on every corner, so even if the percentage that offer diesel is low, the chances of finding one aren't too bad.


Think ahead! (1)

Philipp (1858) | more than 13 years ago | (#195912)

It turned out that the answer is no; there is no cost savings, at least on my 36-month loan, if I had done so. I pay about $490 a month; a TDI would have cost about $540 monthly. The extra $50 in monthly payments is about the same as what fuel costs, depending on how I drive and what the fuel prices are.

Isn't that a bit short sighted? You'll save the $50 a month on the more efficent car also after the 36 month loan period. If you keep the car for 10 years, that makes a (10*12-36)*$50=$4200 difference! Not even mentioning the benefit to the environment.

Re:Environment (1)

Forge (2456) | more than 13 years ago | (#195914)

Like the man says. Diesel vehicles pollute more. However when your burning 1 gallon in 78 miles I think the lower volume of fuel goes some way to negate that.

Around here (Jamaica) Diesel pumps are literally everywhere. I.e. Every gas station in the country has 3 kinds of fuel. diesel is one of them.

However diesel cars are still not very popular. the main problem here is that auto purchasing is all about tradeoffs between; cost, performance, apearance/image, comfort and availability/price of spare parts.

In other words this is Toyota land. You can get a replacement engine for your Toyota Corolla for the cost of an overhaul kit for an Audi. Nissans are a close second. The structure is that around 90% of the parts dealers stock Nissan and toyota parts. Around 1/2 of those also stock parts for a 3rd or 4th brand.

Yes. This leaves some cars with a single source for all the parts and to top it off we have a customs maze that makes hoping online to order spare parts a scary proposition.

However a lot of people are quite happy with the Toyota LiteAce, HiAce and TownAce. All come in Diesel versions and all are reliable and maintainable.

PS: The land is still grean but the harbor stinks.

A few facts and notes on alternative fuels, etc. (5)

HBK-4G (2475) | more than 13 years ago | (#195917)

I've been working on a project at Georgia Tech called FutureTruck, which is sponsored by the Department of Energy and some major automobile manufacturers. If you're interested, the website is here [futuretruck.org] . GT is one of 15 schools from around the US and Canada that were tasked with taking a GM Suburban, a rather poor MPG performer but popular in today's market, and making it cleaner, more efficient, and (if possible) even more consumer-attractive.

Just a couple things I've noticed over the past 2 years of this project:

1. Fuel cell vehicles are still a ways off. The hydrogen containers are bulky and heavy, and a system still costs around $1 million.

2. Diesel/biodiesel looks promising but a few problems remain - more polluting than normal gasoline, different performance issues, and such. However, they are more efficient overall. Paired with an electric motor, diesel engines could turn out to be cleaner and more effective than gasoline-only vehicles.

3. Electric-only vehicles are very limited in range and scope. Batteries are still heavy, even the 'new' kinds of batteries like Lithium-Ion. Combined with the need for a charging/recharging infrastructure, and the (at least) American desire for power, the electric-only vehicle will likely be relegated to shuttle cars on a set path.

4. Hybrids, like diesel-electric or gasoline-electric, seem to be the wave of the near future. I believe all the schools participating in FutureTruck are using a hybrid system of some sort. The Honda Insight is a good example of a production car that is a hybrid vehicle. It can reach about 70 MPG after a bit of driver training/getting-used-to. There are an array of configurations and methodologies for hybrid systems that I won't get into here, due to space considerations. But I believe, and so do a lot of other schools and even car manufacturers, that hybrids will pave the way in the near future. Beyond that... maybe they'll have fusion power worked out by then. ;)

I hope this helps some of you out with what's going on in the alternative fuels/powertrain area. I am by no means an authority on this subject, so visit the Department of Energy, the Argonne National Laboratories, and the Society for Automotive Engineers websites for much more detailed information. Those websites are here [doe.gov] , here [anl.gov] , and here [sae.org] respectively.

Diesel (3)

Uruk (4907) | more than 13 years ago | (#195927)

Until diesel pumps are everywhere, I think I'll hold out for my solar/hydrogen-fuel-cell/flywheel hybrid.

And that's exactly why they aren't eveywhere. Because people are 'holding out'. New technology (even sometimes old technology like deisel) takes adoption.

Re:Combine them with hybrid technology (4)

Goonie (8651) | more than 13 years ago | (#195937)

this is a what a diesel locomotive does.

Yeah, but they do it for a different reason, IIRC. Diesel locomotives use a hybrid arrangement because a pure diesel locomotive would have trouble moving away from rest smoothly (imagine changing gears on a locomotive . . . ). I don't know whether they use regenerative braking or not, though . . . as diesel locomotives tend to not brake very often it might not be worth it.

Go you big red fire engine!

Combine them with hybrid technology (5)

Goonie (8651) | more than 13 years ago | (#195938)

Hmmm. If diesel cars get approximately twice the mileage of petrol cars, and hybrids are about twice as efficient as conventional cars, makes you wonder what kind of fuel efficiency you'd get out of a diesel/electric hybrid, doesn't it?

Of course, while petrol is as cheap as water in the US and Australia we'll all keep pouring fuel down our oversized, overpriced and unsafe (both for drivers, passengers and especially for other road users) SUVs. Sigh . . .

Go you big red fire engine!

Re:While this sounds good, I'm holding out for... (2)

Locutus (9039) | more than 13 years ago | (#195940)

I'm not sure about the battery technology but there was a US company called Rosen Motors which built such a car in 1995/96. Only problem was that they went to Detroit to see if the US auto behemoths would help them mass produce them. Detroit didn't want anything to do with it so Rosen motors was shut down. The division which made the compact turbine engines still lives though. It's called Capstone Turbines if my memory serves me right.

Once again the US auto industry is getting the ars kicked by the Japanese. Oh, I own a Toyota Prius and after 9400 miles, I'm averaging 48.1 MPG. When the rolling blackouts hit I power a home circuit with a 12V to 110V Inverter and a 100' extension cord in the trunk of the Prius.

eat THAT oil companies and crocked Texas powerplant owners!

Diesel pumps ARE everywhere... (1)

chaoskitty (11449) | more than 13 years ago | (#195944)

I don;t understand why every slashdot post needs to have some dismissive comment appended to the end of it.

I have a Diesel Chevette with 400,000 miles on it, and Diesel pumps ARE everywhere. I've driven to every part of the USA, and trust me: truck stops are EVERYWHERE. (In case you don't know, trucks have Diesel engines.)

And although I haven't travelled much in the world outside of the US, the few places I did travel to had MORE Diesel facilities than the US.

So stop with the uneducated comments.

don't diesel emissions suck? (1)

Lx (12170) | more than 13 years ago | (#195945)

Is it just me, or don't diesel engines produce a rather nasty amount of emissions? I thought I heard something about Golf TDIs not even being legal here in California because of emissions. That said, my hope for the future would be some kind of ethanol-based alternative - I really don't think electric or biodiesel can come close to the horsepower and acceleration of modern gas-powered cars, and I love to drive.

-=lx=-

Re:diesels (1)

berniecase (20853) | more than 13 years ago | (#195954)

Although diesels may be much more efficient, if you start putting strict environmental controls on them, they'll start to decline in efficiency. Gasoline engines could be marginally more efficient if they didn't have catalytic convertors and other emission controls. The main reason for this is less constricted airflow going out of the tailpipe. I do not advocate reducing pollution controls to increase efficiency however. There have to be better ways.

