Can Clean Diesel Compete in an Electric-Drive World?

Hybrid gas-electric cars dominate Kelley Blue Book’s latest list of the most fuel-efficient vehicles. It’s no surprise that six cars in the top 10 list, released this week, are hybrids and two are small cars—the Mini Cooper and Honda Fit. But the two clean diesel offerings—one from Volkswagen and one from BMW—almost escape notice.

With dozens of new hybrids expected in the next couple of years, and the buzz (and government support) going to cars that can plug into the grid, will clean diesel vehicles be left in the zero-emissions dust?

Not exactly, if you consider that the 2010 Volkswagen Golf TDI packs a powerful punch of low-end torque and delivers an estimated 42 miles to the gallon. The base MSRP is $22,000, making the Golf TDI one of the most compelling mpg-per-dollar options. The hard line economics of the 2010 BMW 335d are not quite as compelling, but plunk down twice the dollars on the 6-cylinder diesel Bimmer to get almost twice the horsepower, and a lot more luxury. The BMW 335d is officially rated at 36 mpg on the highway and 27 in the city.

While Nissan, General Motors and other car companies are heavily betting on an electricity-powered automotive future, Volkswagen is banking on clean diesel. According to the Boston Herald, VW is projecting that up to 30 percent of its new sedan’s sales will be clean diesel vehicles, and that mainstream consumers, not necessarily willing to go hybrid or electric, will turn to diesel. In March, almost 7,000 of VW’s 22,000 sales in the US were diesels, said VW spokesman Christian Buhlmann. “One month, it’s a quarter. One month, its a third.”

Environmental Economics

Diesel vehicles carry a cost premium and diesel fuel currently sells, on average, for $0.20 more per gallon than gasoline. These additional costs are offset by better fuel economy, and federal tax credits. The VW Golf TDI automatic qualifies for a $1,700 tax credit, while the BMW 335d fetches $900. (Tax credits for most of the popular hybrids have expired, while the feds are giving a whopping $7,500 on electric cars, when they become available late this year.)

Honda had plans to offer a diesel vehicle put canceled. The only Japanese automaker planning to bring a diesel-powered sedan to the US is Mazda, probably sometime in 2012.

Only time will tell if individual consumers begin to adopt clean diesel vehicles in greater numbers—especially as electric-drive vehicles grow in popularity. In the meantime, diesel technology advocates are working to make sure that the nation’s heavy-duty trucks don’t make a shift from diesel to another alternative fuel receiving a lot of attention: natural gas.

“There is a reason today that diesel powers the overwhelming majority of the nation’s commercial trucking, school, and transit bus fleets,” said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum. “Diesel’s unmatched combination of availability, safety, energy efficiency, and economical operation and performance have made it the technology of choice.” Compared to natural gas, Schaeffer believes that clean diesel delivers clear economic benefits “with an ever-smaller climate and environmental footprint” as low-carbon diesel fuel comes online as predicted.


  • Kei Jidosha

    Clean diesel and Electric drive are at opposite ends of the market answer to pollution and energy policy. However, diesel has a reputation to overcome.

    My sister and I are both looking for new cars. I currently am driving a MINI E and am looking at the Nissan LEAF. The E works great for me in Los Angeles. Lots of local driving in an area with opportunity charging from the CARB legacy sites.

    But my sister in Washington DC takes public transportation much of the time, then drives hundreds of highway miles on the weekends to visit friends and relatives. For her, BEV’s have insufficient range. Hybrids offer little benefit on the highway for the price, and her parking structure has no assigned spaces or power to benefit a Plug-in.

    So I made the mistake of suggesting she look at the VW TDI, and got lectured on life with her last two diesels (Buick and Peugeot). “Why would I want another car that is difficult to refuel, hates the cold, is expensive, noisy, slow, and smells bad?

    Why indeed?

  • Anonymous

    22K for a 3-door vehicle is too much. For another 1K, we can get Prius which is 5-door vehicle, offers 50 MPG and also gasolene costs 20 cents less / gallon.

