The Persistent and Elusive Dream of a Diesel Hybrid

The idea of combining a diesel engine with a gas-electric hybrid powertrain has been on the drawing boards for many years. The Clinton Administration’s fuel efficiency research programs program of the 1990s produced a trio of 80-mpg diesel-hybrids. None went into production. Peugeot has been showing a diesel-hybrid concept for years. GM unveiled a 60-mpg diesel-hybrid Opel Astra concept about five years ago. Volkswagen, BMW and Mercedes were all talking about diesel hybrids in early 2008. And buzz about a 70-mpg VW Diesel-Hybrid Golf spread across the blogosphere, also in 2008, with rumors that Volkswagen would deliver one “as early as 2009.”

Here we are in 2010, and it’s diesel-hybrid-déjà vu all over again. It’s not a surprising development, considering that the combined fuel efficiency of a diesel engine and a hybrid system could send mpg into a new strata. The problem all along has been cost. Most analysts believe that diesel hybrids will double the incremental cost of an advanced fuel-efficient car—but not the benefit. Hybrids and diesels—used alone rather than in tandem—have remained niche technologies largely because of price tags beyond the reach of a real mainstream market. Combining the systems would send costs even higher.

Recycled Dreams

Nonetheless, the vision persists. Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche has confirmed suggestions from last summer that Mercedes will launch the 2012 Mercedes-Benz E300 Hybrid using a 2.2-liter four-cylinder diesel engine with twin turbochargers, in late 2011 (probably only for the European market). The lithium ion battery and electric motor in the E300 would be similar to those used in the $89,000 Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid, which went on sale late last year. Add a diesel engine to that vehicle and expect a price tag close to $100,000.

According to Autocar, a UK-based auto website, engineers at GM Europe are also “studying the feasibility of integrating the company’s existing hybrid components—motor-generators, batteries and control electronics—with diesel engines.” The report suggest that a diesel-hybrid version of Opel Astra could make sense—a claim that is eerily similar to one appearing five years ago when Wired magazine claimed that diesel hybrids were “on the fast track.”

The GM engineers are even reported to be considering a diesel version of the plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt. The prospect of a diesel plug-in hybrid—even better if running on biodiesel—could mean operating a car almost entirely on electricity, and using biofuel to extend its range. That would be the holy grail of long range and zero petroleum. Unfortunately, the cost of a large lithium ion battery pack, electric motors and a diesel engine is likely to keep this idea in research labs for many years. Green car fans shouldn’t get their hopes up again.


  • Samie

    At this point in the game it may not be a good idea for automakers to spend such time with this concept. I see commercial and heavy duty trucks as the best option for diesel hybrids. With plug-ins and EV’s coming to market competing with hybrid diesel in passenger cars and small SUV’s, it does not make much sense to invest large amounts of money into this technology.

    The only way it works is to sell this in a luxury setting. So far Americans like higher MPG’s but it does not result into a “convenience factor” as I like to call it in reducing annoying trips to gas stations as part of a consumers buying habit. This means you pay a premium for higher mpgs beyond conventional mpgs in the market 40-50mpg now but paying for say 80-90mpgs w/o limit that could come from current limitations in battery range of plugins or EV’s.

    An example would be a hybrid diesel Jetta with 80-100mpgs sold for 35k but if the Jetta only would get 60mpgs would that really be enough for consumers to pay the additional 10k in cost? Say if a Ford Fiesta would get 40mpgs at half the cost and for 25k you can get a decent Prius hybrid and get 50mpgs a hybrid diesel Jetta does not stack up. The BMW diesel hybrid is a yawn and I doubt any diesel hybrid would be a “game changer” in offering a decent price with double the mpgs most cars have now. That is why it’s time to move on, past this old concept.