I drive a gasoline 4-cyl. Jetta. I've pined for a TDI VW (Jetta, Golf, New Beetle, etc.) for sometime. I've not had the chance to drive one, but I've followed behind a few, and it's really surprising not to smell the exhaust. It's amazing what VW's done with those engines. I'd recommend that anybody should read this article about VW's 25th anniversary of the TDI: http://www.vwvortex.com/news/index_25tdi.html.

--Bernie

Re:Diesel getting better via Genetic algorithyms (1)

spineboy (22918) | more than 13 years ago | (#195959)

There has been alot of work using computer genetic algorithyms modeling of diesel engines. Engines with these later designs have 50% reduced emissions and 15% increased fuel efficiency over todays best engines. See genetic diesel algorithym [sciencedaily.com]

Re:Actually, diesel is on the wane.... (2)

Chep (25806) | more than 13 years ago | (#195961)

Actually, in the whole EU (and that's going to be mandatory to those who ask membership too), you have to pass emission tests, every other year (the states don't have the power to override that, it's a directive).

Basically, if you don't pass, you either fix the problem (in France, you have 2 months), or you quit using that car. Simple enough, isn't it ? Only more than thirty or fourty year old cars are exempt; and you really don't see many of these outside collections.

Re:Diesels still aren't clean (3)

Chep (25806) | more than 13 years ago | (#195962)

(These new diesels are known as Clean Diesels, and are a favourite of my local bus company, which is how I know about them.)

Actually, your bus company's diesels lack the latest advancements -- a Peugeot 607 FAP (or Citroen C5 and Xsara, or -- again -- the newest Peugeot 307 FAP), are equipped with a self-regenerating particle re-burner. Basically, the thing makes the particles go through a catalyser, which eliminates them. Once every roughly 20000km, the engine's cycle is automatically tweaked, so the exhaust gases are a bit hotter for a while, which cleans the filter. You don't even notice anything.

While this new filter is currently fitted only on a single carmaker's higher level cars, you can bet that in 2 years, they'll be almost everywhere (just like the HDi/TDI/dCi/JTD engines rule the market today. Only the cheapest cars still have atmospheric [diesel] engines, and some carmakers like Fiat (owner of a famous fast expensive red car producer) seem to just sell common rail stuff these days.

My car is technically quite old ; it burns 4L/100km (of diesel), which is quite good. The next generation Peugeot/Ford[europe] low-end diesels have a target of 2.5L/100, which is quite excellent...

There are other "advances" (hmmm. Let's call that, re-advances). First is Aquazole (an emulsion of water in the diesel oil); most city bus companies use them nowadays (when they're not already burning natural gas). Aquazole is quite cool, in that the combustion is only necessary to heat the gases ; most of the mechanical energy comes from the (more or less) adiabatic relaxation of gases. It makes a lot of sense to have the strict minimum of petroleum-derived gases, and have the majority of relaxation gases being simply water vapour. When the proportion's right, the exhaust temperature is just a little above 100C, and the efficiency's at its best [*]. As Aquazole is a bit (energetically) expensive to produce, another way (which has been quite used in the aeronautic industry of the piston era) is to inject a suspension of water droplets in the cylinders just after the combustion began. Now these subsystems get a lot of attention too...

Anyway, reducing the overall fossil stuff consumed is a Good Thing. Whether the byproducts are soot, CO2, SO2, Pu, Th and whatnot, it's always dirt.

[*] unfortunately, lower temperature exhausts is diametrically opposite to the way particle filters work ; those need higher temperature exhaust gases to work efficiently. That'll certainly get worked out pretty soon, though.

(finally, the gasoline engines aren't sitting either. Common rail ("EDI/GDI/HPi"), Altivar [alternator is also an auxiliary electric engine. When you're sitting in a jam, or at a red light, you just don't burn anything] (1 or two years from Renault to market now), and electro-magnetically driven valves (dump the camshaft, and gain features like dynamically adjusting the valve cycle to better burn the combustible, or dynamically disable a few cylinders when they're not necessary, etc. Costs some electric power at high RPM, unfortunately, but counts as extremely cool in my book).

[electric engines will be cool when the batteries are able to last 200000km (not on a single charge, of course), and be produced, recharched, and recycled (ecologically) efficiently. As long as these batteries represent more polluent (concentrated in a small volume but still potentially extremely harmful) than what my Saxo will exhaust in its whole life cycle, then no thanks] [and I'm an all-out nuke fan]

Re:People should consider more efficient forms (1)

maw (25860) | more than 13 years ago | (#195963)

I heard that a human on a bike is the most energy-efficient creature in the whole of the animal kingdom. I would imagine this is dependent on a flat, hard road surface.

Nah, we're a lot faster when we're going downhill. And bumpy surfaces are a lot more fun. :)

Seriously, though, two points.

First, bear in mind that we do need to eat food in order to ride our bikes, and the food needs to be transported somehow. I don't think anybody has the numbers on how much energy is expended moving food from one place to another. I know that I'd be quite happy to buy food which I know was transported mostly by rail instead of mostly by truck.

Second, how does bike usage compare in terms of efficiency to sailboats?


--

Re:diesels (1)

maw (25860) | more than 13 years ago | (#195964)

Rail transportation is more efficient than truck transportation. To a large extent, that's due to the lower coefficient of friction of metal on metal as opposed to rubber on bitumen. Trains can also haul a lot more stuff than a truck can -- there can be trains with dozens of cars, but a truck with dozens of trailers would be a real menace.

However, it's better to transport a lot of things in one truck than a lot of things in a lot of cars! That's why busses, even though older ones (newer ones often don't use petrol or diesel) stink, are far preferable to individual cars.

As for flying things being efficient, I have read that a 747 is currently the most efficient way to move large payloads over long distances. Take that information with a grain of salt, however, since I read it at boeing.com! :)
--

Diesels still aren't clean (3)

tbo (35008) | more than 13 years ago | (#195974)

The reason diesel supporters claim they produce less soot is because the soot particles are smaller now--too small to be detected by current tests, so it seems like there's less soot, even though total soot output hasn't really changed. Unfortunately, these smaller soot particles are harder for your lungs to clear out, because they can more easily embed in the lung walls, instead of getting swept out by the natural mucous flow. Because of this, they're likely worse for you. (These new diesels are known as Clean Diesels, and are a favourite of my local bus company, which is how I know about them.)

If you Americans really want to save the environment, switch to nuclear power. Build the freaking Yucca Mountain repository, and stop worrying. You're all getting more than 50 times as much radiation from naturally-occuring radon as you are from the nuclear industry. Even if you happened to be living at the outer fence of Three Mile Island during the accident, you still only would have taken a dose equivalent to the normal naturally-occuring yearly dose (~1 milisievert). It's just not a big deal. If you still feel concerned about radiation, get your house tested for radon, and don't fly to France (flying exposes you to higher levels of cosmic radiation, and France has high levels of naturally-occuring radon).

Once you have clean electricity, electric cars actually make sense. As it is, you're mostly just moving the pollution around. (Yes, yes, I know you can produce electricity more cleanly on a large scale than you can produce power in a car, but, when you factor in transmission losses and other inefficiencies involved in electric cars, it's all about the same, so screw off).

Toyota Prius (1)

ttfkam (37064) | more than 13 years ago | (#195983)

"So who're the morons in the Marketing Depts at the car manufacturers?"

They're busy selling the Prius. Four doors, four cylinder, regenerative braking, and continuously variable transmission. $5K more you say? Well it turns out that they cost about $5K more than an Accord (~$20K).

Okay, it only gets fifty miles to the gallon. It's a start. And it's been selling in the US since summer of last year.