    I think smaller and affordable hybrids along with Plugins and EV’s will take a bigger bite of the market while the Diesel-Hybrid trucks and buses will dominate the heavy vehicle segment.

    Anyway VW is doing good with Diesels, let me do it as they want.

  • FamilyGuy

    Diesel comes from oil. Oil WILL run out. The diesel concept is going down a dead end street. Sure, I’m interested in the 30 MPG city and 42 MPG highway (or what ever it is for the Jetta Sports Wagon). But we all know that oil will run out and it will get very expensive as it does.

    Electric, on the other hand, has many means of being generated. Sure coal is the primary right now and that will run out. However, there is wind and water and nuclear and solar.

    I like the idea of options in higher MPG cars, but I don’t just see the point in investing tons of research into diesel at this point.

  • ex-EV1 driver

    Lipstick on a pig.
    Why bother trying to improve this unsustainable technology unless a viable bio-fuel is found. Let’s focus our efforts to look for sustainable energy.
    Diesel is ok today, for those applications where a fuel must be carried but even it should be with the more efficient hybrid drivetrain, preferably plug-in if connection to the grid is usually possible as with consumer transportation. All these direct injection and other techniques to offset the weaknesses of the ICE should be put on a shelf. The hybrid drivetrain does this. Diesels should be used but only in the constant load regime in which they work most efficiently.

  • Gary Reysa

    Hi,
    When you guys compare diesels to gasoline cars I wish you would make a point of ALWAYS including carbon emissions as well.

    The diesel fueled cars get better mileage in part because the fuel has a higher energy content per gallon than gasoline, and this also means it has a higher carbon content and higher CO2 emissions. Anyone interested in how clean the car is in addition to how economical it is will want to know this.

    Gary

  • Samie

    I agree with FamilyGuy and ex-EV1 driver but diesel is still an option for luxury performance vehicles, for now…

    Like FamilyGuy said oil will run out and with EV’s we have multiple inputs to use. What alarms me the most is the potential for high oil prices in our manufacturing (including plastics), food networks, and freighting industries. Global economics and trade (like it or not) is dependent on cheap petro supplies because there are complex webs of energy being used in this process.

    Moving at least passenger vehicles towards electrification is smart because we need to be careful about other parts of our economy that are extremely reliant on petroleum. The push to more electric vehicles soon may be championed by major global corporations to conserve oil for other uses. This seems unlikely now but I would not be surprised to see this push develop as cars like the Leaf gain mainstream acceptance.

  • Yegor

    I think Clean Diesel is great! It just has to be combined in a Hybrid or a plug-in Hybrid. Clean Diesel is 30% more efficient than a regular gas engine. It is not a regular Diesel, it is a CLEAN Diesel – it has a low emission otherwise it would not pass emission standard. Now imagine putting one into Prius and you will get 65 MPG! It will be good in Chevy Volt too.

  • ex-EV1 driver

    Gary Reysa,
    Carbon emissions almost always go down as vehicle efficiency or mpg increases. This is especially true when comparing liquid petrochemicals such as gasoline and diesel fuel. Certainly, natural gas has less carbon emissions since it is mostly methane, which is mainly hydrogen which combines with oxygen to form H2O, not the carbon to CO2, of which liquid fuels contain a lot.
    Plug-in vehicles have the advantage that they can produce zero carbon emissions if the electricity comes from renewables (as mine does) or little carbon if from natural gas. From coal, they produce about the same emissions as a gasoline hybrid.

  • TDIczar

    These EPA rating are really deceiving. My 2010 TDI Golf manual gets consistently 50+ mpg in a daily commute that is 70% city.

  • Shines

    Another negative for US consumers is that many gas stations do not sell Diesel. So here’s my (shallow) thought process: If I buy a diesel then I have to think about where I am going to have to buy my fuel. If I buy electric I have a plug right in my own home.
    and here is another EV refueling thought: When I go to the grocery store I park in a recharge stall – I swipe my (you name the chain) club card plug it in and as long as I spend at least $20 or $50.00 (or what ever) buying groceries the charge is free. This already exists at some stores for gas purchases (spend $50.00 get 10 cents a gallon off). This is just another example of how close to reality the infrastructure for EV refueling exists.