  • Charles

    The leading hybrids use Atkinson cycle type engines. Atkinson cycle engines provide a highly efficient ICE, but one without low end torque. Diesel engines are also very efficient even compared to Atkinson engines. Diesel engines have great low end torque. The electric motors used in hybrids make almost all of their torque at low RPMs. So in short the Atkinson cycle engine is a really good match for a hybrid, the Diesel, not so much.

    Cars like the Volt, would be a different story. With the engine disconnected from the drive wheels, the only real question is the efficiency and weight of the engine.

    I do not think we will ever see wide spread use of Diesels in hybrids, due to cost and weight.

  • Carl

    And yet, Diesels and hybrids are still way more cost effective than all electric cars.

  • Frustrated

    You guys miss the point. Diesel technology already exists. Manufacturers just have to use it. And who says they have to be parallel hybrids? Why not a diesel in a series hybrid. In fact, why not a Freedom Motors Rotapower engine in a series hybrid? Now that would be an efficient car.

  • hybridgreg

    It is untrue to suggest that a diesel hybrid will cost double as compared to gas hybrid car because of development costs. If you are a conspiracy enthusiast, it might even be fertile ground to think that somthing elese is at play. First, let’s establish a few facts.

    First, no new technology needs to be developed to implement hybrid diesels. The controls needed to control a hybrid diesel are not any different than those needed in the gas engine; most are software changes Therefore, the supposed “cost of research” to bring one to market is not that much more significant; at least in the present group of hybrids. It would be easier in the Toyota system verses the Honda system, in that, Honda uses a motor generator attached to the flywheel and the extra torque requirements for the higher compression ratios of a diesel engine to obtain a thousand rpm, instantaneously, would require a larger motor attached to that flywheel. An incrementally larger capacity battery would help, as well.

    Next, the use of a lithium ion battery is something that is adding cost to any hybrid. So, to keep costs down, it would be better to keep the Nickel metal hydride battery, in present use, taking advantage of the market’s “economy of scale advantage”, rather than trying switch to lithium ion.

    Additionally, manufacturers need to drop the idea of a plug in option for the first diesel hybrid to, again, reduce costs of initial production. The plug in option can be added later.

    What we are seeing is not a situation where the technology cannot be economically implemented, but rather, an attempt to not produce an efficient hybrid diesel in a business climate where sales are down, and any new technology or product that has to include a period of time to recoup investment costs (ie plug ins, all-electric increased mileage, lithium ion, cafe standards changes, carbon footprint reductions, etc) will not be green lighted. In a robust environment, these cost increases are taxing. In this anti-business climate, it is much easier to sell the same old stuff rather than invest in the future. And like the rest of us who are tightening our belts and not spending money, car companies are doing their version of belt tightening by carefull spending on new technology, while claiming that it is increased selling price constraints that make these new offerings untenable. In light of the Obama decrees on plug in hybrids, this tact allows the cover needed to reduce new investment while offering the old group of products. This is the same tact taken during the Carter era of the 1980s when pressure to develop reduced emission vehicles resulted in a myriad of small electrical gadgets and tricks to pass stricter standards. while avoiding investments in R&D due to a slow economy.

    So, until the captains of business and industry are able to be released from the grip of a totalitarian business climate, forget about any move towards hybrid diesels or any other innovative technology inside the US, but then; the whole “global warming/invironmental movement” was never designed to help the world (now that we have been lied to and that we now know the earth has cooled every year for the last 10 years).

    Although the article mentions the Germans developing the hybrid diesels, their prime markets would be in the US, if its economy recovers anytime soon… and the Chevy Volt continues to be “vaporware”.

  • Mr.Bear

    A diesel engine would cost $3,000 to $4,000 more than a gas engine. At least that’s my guess based on a 6.6L diesel engine vs a 6L gas engne in a 3/4 ton truck (a $4,800 difference on Dodge trucks).

    Since a hybrid vs. A gas engine is also a $2,000 to $4,000 difference, yeah, a doubling of engine cost is a reasonable estimate.