And no, I don't work for Toyota. But I've owned my Prius since November and it's great... Except for a lack of cruise control. That's on the 2002 models. :(

Re:do you want fries with that? .... (1)

ttfkam (37064) | more than 13 years ago | (#195984)

"Recycled" cooking oil? I think you're talking about biodiesel [biodiesel.org] . The last I heard, there was no recycling going on. They grow crops (such as the soybean) for the explicit purpose of making it. The only recycling going on is being done by Mother Earth.

It is cool though. Most people are using blends (part biodiesel, part standard diesel) because the fossil fuel is currently cheaper. Not by much, but more than enough to cut into trucking profits. Luckily, standard diesel and biodiesel mix well so the infrastructure can gradually get up to speed.

Re:Actually, diesel is on the wane.... (1)

ttfkam (37064) | more than 13 years ago | (#195985)

Catalytic converters are indeed basically useless (and even counter-productive) for very short distances, but standard diesel fuel has higher nitrogen oxide emmisions due to the high sulpher content in fossil fuel diesel. The excess sulpher makes filtering the output (what a catalytic converter does for an unleaded fuel vehicle) for NOx harder.

Biodiesel [biodiesel.org] lacks sulpher so making an emmisions filter for it is much easier. That and it's a renewable resource.

I must say that I agree with one of the other posts today; It's time for a hybrid diesel/electric vehicle. Just as long as it's biodiesel.

Re:SMOG (2)

HerrNewton (39310) | more than 13 years ago | (#195991)

Yes. I'm originally from southwest North Dakota... many of the pickup trucks my grandparents used on their farm were converted from diesels over to some sort of compressed natural gas (I have no clues as to what) in the late '70s, early '80s. Supposedly the conversions increased mileage substantially without sacrificing power (important for when you're actually using a pickup to haul things other than your ego) or increasing engine wear.

That was 20 years ago, and the retrofit could be done locally and cheaply. Give the technology the 20 years and install it from the factory---I wonder how good it would be now.

----

While this sounds good, I'm holding out for... (4)

Trumpet (42631) | more than 13 years ago | (#195994)

...major improvements in electric engines.

One of the big bitches of electric cars is (besides battery life) the poor power/weight ratio of the electric engine against the gas (petrol) engine. Also, even more damning, is the relative reliability of the gas engine. What we really need are people putting alot more effort into making a better, lightweight electric engine.

We already have the parts to build a really good hybrid gas/electric car (which, face it folks, is the only kind of low-emissions vehicle you will see for years). We have the following parts:

  • Electric engine - provides the power to move the car. Also acts as a generator when braking/coasting, thus providing extra power!
  • High-efficiency gas engine - stick in a 300-400 cc motorcycle engine. They generate several kW of power, and can run at optimal efficiency (about 4500RPM) all the time, since you're not using them to directly drive the car. And the parts are readily available, and easy to maintain (and there is a repair infrastructure already in place - your local Kawasaki dealer...) Of course, I'd really like to see us use miniature gas-turbine engines, but I don't expect to see this anytime soon...
  • Zinc-oxide batteries - the so-called "air battery" provides excellent continuous voltage and storage. You may still need a couple of lead-acid around for instantaneous bursts, but probably no more than 2 standard ones.
  • High-speed Flywheels - easily the most efficient and compact way to store energy, a flywheel made of composites can be spun at up to 100,000RPM or more to store energy. And they don't lose energy much (you could leave one spinning overnight and probably only lose a couple hundred RPM, if that). Far more efficient than batteries, these are tre-cool, too.

The Honda Inspire and the coming competition from Nissan and Toyota are OK, but face it, we need something about the size of a Honda Accord, not a Honda Civic CRX. I can't see any reason (technically) right now why someone doesn't mass-produce a converted Accord. I mean, you can use the exact same design (maybe cheat and use alluminium body panels), just with a new powertrain (with an electric engine, you should probably have a continuously variable transmission, rather than an "automatic", and definately not a "standard") and still get at least 70+ miles/gallon (that is, 30km/l).

Hell, with the $4k US tax credit for buying a low-emission vehicle, and gas here at $1.75 in the DFW Area, I'd spend $5k more for a converted Accord over a normal one, and still make out like a bandit. So who're the morons in the Marketing Depts at the car manufacturers?

Re:People should consider more efficient forms (1)

divec (48748) | more than 13 years ago | (#196000)

Second, how does bike usage compare in terms of efficiency to sailboats?
On a smooth surface, going uphill, a bike can utilise >95% of the energy you put in through the pedals. A boat is comparatively inefficient because it uses larg amounts of wind - but since there's plenty of wind, that's not a problem.

Re:Actually, diesel is on the wane.... (1)

RallyDriver (49641) | more than 13 years ago | (#196002)

Low sulphur diesel (so called "city diesel" in the UK) is now pretty universal. It's petroleum based diesel that has been treated, and while it is not as good as vegetable based fuels it beats petrol by a fair margin.

Re:While this sounds good, I'm holding out for... (1)

RallyDriver (49641) | more than 13 years ago | (#196003)

But are you also sobbing about developer salaries that average $120k? :-)

Re:Heh, my corvette gets 16 MPG (1)

RallyDriver (49641) | more than 13 years ago | (#196004)

Furthermore, your colourful language and inventive gammar lends wonderfully to your stereotype. Are you sure it isn't a Camaro?

Re:While this sounds good, I'm holding out for... (3)

RallyDriver (49641) | more than 13 years ago | (#196005)

One of the big bitches of electric cars is (besides battery life) the poor power/weight ratio of the electric engine against the gas (petrol) engine.
Also, even more damning, is the relative reliability of the gas engine. What we really need are people putting alot more effort into making a better,
lightweight electric engine.


Actually, modern electric motors have a superior power to weight ratio, and it beats an internal combustion power plant by miles once you factor in a smaller or non-existent gearbox** and not having a water cooling system. The problem is the energy density of chemical batteries versus combustible fuels; the reason most electric cars are slow is because if you made them quick the batteries would last no time at all.

** an electric motor, if appropriately designed, can develop usable torque levels over a much wider range of speeds than an internal combustion engine. It can also start from rest against a load, eliminating the need for a clutch or torque converter.

The numbers I saw for GM's electric car prototype based on the flywheel batteries suggsted that the increased weight and volume of the batteries over a gas tank was close to being an even trade for the reduced weight of the motor and cooling system, and the performance and range was half decent - 0-60mph in around ten seconds IIRC and up to 500 miles on a charge.

Actually, diesel is on the wane.... (5)

RallyDriver (49641) | more than 13 years ago | (#196006)

....in many European countries. It was a hot subject in the mid nineties, and heralded as a low pollution fuel** but the taxation in many places has increased to the point where diesel is now more expensive than petrol and thus mitigating some of the savings; fuel consumption differentials still ensure there's a chunk left though.

When diesel was hot, there was a move to increasingly high performance and larger diesels in small cars, thus eliding much of the economy value excpept on long trips - the Citroen ZX TD Volcane is a classic example - 1.9 turbo diesel, around 135 bhp in a small hatchback, makes 50 mpg* or so on the morotway but below 25 mpg* in traffic.

* Imperial gallons - US deduct 20% from those figures

** Ah yes, pollution - diesel produces a lot of unsightly smoke, but there is very little in the way of chemical pollutants, NOx etc in modern diesel exhaust. Diesel smoke is just that, smoke - it is much more environmentally friendly than the stuff you can't see that comes out of a petrol engine, cat or not - catalytic converters just don't work on short journeys. Ever smelled the (catalysed) car in front fart? That's hydrogen sulphide, and it isn't good for you.