  • Charles

    Clean diesel is not as clean as today’s popular hybrids. For example, the VW at an EPA combined 34 MPG, puts out more carbon compared to a Prius, Fusion Hybrid, or a Honda Fit. The VW beats the fit in MPG (34 vs 31), but the Fit wins the CO2 contest. The VW and the Fit are bin 5 polluters, the hybrids make it to the cleaner bin 3. If you care about smog, there is a significant difference between bin 5 and 3.

    You would need to drive about 2/3 of the time on the highway for the VW to tie the Fusion Hybrid for MPG, and almost all highway for the CO2 to be even. There is no time that the VW beats the Prius in MPG or CO2.

    Clean diesel is not nearly as big a lie as clean coal, but it is not anywhere close to as clean as a good gas hybrid.

  • usbseawolf2000

    If you get 50+MPG in 70% city commute, imagine what you’ll get with a hybrid. I would say 70+MPG.

  • Crusading Engineer

    Diesel does not have to come from oil. The original diesel engines used a biodiesel made from vegetables. In fact many diesels today can be converted to run on biodiesel with a minor modification.

  • veek

    It would be a safe bet the VW (with its sport suspension) will be more fun to drive than any existing hybrid, if any forum readers can ever call driving “enjoyable” ;-} It is one of many considerations in a purchase decision.

    Fuel savings are only one part of the economics picture. Out-of-warranty repairs will probably be more costly and frequent for the Beemer and V-dub than for any true hybrid, given traditional Consumer Reports ratings for European cars (your mechanic may probably say the same). Holding on to fuel-efficient cars for longer times ( which means past the warranty expiration) is one way to reduce environmental impact, so this should be a consideration.

    The Mazda diesel sounds worth waiting for — it may combine Mazda’s enjoyability and dependability with diesel fuel economy. Hope it’s an MX-5 diesel! That would be great.

  • ex-EV1 driver

    Crusading Engineer,
    While I agree that vegetable oil or its derivatives can run in a diesel engine, it takes a lot of resources (land, water, fertilizer) to grow the crops to produce the diesel fuel. When I look at how much fuel we consume as a planet (and country even more so), It doesn’t look like we have sufficient resources to grow vegetables for both our transportation and our food consumption.
    Solar electric energy is a much more efficient means of harvesting sunlight, takes no water, less land, and the land can be essentially uninhabitable (If we can get the psychopathic Sierra Club out of the picture). Wind can be harvested on the same land as crops are growing for food. There is enough of these electricity producing resources in the world to easily provide for our transportation while still leaving the arable land for growing our food.

  • KMCoates

    Whoa. Quite a bit of misinformation and/or unsubstantiated negative opinions here. Let me address a few (more info is at http://www.cleandieseldelivers.com and http://www.dieselforum.org):
    Diesel availability: more than half of stations carry diesel (the EV at home plug is as much of a negative as positive as it just reinforces how you’re tethered to a short leash and that charging infrastructure other than slow home-charging doesn’t exist yet).
    Carbon emissions: Check out CARB (not exactly diesel enthusiasts). Their study of full-cycle fuel emissions shows diesel more than 20% less CO2 per mile than gasoline.
    Bottom line: we need to do all we can to improve the fuel efficiency of vehicles while the EVs and PHEVs are coming to market (and they are) so we keep moving the needle while we wait for more effective solutions. To ignore the advantage clean diesel brings to the equation is to say we would just as soon keep emitting more CO2 until the perfect solution comes along.
    Oh, and the Golf also comes in a 4-door for roughly the same $. And Jei, if your sister actually drove a Jetta, I could pretty well guarantee she’d quickly forget the old Buick and Peugeot diesels, which most people under 40 don’t even know existed–thankfully.

  • Dom

    Hmm, a clean diesel was the winner at at World Green Car this year:

    http://green.autoblog.com/2010/04/01/new-york-2010-vw-bluemotion-brand-wins-2010-world-green-car/

    I think it can compete. For long range highway trips a diesel is a much better match than electric/hybrids. I think the market has room for both, as they both have strengths and weaknesses. You guys are biased because you love your hybrids and electrics and have been sold on the technology. I’m bias as I drive an 03 Golf TDI, and it’s an amazingly usefully, fun (TDI+manual tranny = fun to me), and fuel efficient car, and I’m sold on the technology.