    I think we also need to take a minute to remember mpg is not the be-all end-all of making a more environmentally frendly car. Diesels have higher NOx and particulate emissions.

    Finally, I’m not sure the technology is a good fit. Diesel engines are high torque engines. How many high torque situations will a hybrid car encounter? Whereas how many high rpm situations will they encounter, which makes a gas engine more suitable?

  • Charles

    VW charges about $1,375 for the Diesel option for the Jetta. I would assume that as the engine size grows, the price difference also grows.

    I still do not think Diesel plus hybrid is going to happen. It is just not a great mix. I just do not see the Diesel being much if any more efficient in a hybrid.

  • AP

    It is true that both diesel and electric engines are high torque and at a first glance it does not give much benefit to combine them. That is true when your diesel engine is at least 2L one. But if it is 1.3L, like on Open/Vauxhall Corsa sold Europe (Corsa is Fiesta/Yaris size car). It is a very fuel efficient car, now if you take this small efficient diesel engine and hybrid system with smaller battery and drop these into a bigger and heavier car, then you will get a very efficient family car for 5.

  • David

    Makes perfact sense, whats so hard about replacing the gas engine with 30% more effient diesel engine, its a no brainer people, ask yourself who doesnt want the U.S. to have vehicals getting 80-100 mpg?!

  • Dom

    Actually, VW has a fleet of 20 of their Twin-Drive concept cars testing around Europe.

    http://blogs.motortrend.com/6566713/green/volkswagen-twindrive-the-peoples-plug-in/index.html

    This is a different concept car than is pictured above… it is a plugin diesel hybrid…

  • wxman

    Bosch projects diesel engines will derive more benefit from hybridization than gas engines…

    http://www.greencarcongress.com/2009/07/bosch-20090701.html#more

    Regarding conventional emissions, DPF reduces PM emissions below that of gas engines on both a particle number and mass basis. NOx emissions are only marginally higher and that’s more than offset by lower HC/VOC emissions.

  • Shines

    WXman the article you reference says Bosch projects a 39% improvement for gas and 40% for diesel. At what cost is that 1% difference.
    Diesel requires higher compression (which is why diesels are more efficient than gasoline engines) which requires a much stronger (heavier) (more expensive) engine block. Diesels also are more efficient when warmed up. The article mentions thermal management technology (another additional cost required of a diesel hybrid). Diesel fuel is more expensive (in the US anyway) than gasoline so that is another additional cost that a diesel hybrid owner will have to pay. Sure, a diesel hybrid is doable but I’ll have to agree with the folks who suggest that the cost probably outweighs the benefits.

  • christine

    yes, diesel is more expensive in some countries. but this is very often because of the governmental taxes on fuel. if they would support dieselhybrid and diesel engines, they could lower the taxes. in germany diesel is much cheaper than gasoline and we have about 50% new sold diesel cars every year. it all depends on the price for the fuel.

  • Adrian

    Instead of making diesel hybrids, why not make simple diesel cars. They are very popular in Asia and Europe. There is not a single car running on diesel here in the U.S

  • ms

    Diesel is noisy and pollutant.

    Please be far from this fuel.

  • sean t
  • wxman

    @ Shines…

    >At what cost is that 1% difference.<

    Assuming the cost of the diesel hybrid system is the same as the cost of the gas hybrid system, nothing. That 1% is on top of the 30%-40% difference between equivalent gas and diesel engines in conventional vehicles.

  • Anonymous

    Adrian said, “Instead of making diesel hybrids, why not make simple diesel cars. They are very popular in Asia and Europe. There is not a single car running on diesel here in the U.S”.

    Actually there are, mostly from European automakers (VW, Mercedes, BMW)…

  • Erik

    In a vehicle such as the Volt, my understanding is that the engine is not tied into the drive train. (?)

    This sounds like a “diesel” locomotive which is really a diesel/electric vehicle. Locomotives use electric motors to drive the wheels, the diesel engine generates the electricity to power the motors.