Someone designed a wonderful system for dealing with the particulates from a diesel, which would involve placing a cotton wadding filter canister on the tailpipe - these would be washable and exchangeable at fuel stations, once per tank of fuel for a couple of dollars.

Another great thing is lean burn technology for petrol engines - great technology, no political will. There was so much political momentum behind the cat solution (not least because it came from America so must be cool) that superior alternatives got squashed.

I live in the aforesaid land of the free (Austin, TX to be exact) and yes, there is a long way to go in addressing pollution. OK, so they have cats here and people in Texas typically drive far enough for them to have an effect, but there's no emissions check whatsoever in what passes for an annual vehicle inspection in the lone star state. You can quite legally drive a 17 year old petrol Suburban (river barge disguised as a 4x4) that has the energy consumption of a small third world nation, blows more smoke than a badly tuned diesel under full load, and who knows what invisible noxious gases besides, and get away with it until the thing literally rusts apart.

The low fuel prices (petrol is literally half the price of bottled water, currently $1.35 to $1.70 per **gallon** depending on octane) and the local prediliction for having a huge-ass pickup truck as personal transportation don't exactly help - to set context for European readers, over here a Land Rover Discovery literally is a small, economical family car (and that's the 3.9 V8 petrol model, they don't even sell the diesel models).

Europeans just wouldn't understand - Texans really, truly do drive pickup trucks instead of cars, even if they rarely have a passenger and never haul a bigger load in them than a bag of grocery shopping; roughly half the *software dvelopers* in our company drive one (empty of course) to work every day. There is some concession to economy - almost none are 4 wheel drive, and a 3.8 V6 with a manual gearbox is more typical than the traditional 5.x V8 slush-o-matic, but moving a brick shape throuhg the air isn't cheap; 17 mpg US (21 mpg Imp) is considered *good*.

Re:Around here.. (1)

Betcour (50623) | more than 13 years ago | (#196007)

That's because those V8 are old-style diesel engines. Modern diesels, such as those made by VW, BMW or Peugot are very clean and efficients (thru the use of common-rail, particule filters, etc...).

Re:Actually, diesel is on the wane.... (1)

Betcour (50623) | more than 13 years ago | (#196008)

Catalytic converters are indeed basically useless (and even counter-productive) for very short distances

Actually those like the Peugot particule's filter has a system arround this problem - at low temperatures the filter stocks particules, and once it's warm enough it burns them. It's standard on the high-end model (607) and being installed on all newer lower priced models now.

Re:Toyota Prius (1)

Betcour (50623) | more than 13 years ago | (#196009)

Actually the Prius isn't very good - a diesel Peugot 206 with common rail uses about as much gas, and still has 90 hp under the hood (unlike the Prius which is a bit weak -to say the least- on power). I'm all in favor of more efficient cars but I think Toyota used the fact the US cars are highly gas-ineficient to market its Prius as a marvel of efficiency.

Um, they *are* everywhere. (2)

solios (53048) | more than 13 years ago | (#196011)

Or at least, along the major trucking arteries. In the area I grew up (north central PA), EVERY filling station had at least one Deisel pump, no less. You were shooting yourself in the face if you didn't have one. They're not nearly as common in the city, but they're around if you know where to look for them- the big freight haulers and busses run off of Deisel for exactly this reason- mileage. And it's relatively cheaper. (As in,even if it IS more expensive, the mileage difference evens out to the gas costing less per mile)

Diesel pumps. (5)

Giant Robot (56744) | more than 13 years ago | (#196013)

Until diesel pumps are everywhere, I think I'll hold out for my solar/hydrogen-fuel-cell/flywheel hybrid.

But diesel pumps are everywhere, at least near where I live (Toronto), where would many trucks get their fuel? Not many specialized diesel stations around. Almost always cheaper than regular gas, although a bit worse for the environment.

one thing the article missed (1)

Velox_SwiftFox (57902) | more than 13 years ago | (#196014)

Is that diesel fuel is more expensive than it need be is because it is taxed more heavily [taxadmin.org] by the federal government, and sometimes by the states. In Florida you end up paying over 18 cents a gallon more.

Why? Because when it looked like diesel cars would get popular a few decades ago, taxes were raised on it so that those people who conserved energy using diesel passenger cars would'nt get any tax benefit from it! I kid you not.

You see, the environmentalist organizations don't really give a damn whether or not resources are conserved or CO2 emissions reduced. No, they want to see people suffer. Until they see people's lives being screwed up, these busibodies don't feel they've done enough to force other people to do enough. How dare people presume that they deserve to be comfortable, for goodness sake!

No, this isn't trying to be flamebait. Over and over, the agenda is given away when environmental radicals, with perfectly straight faces, respond to proposals for gathering energy from sources as clean as geothermal plants with whining that supplying more energy will just keep people from "conserving energy" as they should instead, totally missing the point that the idea is to conserve the resources used in producing the amount of energy needed by society.

Instead it's conserveconserveconserve to reduce the level of comfort and prosperity people should be allowed to enjoy - can't allow them to maintain the same lifestyle simply by using resources more wisely. It's never enough to replace that 75 watt lightbulb with a 15 watt florescent that puts out the same illumination - nope, to properly conserve you have to go to a 5-watt one and squint trying to read in proper uncomfortable twilight.

Re:People should consider more efficient forms (1)

ghoti (60903) | more than 13 years ago | (#196018)

I don't know about animals, but I heard that the bike is the most energy-effecicent means of transport humans normally use (i.e., compared to cars, trams, trains, walking, etc). And I believe that. It's really very little effort to go small distances (a couple kilometers), and you're quite quick, too.

Re:People should consider more efficient forms (1)

ghoti (60903) | more than 13 years ago | (#196019)

I don't think there is a big difference in how much you eat wether you ride your bike to work or not. The bike isn't the ultimate solution to all transport problems, but for short-distance travel like in most cities or in suburbs, it's great.

Re:People should consider more efficient forms (2)

ghoti (60903) | more than 13 years ago | (#196020)

Good point! Another great form of transport is the bicycle. If you only have to go for a few kilometer/miles, the bike is the way to go. It gives you a little exercise, it's fun, and besides it's also cheap and produces very little pollution ...

Re:diesel pumps *are* everywhere (1)

Frasier (67878) | more than 13 years ago | (#196029)

Now that said, the reason many Americans don't like diesel cars is that diesel is thicker and less volatile, and thus diesel engines don't start as easily, particularly in cold climates.

That is an interesting view since here in Finland diesel is fairly popular and the temperature tends to drop below minus 30 degrees Celsius at some point every winter.

Although the popularity has much to do with regular gasoline costing a little bit over one dollar per liter and diesel only nearly half of it. The regular gas had 75% tax in it not so long ago.

Re:VW Lupo 3l (1)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 13 years ago | (#196030)

Why do you think that is better? In US, we use Miles/Gallon to calc fuel effeciency. The EU standard of Litres/100KM kinda threw me at first too. But, 100KM is about, what, 65 maybe 70 miles? And 3 litres is slightly more than a gallon. That gives your VW about 60MPG, maybe 65MPG at most.

What really chaps my ass though is this: In US, I paid, at most, about $1.25/gallon. Here in Italy, I pay around 2300 Lira/Litre...or about $3.00/gallon. The really funny thing is that during the "Summer 2000 Gasoline Crisis" in the US, my price never went up...at all!