    I really dislike when the government picks technology to push. Let the market do its own choosing. I’m glad the clean diesels get a tax credit along with the hybrids, but I don’t think the plug-ins deserves such a hugh credit. I’d rather the government not give credits at all.

    I hope the author is right about the people that don’t want a hybrid will start buying diesels instead.

  • Ralph

    Gary Reysa above is right — what’s usually missing from discussions of gas vs diesel is that they’re not directly comparable on an MPG basis because it takes more crude oil to make a gallon of diesel than a gallon of gas.

    The Union of Concerned Scientists has been pleading for “fuel neutral” fuel economy standards for years, and suggests reducing MPG ratings for diesel vehicles by 20% when comparing them with gas-powered cars. That takes a big bite out of the efficiency of diesels, at least from the perspective of dependence on foreign oil and ecological issues.

    Here’s what the UCS says: http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_vehicles/technologies_and_fuels/gasoline_and_diesel/the-diesel-dilemma-diesels.html

    Make fuel economy standards truly “fuel neutral.”
    Since Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards give credit to vehicles based on fuel economy rather than oil use, and a gallon of low-sulfur diesel fuel requires 25 percent more oil than a gallon of low-sulfur reformulated gasoline, putting more diesel vehicles on the road without also raising fuel economy standards could actually increase U.S. oil dependence. CAFE standards should, at a minimum, compare gasoline and diesel on an energy-equivalent basis.

  • grasspress

    for anyone who’s interested:

    i bought the 2010 golf tdi and took delivery in jan 2010. i have done consistently the same driving since i first bought it (a half-n-half combination of around town driving and interstate commutes of 50-60 miles with occasional trips of 100+).

    i set the trip odometer each time i do a fill-up, and i don’t fill the tank until it’s nearly empty. i have done this on each refueling.

    my history of gas mileage in this vehicle under the conditions i just outlined has been steadily improving, from 38+ mpg early after my purchase to the last one i just did today which was 45+ mpg.

    i am (so far) totally impressed with this vehicle. i like it’s interior finish, it’s sporty handling, and it’s (continually improving) gas mileage.

    thanks for reading and ‘no, i don’t work for the company’.

  • ex-EV1 driver

    Dom and Dieseldude,
    While I pretty much agree with everything both of you say, I’d like to counter some of your conclusions:
    - availabilty: True, diesel is available in many places, however, not in California where there is probably a bias on this forum. Contrarily, public EV chargers are plentiful in CA, outnumbering EVs about 100:1
    - Infrastructure: you’ll find that installing a fast charger costs about as much as installing a streetlight. This isn’t going to be a tough process fo society to handle. Slow (Level II) chargers cost a little less than it costs to install an air compressor for filling tires at a gas station. This can easily be done in places where people spend time such as work, recreation facilities, shopping centers. They will last for decades with little or no maintenance. This is nothing compared to the cost of digging up gas tanks every few years for hazmat remediation at gas stations.
    - Better: granted, diesels are better than gasoline. But I’ll reiterate what Familyguy says: They still use oil based fuel and it’s going to run out. 20% less consumption will only postpone the inevitable 20% longer.
    - I don’t advocate consuming more CO2 while waiting for the perfect solution. One near-perfect solution is here, folks just refuse to put it into production for various reasons.
    - Fun: Dom, clearly, you’ve never driven an eBox, a Mini-E, a Tesla, or even an EV1. Sure, manual tranny’s are fun. So is stoking the burner on a steam engine. Driving an EV with aggressive regen and excessive torque is a hoot as well. You need to try it some time.
    - I agree that a level playing field would be great. If anyone knows of a way to level a playing field where it costs $billions to put an affordable vehicle on the road in order to compete with pig-headed, single technology incumbents, I’m all ears. In the mean time, the only options I see are:
    1) the slow route (which I guess is how we got our ICE vehicles) like Tesla originally planned on doing, starting with unaffordable cars and working down slowly as the business grows.
    2) government subsidies to offset the government regulations that keep competition out.