    I don’t see why any EV can’t carry a small high-torque diesel engine with a couple 100 amp alternators to recharge the battery pack. Say when the pack gets to 75% it kicks in and recharges the battery packs at a 200 or more amp rate. How fast is the plug-in amp charge rate on electricity? Does anyone know?

  • Dean

    It’s really simple, The American dollar is based on the price of OIL not gold in Fort Knox. “Thanks to Nixon” The higher oil is priced the more money the USA can print. And don’t forget, if everyone wanted Diesel who would buy the by product IE gasoline?

  • adrian

    true samie.. but your thinking of now. over time the car would practically pay for it’s self. and specially with a diesel engine that would easily last you over 300k miles. just to put it out there have you guys heard of bloom box? If not look it up at YouTube. Automakers should start using this technology with hybrid vehicles.

  • Pat Martin

    Let’s see. Diesel 300,000 miles b/4 overhaul, using Electric as the local round the town power sourse you might get 400 or even 500,000 miles out of the diesel.
    Even at 10 grand premium at purchase, you could drive this vehicle 25 years.
    The auto makers would never go for that. If you are not buying a new vehicle evey 5 years they would not be in business. Remember we are still in the throw away society.

  • Daniel Radd

    The American market is not the Be all and End all of the automotive world. You do not pay anywhere near the European fuel costs for either Petrol (Gas) or Diesel engines. America goes by the Gallon, we however have to go by the litre as if we went by the gallon we may break down on the forecourt.

  • Oh really?

    Not a single car running on diesel here in the US? That’s funny, I wonder how I just drove our TDI to work this morning (spouse has a leg injury so he gets my Prius this week). Ditto for my neighbor, who also drives a diesel car…

  • Flectarn

    The 70′s Called… they want their engines back

  • Charlie Tell

    How hard is it to buy a used prius and install a Kohler Diesel Engine — 1028cc, High Speed Open Power with Group 8 Interchange, Model# KDW1003 and add batteries?

    Total parts would be under $10G

    Are there any firms that have experience in this kind of work?

  • shafina

    there is a saying like this hybrid cars will never make it to the market. simply because the people who are making a fortune selling oil are hindering the proecesss. an alternative can really kill their fortune. but they are failing to realize that oil price now are killing our fortune.
    hiphone

  • Ben

    The hybrid diesel is a viable option, but it needs to be investigated by our companies that specialize in long-range transportation vehicles first. Tractor-trailers that can afford to haul the extra weight of large batteries can also benefit from the torque gains offered by electric motors. Throw in some industry-standard energy reclamation technology and you’re good to go. Besides, if semis already cost upward of $120,000 how much would a $10,000 upcharge hurt the buyer?

  • ConcernedAboutDiesel

    If they can charge a battery more efficiently, they are Cheaper to make (just ask VW on the price difference between a V6 GAS Jetta and a V4 TDI Diesel Jetta both producing the same power), have less emmissions, can run off 100% natural products (without petroleum additives) without determinmental problems to fuel lines and at only a 5% power loss, they last 10x longer, and the technology is baked through and through, Again we ask,
    WHY NOT??

    Additional:
    Diesel has been around for a REALLY long time. It was presented at a 1950 Auto Convention invented by Mr. Diesel to run on Peanut Oil. All this “Technology” is the Petroleum’s way to making use of this technology into their mainstream Oil supply forcing these engines to run on Petroleum when they were not designed for it.

    Facts:
    1. Same field of Corn Can Produce 6x the biodiesel than Ethanol, and you Don’t have any reason to mix it with petroluem products, you can put it right into the tank 100% natural and only lose 5% BTU (power output), with Ethanol you lose 25-30% BTU and you have to mix it with Petroleum products at least 50% mixture, 85/15 is what?
    2. 1 Liter Engine Diesel Compared to 1 Liter Engine GAS, the Diesel engine can procude 1.2KWH Battery charge more than the GAS in the same interval. That means you are charging your batteries 3 times as fast or roughly 1/3 the amount of Petroluem if you buy Diesel from a Petroleum pump, if it’s a Biodiesel Pump (fuel with 96% Less Heat) you can reconfigure the diesel (back to its original design) to get 2KWH more than a GAS or 4.6 times the charge off the same liter of fuel.