Re:do you want fries with that? .... (1)

taniwha (70410) | more than 13 years ago | (#196032)

actually both are being used - SF just set up a public filling station that uses both. The city of Berkeley claims to be running its entire curbside recyling fleet on recyled oil

do you want fries with that? .... (5)

taniwha (70410) | more than 13 years ago | (#196033)

Here in the Bay Area a numbers of cities are running part of their fleets on diesel from recyled cooking oil - it's really wierd you go past one and it smells like fries :-) Apparently its low polluting and cheap, and the main drawback is that you need to replace all the rubber parts in your fuel system with synthetics and be carefull about changing your fuel filter more often

Diesel is not a panacea (4)

selectspec (74651) | more than 13 years ago | (#196036)

Micro carbon soot from diesel combustion in automobilies is a deadly carcinogeon and causes lung cancer. You know that lovely smell when a truck or bus drives by. Well, that's diesel. Diesel proponents say that magic "filters" can do the job, however, application of such filters reduces engine efficiency making such engines no more effiencent than gasoline. There are many new technologies on the horizon, including a high pressure combustion which works much like diesil but works with any hydrocarbon that are far better than diesel.

Diesel but better - Biodiesel (1)

gbell (84505) | more than 13 years ago | (#196042)

If diesel engines made a bit of a comeback, that'd be great. It would mean I could buy something other than a VW Rabbit or a Volvo and run it on biodiesel [veggievan.org] like the veggie van [veggievan.org] .

Biodiesel is made from used fryer oil. Cheap, less polluting than petrol-diesel, radically non-corporate (you can make it in your garage), and recycled to boot! The best thing is the tailpipe emmissions smell like french fries!

Re:People should consider more efficient forms (1)

TheQ (85276) | more than 13 years ago | (#196043)

Or if you would like to get there faster try jogging. It seems to work for me and reduces my stress levels at the same time.
TheQ

What about... (1)

pyth (87680) | more than 13 years ago | (#196046)

However, there is only one concern: price. If this biodiesel became the norm, how would its price compare to an equivalent amount of gasoline (in its norm)?

Re:VW Lupo 3l (2)

inburito (89603) | more than 13 years ago | (#196049)

3 liters is 0.792 gallons. 100 km is 62.1 miles. Actually this car did a round the world trip on an average of 2.38 liters / 100km, which is about 0.63 gallons / 62.1 miles. Flip it around and you have 98.8 mpg. Even with a more realistic 3l/100km you get 78.4 mpg.

Yes, gas in europe is a lot more expensive and I can say two primary reasons. First, there is about 300% tax on gas in europe. Second, the octane level is generally much higher than in US. In usa I fill my car up with 87 but in europe generally the normal grade is 95.. It has to be more expensive to use something that you yanks call super extra hyper premium gasoline (I've yet to see 95 anywhere in usa, 94's been the highest octane) as your normal gas.. Price for 94 versus 87 is about 50% higher..

Lack of short term price fluctuations during rapid changes in oil prices is because of the high taxes that create kind of a buffer zone where you can regulate the price to some extend. US gas prices follow the actual price of oil very closely and with little delay.

But when was the last time you actually filled up in usa? Prices are now closer to 2$/gallon in the cheap places and expensive ones are way over.. I remember two years ago filling up for 0.79$/gallon. This was cheaper at the time than the cheapest gallon of store brand water at acme.. Now you get two gallons of water for the price of one gas gallon. Water still costs the same..

Re:VW Lupo 3l (2)

inburito (89603) | more than 13 years ago | (#196050)

Sigh.. You got it off as much to the other direction.. 1 gal (US) amounts to 3.7854 liters. An imperial gallon is 4.5461 liters but that really has nothing to do with this..

SMOG (2)

Kwikymart (90332) | more than 13 years ago | (#196053)

Well, Diesel engines put more smog into the air than gasoline powered cars. However, there is actually something going on with diesel engines being able to burn natural gas... link [westport.com]

Re:nuclear power is not clean (2)

bmajik (96670) | more than 13 years ago | (#196060)

Moan moan moan. Cry cry cry.

Nuclear plants have fuel changes once every few _Years_. You can build a whole new underground complex in less time than it takes a nuclear plant to need more fuel.

You're also not keeping very up todate with reactor technology (no doubt because you're just as clueless as President Carter).

Breeder reactors can do much to alleviate the pileup of un-usable radioactive byproducts...they can use non-uranium materials and if you put the right fuel in them to begin with, they'll create further fissionable material. Infact, i once read long ago that a breeder type reactor produces enough "waste product" after 10 years of operation to start fueling an additional power plant.

IIRC this works because breeders _dont_ start with U235*, which quickly turns into boring lead. On the other hand, if you start with an element (PU244?) that has a decay series with many many more fissionalbe isotypes, you get a longer run of fuel.

#define RANT
All I can figure is that opponents of nuclear power are just looking for something to cry about. You take more radiation from a TV, a brick building, or a flight in an airplane than you do from any man made nuclear plant (that functions correctly.. and the world has seen.. what.. _1_ serious nuclear accident ?)

And as far as where to put the waste we do have ?

Pave Africa and ship it over there. I'm sick of their diseases coming across the pond--not to mention all the commercials with fly infested kids that can be fed for just 4 cents per year or whatever it is. If I'm doing my math right, the TV airtime thats ruining my evening costs a boatload more than any possible amount of donations they could take in.
#undef RANT

*Now that i think about it, i can't remember if its U235 or U238 (or 236 even?) thats used in reactors.. i remember quite cleraly that 235 was needed for weapons...but i dont remember if reactor core material was more or less straight 238 or just less "pure" 235.

nuclear power is not clean (1)

kwo (122720) | more than 13 years ago | (#196078)

Have we all forgotten about the byproduct of nuclear power: radioactive uranium. After it has lost its usefullness at a nuclear reactor it needs to be disposed of. Disposing of it right now means burying it in the ground. If not properly sealed it will leak and contaminate the environment. By the way it remains a radioactive hazard for millions of years afterwards.

I suppose if you have a big state like Nevada you can dump it there but what about other countries that don't have bountiful dumping grounds like the USA. Would you like nuclear waste burried in your county? Suddenly nuclear power seems the dirty monster that it really is.

Growing Trend ? Pah! (3)

MrDalliard (130400) | more than 13 years ago | (#196084)

I'm not entirely sure why this article states it's a 'Growing Trend'.

In the UK, diesel cars tend to be just as popular as petrol. The old Diesel Peugeot 205 I had used to get at least 55 to the gallon.

I think this just goes to show how insular the States is when it comes to seeing viable alternatives to problems.

Another fuel on the increase is LPG (gas). My Dad, over 20 years ago, had an LPG car. The conversion was fairly cheap and easy. Effectively, you had a duel fuel car (petrol/ LPG), but LPG was half the price of petrol for more or less the same economy. After successive Tory goverments, the LPG stations disappeared (the Tories didn't care about viable fuel alternatives or public transport), but recently, they've started to come back, because the price of a gallon of petrol is now so expensive in this country. The quantity of LPG stations is on the increase.

Petrol, like everything, is a finite resource. No doubt, US automobile manufacturers will only consider an alternative until the last oil well dries up.

Of course, if anyone should put a good electric vehicle my way, I certainly won't object... :-)

M.