  • ex-EV1 driver

    I’ll provide an experience story similar to gasspress for the EV for anyone who’s interested:

    i bought the 2008 Tesla Roadster and took delivery in April 2009. i have done lots of different types of driving since i bought it (daily 80 mile round-trip mostly interstate commutes, occasional 100+ mile trips, one 1000 mile trip, one 800 mile trip, one 500 mile trip.)

    i sometimes set the trip odometer each time i do a fill-up since i fill-up every day and seldom run the ‘tank’ down to empty. i’ve only been to a gas station a few times, to put air in the tires and buy a soda.

    my history of gas mileage in this vehicle under the conditions i just outlined has made a big jump this January, when I turned on the 5.5kW solar array on my roof, from initial infinite mpg (about 21% renewable, 69% natural gas and nuke, and 10% coal) early after my purchase to the last one i just did today which was infinite mpg (with 100% solar offset to the already low carbon mix). There has yet to be a drop of oil that has gone to fuel my vehicle. FWIW, i passed the 20,000 mile mark at about the 1 year point.

    i am (so far) totally impressed with this vehicle. i like it’s interior finish (which has nothing to do with the energy source/engine type), it’s sporty handling (NOTHING beats it up to about 90 mph), and it’s (impossible-to-improve) gas mileage.

    thanks for reading and ‘no, i don’t work for the company’.

    :-)

  • KMCoates

    Ralph,
    The 20% # from UCS is off. I agree you can’t just compare fuel economy numbers, but based on CARB/UC Berkeley research diesel has a 22% advantage compared to gasoline in CO2 because of engine efficiency and fuel energy density. See p.31-http://www.arb.ca.gov/fuels/lcfs/lcfs_uc_p2.pdf. California’s low carbon fuel standard recognizes these numbers.
    Ex EV1 Driver,
    Not sure where you are in CA, but 50% of stations in the state carry diesel according to the state’s accounting.
    And just to reinforce your point, solutions that are not in production (as diesel cars are) are not here.
    Oh, and I’ve driven many EVs and agree–they do not lack on the fun factor! Even a NEV can be a blast around town. It’s going to take every tool we’ve got to keep moving the needle on GHG reduction.

  • nycsolar

    EX-ev1 driver. You are awesome!

  • ex-EV1 driver

    Dieseldude,
    re: “And just to reinforce your point, solutions that are not in production (as diesel cars are) are not here.”

    Too true but real solutions will never be here if we keep accepting (including purchasing and voluntarily promoting) what the auto manufacturers want us to accept. That pretty much means it’s going to have an ICE, a transmission, require a lot of maintenance, and be built in one of their existing factories with minimal investment.

  • KMCoates

    The options are coming (though they’ll still have transmissions, I believe, and still need maintenance). The market’s a big enough tent so we can keep reducing petroleum use and GHGs and rely on ICEs while EV market share has a chance to grow. This stuff doesn’t happen overnight–remember it took the Prius and other hybrids 10 years in the US (plus three more in Japan) to reach the stage it’s at today, part of 3% of the overall market (hybrid share). That’s with government incentives and heavy promotion.

  • ex-EV1 driver

    They are definitely coming but will need user pressure since the manufacturers (except Fisker and Tesla) are clearly not behind them, just as they are reluctantly allowing a few hybrids (complete with ICE, tranny, regular maintenance, and minimal investment [witness Honda: dump the batteries in behind the rear seat]) on the road today.
    The Leaf, Volt, iMiev, Fisker, and Model S won’t have transmissions and, with the possible exception of the Volt and Fisker, will have minimal maintenance short of tires.
    I’m not sure where the heavy promotion has been until very recently. There certainly have been some consumer pressured government incentives.