Diesel (2)

Dungeon Dweller (134014) | more than 13 years ago | (#196087)

Well, the diesel engine from it's start was meant to be more efficient and cheaper. The designer had studied the internal combustion engine, and wanted to improve on it. The fuel can actually be MANY things (according to the design that is, not necessarily in practice with prebuilt engines). The design is ingenious, one can see why it is more efficient merely by understanding how it works. The engine in american cars works by spraying a mist of gasoline into the chamber, and then sparking an explosion. But the spark can occur at the wrong time, causing misfires, the mix of oxygen and fuel can easily be wrong... Many things can happen. A diesel engine causes it's fuel to explode by rapidly compressing it, causing the necessary reaction for explosion. This solves MANY problems, and the fuels can even be a bit more friendly to the environment. The big part of why big rigs always used it is because it's so much cheaper than gasoline. It's hard to see why it wouldn't be a winner with more people... but I can see pumping as a problem perhaps.... There's always truck stops :-)

Re:Pollution? (1)

Buran (150348) | more than 13 years ago | (#196100)

"... a smaller VW car exists, that can run more than 30 km on a single litre of diesel ..."
You refer to the Lupo. Take a look at this page [lupo80days.com] about the 3-liter Lupo TDI (we don't get it here in North America.) An excerpt:
"There are fine details of difference, both inside and outside between the normal Lupo and the three-litre Lupo. It is 150kg lighter because, in order to reduce fuel consumption, it had "to loose a bit of weight". The vehicle body is made of completely galvanized sheet steel. Aluminium was used both for the bonnet and for the doors. In addition, the tail gate consists of aluminium on the outside and magnesium on the inside. Even the heat absorbing glass is lighter. Rolling resistance is lessened by particularly light, narrow tyres which have been mounted on aluminium-forged light wheels."
Go here [lupo80days.com] for more info on the "Around The World In 80 Days On 1,000 Liters Of Fuel" challenge.

Ah, a fellow Golf driver. (2)

Buran (150348) | more than 13 years ago | (#196102)

VW is unfortunately currently the only passenger car maker still offering diesels in the U.S. (the TDI is a 1.9 liter turbo direct injection engine.) US consumers' aversion to diesels (largely brought on by the disastrous diesels of the early 1980s... don't get me started on my parents' '81 Cutlass Supreme diesel!) has led to other manufacturers' leaving the US market... Mercedes, for instance; you still see some of their diesels on the roads, but no more are being sold in showrooms.

I've got a 2000 2.0L Golf GLS (it's white, and I love it!). Just to see if I should indeed regretting not purchasing a TDI due to the 44/49 ratings, I computed the monthly payment on a TDI (on my current loan) and the 2.0L that I got because gasoline is far easier to find where I am and because the up-front cost was lower.

It turned out that the answer is no; there is no cost savings, at least on my 36-month loan, if I had done so. I pay about $490 a month; a TDI would have cost about $540 monthly. The extra $50 in monthly payments is about the same as what fuel costs, depending on how I drive and what the fuel prices are.

This goes to show that until diesels either sell closer to the cost of a standard gasoline engine, or the price of gasoline and the price of diesel diverge significantly more, many others will also decide to keep the utility and easy fuel availability of a standard gas engine. Furthermore, under current US laws, diesel fuel is higher in sulphur than the fuels available in Europe, so diesel vehicles do put out more pollution. This can be solved by better fuel-content regulations.

On the other hand, I hear the TDI gets a lot of oomph if you put an Upsolute chip in it. :)

Are you on the VWVortex.com forums [vwvortex.com] ? :)

Diesel is cheap and efficient and... (1)

BigWhale (152820) | more than 13 years ago | (#196106)

... yes... But what about diesel cars? VW Lupo 3l that was mentioned so many times is so expensive that you'd have to drive about 60.000 miles per year that investment would pay off... That's sad. Because if diesel cars were cheaper more people would have them and then it would really matter... Right now... Who knows...

BigWhale!
---------------
I never wanted to go anywhere. I'm happy here...

Diesel pumps ARE everwhere (1)

mindpixel (154865) | more than 13 years ago | (#196109)

Until diesel pumps are everywhere...

Diesel pumps are everywhere! The entire North American goods transportation system runs on diesel. All you have to do is know where the pumps are (usually on main highways entering cities). With a little planning and thought, you'll never run out of fuel.

Mercedes used to sell disel in the 'states (2)

green pizza (159161) | more than 13 years ago | (#196112)

I [heart] my 1998 Mercedes-Benz E300 Turbodiesel.

3L direct-injection inline 6. Bought it in Harlingen, Texas at Cardenas AutoPlex. With about 50% highway miles I got about 38 MPG, not bad for heavy sedan. 0-60 acceleration is not too good, about 8 seconds, but that's a damn sight better than, say, a diesel pickup truck.

Price of gas (1)

kruczkowski (160872) | more than 13 years ago | (#196113)

You have to remeber that the price of gas is crazy.

Something like $5 a gallon. Diesel is aroung $4 a gallon.

Also all the taxis are diesel.

Re:Actually, diesel is on the wane.... (1)

Gerein (169540) | more than 13 years ago | (#196119)

Europeans just wouldn't understand - Texans really, truly do drive pickup trucks instead of cars, even if they rarely have a passenger and never haul a bigger load in them than a bag of grocery shopping; roughly half the *software dvelopers* in our company drive one (empty of course) to work every day.

You're absolutly right: I don't understand that! I've been to Austin in january and will be there for the next three months and I've seen all those SUVs. Here in Germany I drive a MCC Smart [smart.com] , a car that is 2.5m long and 1.5m wide and that fits in every parking space (will be available in america next year IIRC). Those kind of cars are becoming quite popular here.
Okay, you don't have too like small cars, but why is it, that americans have to have all these big off-roader and pickups? They're loud, don't fit into parking spaces, cost a lot and suck gas faster than you can refuel...
As you said, I don't understand. That was one of the mysteries about the US remaining unlifted for me during my stay there...

Re:Diesel pumps are everywhere (1)

Dark Nexus (172808) | more than 13 years ago | (#196120)

Yes, diesel is pretty common in North America because of trucking, farming, etc.

I haven't heard of any trucks (as in the big rigs, not pickups) that AREN'T diesel, and a lot of farm and construction equipment (espeically the bigger stuff) is diesel as well.

Pity the price of diesel has doubled recently over here, but with milage like that...

Dark Nexus

Re:What about...Cost Per Mile (1)

Jumperalex (185007) | more than 13 years ago | (#196122)

Well lets see. We have heard about some gasoline cars that can get as good as 40-50 mpg right? So if biodiesal is no more than 2x the price of gasoline you effectively have no price increase per mile driven.

On the other hand I wonder how optimized that Audio A2 is or if it is more along the lines of just above average, meaning it is the diesal equivelent of the 25mpg gasoline cars we have now. that would mean biodiesel could cost as much as 3x the gasoine price and still retain an equivilent price/mile.

Special filters for that (1)

fons (190526) | more than 13 years ago | (#196124)

They now have special and very effective filters against that kind of pollution.

Not mainstream yet but the more expensive models of Citroën and Peugeot have them installed

Re:Pollution? (1)

fons (190526) | more than 13 years ago | (#196125)

LPG is also available in Belgium. Not only is it extremly cheap, since a few weeks you also get tax-cuts if you install an LPG-kit in your car.

BTW, almost every engine (diesle and gas) can be fitted with a LPG-installation (the size of the spare-wheel).

In europe we have american diesels! (1)

fons (190526) | more than 13 years ago | (#196126)

Strange to read that in America the only diesels available are VW Golf's.

Here in europe you can buy a Chrysler Voyager with a Diesel engine fitted. That's only logical because here in Belgium 90% of the voyager-like-cars are sold with diesel engines.

German diesels are great. But french cars have nice diesels too. Too bad you can't buy french cars in America.

I'm a Citroën enthousiast myself.

Re:Diesels still aren't clean (1)

fons (190526) | more than 13 years ago | (#196127)

The reason diesel supporters claim they produce less soot is because the soot particles are smaller now--too small to be detected by current tests, so it seems like there's less soot, even though total soot output hasn't really changed.