  • greenearthautoservice

    As a Diesel and Hybrid mechanic I am fascinated by this often misinformed topic. Diesels are so much cleaner than gas engines now, especially now that they can operate in closed loop using glow plugs that double as cylinder pressure sensors (think oxygen sensors for diesel). Everyone quotes co2, but what about nox and co? Those do the damage. If we replaced 50% of passenger vehicles on the road with the diesel equiv, it would reduce our use of oil by 1.5 million gallons per DAY. If we replaced the same amount of vehicles with hybrids, we would be upwards to 1.8 million barrels a DAY. If we talked the car manufacturers into making gas and diesel powered hybrids, we would be over 2.5 million barrels per DAY saved.

    Myth – diesels are dirty. Turbos took care of that. Black smoke means not enough air. same thing it means on a gas engine

    Myth – Diesels are finicky in the cold weather. Only if they are broken! I have a bunch of friends running diesel in Alaska. The gas cars of their friends have more problems than theirs

    Myth – Diesel fuel is hard to find. If you live on the moon! It is at over 65% of the stations in California, and at the other end of the country it is closer to 80. And don’t think for a minute if the demand was there that they wouldn’t get the pumps out. Diesel vehicles are also very flexible in fuel composition. I have run a new Ford Diesel truck on Transmission fluid for fuel before and it ran great!

    Myth – Diesel is more expensive so it must take more to make. It is a byproduct of making gasoline (more or less) and takes less than half the energy to process because it is so much simpler.

    Myth – Diesel is noisy and smelly. Once again, if it is broken.

    Myth – Diesels are more expensive. Not if you amortize them over 200,000 miles. The fact that people are too lazy to keep their vehicles fixed so they trade them in at 70,000 miles is their own fault. And frankly if you keep a gas or diesel vehicle in good shape for 200k, you wouldn’t notice significamt per mile costs on either!

    Myth – Diesels are slow. See european racing with their 10,000 rpm diesel engines that are smoking everything else out there. Or go drive a VW TDI, especially with a standard transmission. I autocrossed a turbodiesel bug a few times and did very well and had fun!

    So, in conclusion, don’t let the manufacturers dictate to you what is best because it bolsters THEIR profits. Think for yourself!

  • Barry

    Kei, I currently own two Jetta TDI’s, a 2001 Jetta TDI and a 2004 Jetta TDI. Your assumption that diesel cars of today are difficult to fuel, hate the cold, are noisy and smell bad is false. I wouldn’t own a diesel car if that was the case. Modern diesel cars of today are not the Buick and Peugeot of the past. Yes, the Buick diesel was a bad experiment.

    Fueling a diesel car today is no different than fueling a gas car. Most fueling stations have diesel pumps for light vehicles. This makes a big difference. No more mammoth fuel hoses and big diesel truck fuel nozzles to deal with at the pump.

    My Jettas are both very quite. In fact, diesel cars are just as quiet as most modern day gas burning cars on the market today. On the highway, I would bet you couldn’t tell my Jetta’s are diesels.

    My TDI’s are not hard to start in the winter months. In ten years of driving my 2001 Jetta TDI I’ve never had the car not start in cold weather. I’ve never had problems with fuel gelling. I can remember some days where the outside temperature was well below zero and the car started right up. Cold winter start ups are just not a problem unless you live in Siberia.

    My 2001 Jetta TDI has a 90 HP engine and yes it’s not a race car. But, I knew that when I bought it. Since 2001, my average fuel efficiency has been 47.6 MPG. My car has 225,000 miles on it. It looks great and runs great. Yes, the timing belt needs changed every 100,000 miles but other than that I’ve only had to replace the servo motor for the return air, had a MAF sensor replaced and had to have the engine mounts replaced at 214,000 miles.

    Although I haven’t owned my 2004 Jetta TDI as long as my 2001, I can say the 2004 is just as nice. It has 135,000 miles on it and runs great. The 2004 has a 110 hp engine and does have a quicker response when you mash the peddle. The pay off is that the fuel efficiency of my 2004 is only 43.4 MPG during the course of it’s life so far. It’s the price you pay for being able to chirp the tires when you push the peddle harder than you need to.

    In closing, I think you should consider a modern diesel car. Until electric cars come on the market that are more affordable modern diesel cars are a good choice for those looking for high fuel efficiency. I would love to see a diesel electric hybrid car someday but I think cost would be too much of a trade off. By the way, I’m a nurse by profession and don’t work for VW or the diesel industry.

  • RonBham

    One thing many people don’t seem to consider is that VW also has spotty reliability and doesn’t offer an extended warranty (except for a dismal secondary company’s ext. warranty they try and push on you when you buy and which has lots of documented complaints of denied coverage). If you drive 16 miles to work everyday like I do then an extended warranty is a must. I average 23K a year so would use up a 36K warranty in less than 2 years. Also, the new Hyundai Sonata hybrid (released later in 2011) will average 39 hwy (!) and 36 city.

  • wooac

    I wish VW would sell it’s TDI T5 Eurovan in the U.S. It’s a minivan/camper which gets 35mpg (diesel). My Honda Odyssey gets less than 20mpg.

  • bruno
  • DrivingIsFun

    Why bother, because a TDI is still fun to drive. Having fun in a Prius turns 50 mpg to under 20.

  • astroeng

    Actually, if you read the government studies on the topic, diesel vehicles have a well-to-wheels carbon footprint equivalent to hybrid cars in the same size class and far lower than traditional gas engines. Yes the carbon content is higher in diesel, but it takes far fewer gallons (~30%) to go the same distance and the refining process is far less energy demanding.

    P.S. The EPA MPG estimates for diesel vehicles are understated due to changes in how the EPA estimates fuel consumption. The EPA acknowledges that diesel vehicles are “penalized” by about 20%. See the FuelEconomy gov’t website for more info. Actual performance numbers for the Jetta/Golf TDIs are closer to 38/45 city/hwy.

  • Aleksandr Shik

    I have VW Jetta TDI 09 and let me tell you that since 2009 all VW diesels have changed:

    It’s not difficult to refuel because every other gas station offers diesel
    It starts easily in the cold with no problem. (they have preheated phase for about 10 seconds prior the start of the engine…
    It’s as expensive as Toyota Prius.
    Most of my friends and people that were ridding with me didn’t know if it was diesel until I told them because the noise level was reduces a lot.
    Slow? not anymore… From 0 to 60 it does almost the same as Jetta 2.5
    For 1.5 years I didn’t smell a thing from my Jetta!

    All your comment would fit all old diesels but not anymore for all 2009 and higher diesel models.

  • Jon Tellez

    The experiences you speak of comes from traditional diesel. With new clean diesel, fuel is widely available, will start without warming up glow plugs in the middle of winter, is priced the same as hybrids, much quieter than before, produce more hp and torque than any hybrid in its class therefore faster, and has no odor in the exhaust. Sounds like someone needs take a second look at clean diesel technology. Take into consideration the cost of ownership, as well as the need to replace the hybrid batter as well as disposal.

  • Jon Tellez

    First, Golf is available in a 5 door just like the prius for only 600 more, not 1000. The 2.0 clean diesel tdi has a Guiness Book Record of 58.82 mpg which equates to a better value mileage-wise Lets also take into consideration the cost of ownership and the fact that 85% of hybrid owners trade their vehicles in before the warranty on the battery expires. This means they have to replace the vehicle therefore taking a heavy depreciation loss. Most TDI owners hold on to their vehilce until it dies.

  • steve d

    Well its obvious your sister is uneducated about clean diesels. Most of her complaints listed no longer apply to modern diesels.

  • steve d

    hybrids are stupid. they are expensive. And then you have to replace the battery when it dies which will cost you alot. Clean diesel is much better.

  • Angie T

    I’ve done quite a bit of online research as I’m shopping a more fuel efficient method of transportaion. I’ve driven both the Audi A3 and Lexus Ct-hybrid. I am on the fence still, but the thing that may determine which way I go comes down to simple average daily costs. The Hybrid gets 43/40 mpg the diesel gets 30/42 mg, but it costs about 50cents more per gallon here in California, and as I’ve been paying attention, the gap between gas and diesel doesn’t seem to be getting smaller. I don’t know why this is, but I’d rather simply pay less at the pump now. $30 for a fill up on the Hybrid…yeah that works for me.

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