The industry is working on this problem. Citroën [citroen.com] for example uses a special Partical Filter [ukonline.co.uk] on their latest models.

Re:diesel pumps *are* everywhere (1)

seletz (192331) | more than 13 years ago | (#196131)

Hrmpf. Take the VW Golf TDI. It outruns most similar sized cars, in both acceleration and top speed. And about microparticels: Nowadays they are using filters OR burn then (i.e. particels ar no longer produced). VW built cars that run on 4 liters per 100 kilometers, and one can actually buy them (VW Lupo).

VW Lupo 3l (1)

stylewagon (197083) | more than 13 years ago | (#196137)

They used to. The new generation of turbo-diesels are actually quite clean.

More interesting than the new A2 is the VW Lupo 3l in German [volkswagen.de] or French [volkswagen.fr] - yes thats 3 litres of diesel per 100km!

VW proved their point by driving one around the world in 2000 and the average fuel used for the journey was 3 litres per 100km. Amazing

More VW Lupo 3l (1)

stylewagon (197083) | more than 13 years ago | (#196138)

From VW's Lupo80Days [lupo80days.com] site:

"Around the world in 80 days on 1,000 liters of fuel. Volkswagen sets up an incredible record with its Lupo 3L TDI, the world's first-ever 3 liters car: In 80 days this car traveled 33,333 kilometers across 5 continents using only 792,57 liters of fuel. 2,38 litters per 100 kilometers at an good average speed of 85,6 kilometers per hour has never been done before"

Wait... (1)

stylewagon (197083) | more than 13 years ago | (#196139)

The best are yet to come.

The new generation of diesel cars, whether they be common rail, turbocharged or direct injection, can offer extremely high performance with very low fuel consumption. For example, the BMW 330d has bucket loads of torque 288lb-ft at a low 3,000rpm and 184bhp - that helps make it a genuine performance diesel - try 0-100km/h in 7.2s!.

Within the next few years BMW, Audi and VW plan to add high performance diesel cars to their lineups as well as to their upper-luxury models.

On a related note BMW have also just introduced the hydrogen powered 750hL [bmw.co.uk] . Cleaner even than diesel.

Stay tuned!

Heh, FP (3)

dr_db (202135) | more than 13 years ago | (#196145)

I just wish my Audi got 78 Mpg. It uses oil at about that rate though

Re:Diesel pumps. (1)

puck01 (207782) | more than 13 years ago | (#196147)

I have to agree. I live in St. Louis in the US. Just about every gas station here sells diesel and its usually cheaper than the regular stuff.

Puck

needs a kick off (1)

GroovBird (209391) | more than 13 years ago | (#196149)

I think the price tag on fuel has something to do with this. Oil prices have been high ever since the oil crisises in the '70s and '80s, and I think that in Europe a lot of folks started to choose diesel has a cheap alternative. Granted, the engine is more expensive, but in those days the fuel was so much more cheaper. These days, the diesel is a bit more expensive, but engine performance has gone up quite well.

Dave

Re:Diesel pumps. (1)

rchatterjee (211000) | more than 13 years ago | (#196151)

Actually some stations in the SF Bay Area have been putting in diesel lately, two stations within a mile of my house have them now (i live near the SF airport). With all gas over $2/gallon here, $1.80 for diesel looks pretty good.

Pollution? (1)

GuidoJ (231456) | more than 13 years ago | (#196158)

Nowadays, diesel engines are really not more pollutive than the average petrol engines. Especially since for instance the VW Golf TDI can run for more than 20 km on 1 litre of diesel oil (a smaller VW car exists, that can run more than 30 km on a single litre of diesel). The only fuel that is less pollutive, is LPG (Liquid Petrol Gas), a byproduct during refining which is only common in the Netherlands. BTW this year, again, the American gas companies have bought a lot of petrol in Europe to prevent shortage in North America, causing prizes in Europe to skyrocket. Europeans are simply forced to look for alternatives.

TORQUE (2)

bdlinux13 (232862) | more than 13 years ago | (#196159)

I am a huge fan of American sports cars.... as soon as I can get a diesel one that can go from 0-60 in under 6 seconds, I will consider getting one.....

East Bound and Down
Proud 2000 Trans Am owner
Black/Black leather
top speed 150+
top speed I have driven it at 120
Mustang owners.. keep dreamin!

your signature (offtopic) (1)

stud9920 (236753) | more than 13 years ago | (#196164)

There are three types of people in the world; those who can count, and those who can't. http://opop.nols.com/index.sht
There are also people who can't count past 120. I guess you meant http://opop.nols.com/index.shtml

"HCCI" article in Scientific American (1)

kEnder242 (262421) | more than 13 years ago | (#196175)

too bad they dont have it in the online version http://www.sciam.com/2001/0601issue/0601quicksumma ry.html
a few links they had at the end of the article:

http://www.me.berkeley.edu/~mctai/hcci.html
http://www.ca.sandia.gov/CRF/03_facilities/03_Fa cH CCI-SCCI.html
http://www.vok.lth.se/CE/research/hcci/i_HCCI_uk .h tml

Re:Diesel is not a panacea (5)

meeder (264870) | more than 13 years ago | (#196179)

what a laugh.... have you ever seen or driven a modern european diesel car? you won't even notive it's a diesel besides the slightly higher engine noise. for the rest it drives better then petrol. much more torque at a lower rev count. for example, VW has a 1.9liter (in prehistoric measures it's 116ci) which produces 150bhp and has a torque of 310Nm (228 lb-ft) available at 1900 rpm.... do I need to say more.... and what I sayd earlier modern petrol engines which use direct injection like mitsubishi's GDI and VW's FSI engine produce about the same amount of particles as a diesel engine, but they are much smaller so the penetrate the lungs deeper....

Sure (2)

Skuld-Chan (302449) | more than 13 years ago | (#196181)

But diesel cars and trucks are responsible for a huge amout of particulate pollution too.

An even better alternative (3)

Migelikor1 (308578) | more than 13 years ago | (#196184)

Forget diesel, I want a grease powered car [greasecar.com] ! Those fancypants Detroit automakers and Texas oil drillers may think they have a hold on the American market. They may think the American people are too stupid to convert to cheaper, cleaner, more efficient technologies already proven overseas, but we'll prove them wrong. Pull up to a McDonalds and siphon some fuel from the Fry-O-Lator, that'll show 'em.

Re:VW Lupo 3l (2)

Licensed2Hack (310359) | more than 13 years ago | (#196185)

The really funny thing is that during the "Summer 2000 Gasoline Crisis" in the US, my price never went up...at all!

That's because the EPA couldn't alter the blend in Italy. The gas price hikes that happened in the USA last year, and to a point this year, are a direct result of the EPA requiring many cities to use a different blend of gasoline. The refineries cannot make the "Phase II ReFormulated Gas" as fast, plus they have to flush their entire systems out before starting to make this new gasoline to prevent contamination. The pipelines also have to flush out the pipes before this new gasoline can flow. Both requirements reduce the output, which creates an artificial shortage. Since gasoline is traded on the open market, any reduction in the supply without a corrosponding reduction in the demand will result in price increases.

The Washington Times had an article about this on July 14, 2000. The article even that an internal Energy Department memo dated June 5, 2000 says the Clinton Administration new price increases would result from their policy. I have the original article saved here and have found a link to it at a news archiver here [newsbank.com] . The link on this page to the full text was broken when I tried it but the 1 paragraph summary is accurate with the full article.

America is backward, australia has diesel pumps (1)

cb0y (311811) | more than 13 years ago | (#196190)

At every service station.

Re:Actually, diesel is on the wane.... (2)

Spy Hunter (317220) | more than 13 years ago | (#196191)

You live in America, but you call it petrol?!?!

It's gas!

And you call a freeway a "motorway" too. You'd better switch over before you start getting a Texas accent - it would just be wrong to hear a guy with a Texas drawl talking about petrol and motorways :-)

Re:diesels (1)

cheinonen (318646) | more than 13 years ago | (#196192)

They can charge you that much for diesel because they control the market and you will pay it. The stuff also doesn't have to be refined well because they bought off the republican half of the government and prevented them from enforcing any new standards for at least 5 years.

I don't care if I get flamed for this, but we should be paying $3+ a gallon for gas because otherwise, people aren't going to change their driving habits at all. If people were really worried about the price of gas they would buy a car that got decent mileage instead of an SUV that has a high center of gravity, can't go off-road, and gets 10 MPG because the thing looks cool. I don't feel a damn bit of shame for people paying a ton for gas now, I do as well, and you know what, I just drive less. I drive myself to class, to the grocery store, and that's about it. I don't drive to someplace like Barnes and Noble anymore just to read books because it's going to cost me $2-3 in gas alone for the trip there and back, and I don't spend that money now unless I have to.

I don't think that semi's are bad, they are probably the most efficient way to move large payloads and do the least environmental damage of the options. Can you imagine the cost of food if they had to fly it in instead of trucking it? However, before people expect me to give a damn that they are paying $3 a gallon for gas, look at the car you are driving, look at the public transportation options, and try driving less.

Around here.. (1)

Liquid-Gecka (319494) | more than 13 years ago | (#196194)

You know, in Twin Falls, Idaho (Farming town) Desil is very popular, though not for its fuel efficnency.. There are lots of huge V8 Super Charged desil trucks all over the place. One thing about desil is that its anything but nice to be near when its burning. The exaust on these things is a really thick black smoke and they smell absolutly NASTY!

Diesel pumps *are* everywhere... (1)

dos (415274) | more than 13 years ago | (#196200)

Where do you think all those trucks that haul the majority of our nation's goods get fuel? Anywhere there is business, there will be Diesel. Unless you're a *long* way from the nearest highway, there is a Diesel pump nearby.

Can you say "biodiesel"? (5)

(-)eretic (444633) | more than 13 years ago | (#196201)

The article forgot to mention the fact that diesel engines can run on biodiesel [biodiesel.org] , a renewable fuel made from vegetable oils like soybean oil or -- dare we say it -- hemp oil. Biodeisel is technically superior to regular diesel in many ways; cleaner to burn, cleaner to produce, better for the engine, economically feasible, with equivalent performance characteristics.

Check out the hemp car [hempcar.org] , a Mercedes Benz touring the U.S.A using hemp-based biodiesel. Hemp is such a great plant, it's a shame the D.E.A won't let us grow it!

Biodiesel could be the next great thing, outside of the US of course. Plus it helps out the farmers of this country that have been struggling to make ends meet.

It's time for the USA to take the lead in adopting new transportation technologies, and time to ditch the gasoline engine. Unfortunately, with the ExxonMobil Bush/Cheney team in command, it's gonna get worse before it gets any better.

diesels (1)

Libertarian001 (453712) | more than 13 years ago | (#196210)

Frankly, I don't give a rip if my TDI Jetta puts out more particulate pollutants than a conventional car. I average almost 50mpg. Compare that w/ some jack ass in an SUV getting 15mpg. Which one of us is harming the environment more? Which one of is using up more natural resources? And considering that a Diesel is basically a "Mr.Fusion" (Back to the Future 2), meaning that it'll run on just about any Carbon bi-product, the engines would probably burn cleaner if the refineries would bother to refine it to a level beyond Kerosene. And that they have the nerve to charge as much for this un-refined Petroleum just pisses me off. Supply and demand, right? Guess what, if it wasn't for Semi trucks, every city in the US would be out of food in under 2 weeks. How's that for supply and demand. Friggin' Oil companies. Damn OPEC. And for all you who hate GW, just remember, Gore helped open up the US Strategic Oil Reserve to a select few Oil companies, including one he owns an awful lot of stock in (no conflict of interests here, move along). Read his book to find out what else he thinks of energy issues. Try $3.50 at the pump for gasoline. And how about wanting to ban the internal combustion engine? How he managed to get the support of the United Auto Workers is beyond me.

Re:BLah (1)

Libertarian001 (453712) | more than 13 years ago | (#196211)

I whole-heartedly agree, except for the "VW if you're on a budget..." I paid ~$21K for my '01 VW Jetta TDI. It's the most expensive car in its class, by several thousand. But I love it and I actually get better milage than the sticker says, even with a full load. The big reason Diesel has never been real popular in the US is because during the mid-70's(?) GM(?) tried to make a Diesel car. Anyone who knows anything about cars knows that the typical compression ratio for gasoline engine is ~11-14:1. Diesel's require ~18:1 compression. So what happens when you build a Diesel engine that uses gasoline engine quality parts? That's right, things blow up. So because GM has a bunch of morons in the penny-pinching department, Diesel's got a bad rap.

Re:diesels (1)

Libertarian001 (453712) | more than 13 years ago | (#196212)

I have an '01 TDI Jetta. It's awesome. I originally was looking at getting an Audi A4 Quattro.

Re:Diesel (1)

Libertarian001 (453712) | more than 13 years ago | (#196213)

Rudolf Diesel's mentallity in designing the Diesel engine was the exact opposite of the mentallity everyone else was exhibiting. This includes Thomas Edison, who Diesel worked with for a while. Edison's philosophy was to just keep plugging away until they came up with something that worked. Diesel's philosophy was to look at an ideal Rankine Cycle/heat engine, and to try to get as close to it as possible. Incidentally, don't imply that the only engines in American cars are gasoline, or that only American cars use gasoline. I've travelled to 14 countries outside of the US (all in Europe & MidEast), and everyone ese uses gasoline as well.

Why I wouldn't buy a diesel car (2)

BrodyVess (455213) | more than 13 years ago | (#196219)

I drove a 1980 Ford f250 diesel truck for a while. After having it, I think I'll leave the diesel for big trucks, and stick with gas for my cars. The problems I had with diesel were 1) fuel avalibility. Everywhere had a pump, but usually only 1, most of the time it was seperate and uncovered, and usually in bad shape. This was in Texas, where diesel trucks ARE common. If it rained, you didn't have the luxury of an island, but were stuck on some unlit corner of the station getting soaked. Those that did have a diesel pump in line with the rest of the gas pumps I often found it occupied by a car getting regular gasoline, and have to wait until they were finished to get my diesel. 2) Noise. My truck was freakin loud. I've ridden in diesel cars (most notably a Mercedes) and while they were better, still had a noticible diesel "knock." Nothing says "Hello Mom, I'm breaking curfew." quite like a diesel engine pulling into the driveway late. If my windows were down it was quite unbearable in towns where the noise would bounce off buildings. 3) Performance. My current vehicle is a Datsun pickup with a 92 horsepower I-4 engine. However, it feels like a racecar compared to the 6.9L V-8 diesel in my old truck. The truck had plenty of pulling power, but was slow as christmas. I like my cars to have ooomph, mileage be damned. Now there were some good things about that truck- we sold it with 240,00 miles on it 4 years ago, and it now has well over 300,00 on it, and the person we sold it to is still using it as a work truck. Other than a starter going out I never had any mechanical problem with it. However, until I can get a quiet car with acceleration more like my Camaro than my pickup, I'll stick with gasoline.
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