    - Diesel has tremendous Torque and can turn BIG gears really easy, This Charges batteries really fast at 1/3 the RPMs (per drop of fuel)
    - Where designed to run on 100% PURE Natrual Grown product with little to no power loss, up to 5% power loss when compared to petroleum low sulfur diesel, but with 96% less heat
    - Today we generate over 1billion barrels of Ethanol per year, you can take that same amount of corn and make close to 6billion barels of Biodiesel and you dont need to mix it with Petroleum products and your engine runs cooler and more efficiently than with Petroleum at 96% less heat.
    - Is a long term, compression based, prelubricated engine that requires 10X less maintenance, and proven to last 10x Longer.
    - Diesel engines are much more simple than GAS, the RPMs typically Red Line at 4K requiring less electronics to coordinate efficiency.
    - Produce Less Emmisions than GAS engines (the black Smoke is what you see, but it doesnt mean they have more Emmisions, 20XX Diesel engines product zero smoke as 2007 and newer VWs have proven.

    Its a given what the choice here is, the hold up can only be one of politics. Its obvious we have the technology to create a Hybrid Diesel that runs on 100% natrual product and it is easy to supply, and easier to make than Ethanol.

    Thanks, Mike

  • joe caiaro

    Well, of course we’ve had diesel hyrbids around for years and no one has accused them of not being practical, they’re called “locomotives” and they pull train cars all over the country.

    Old technology just needing a different platform.

  • joe cairo

    I agree and don’t forget the lower maintenance costs for diesel and the longer…much longer…life spans. If you add in the savings from maintenance alone, you probably come out even after 5 years. diesel engines hardly ever die and when they do, they have stupid hours on them…half a million miles +. PLUS, enough torque to pull a wide variety of heavy loads…like the kind being towed by suv’s now.

    some guy earlier said here that the concept was old and we should move on. Yeah the concept is old but so is solar power and wind. so what? Its how you USE the concept that is fresh. I can’t wait to see somebody rig something together that makes sense. Someone will because the idea is too good to throw away.

  • Eric Atkinson

    I would like to propose a Local Transporation System for this obviously expert panel to consider, for I am not a vehicle engineer, but a general marketer.

    First, some market assumptions, as follows:

    Let’s assume that a marketing group had the capability to create a Neighborhood Web Site of 65,000 Members, such as that found at any large university, and related College Town.

    Let’s further assume that those 65,000 Members (or Students) were divided into Vehicle Investment Groups of 4 Members for the purpose of purchasing (or preferably leasing with no mileage limit) a Taxi Cab Fleet of 16,384 hummer-like bio-diesel plugin hybrid vehicles (which market might be quickly be served by a manufacturer given such a large demand if many colleges, and related college towns, participated worldwide).

    Why? Because then each Member (or Student) would have 75% lower transportation costs since they are sharing those costs with 4 other Members (or Students) — per vehicle (or taxi) — as well as 16,384 other Vehicle Investment Groups in their Taxi Cab Fleet — that is, for high-level shared costs, such asr maintenance, biodiesel fuel production (say from a collection of local soybean farmers).

    Consequently, when a Member or Non-Member needed local transportation (at 75% lower cost than owning a car due to this Economy of both Scale and Scope), they would call their College Cab Company and a vehicle would arrive within 5 minutes (given such a huge local fleet) to take them to their destination at cost, plus a profit (furthering reducing cost) whenever a Non-Member called for their specific cab.

    Finally, let’s assume that each College Town passed two ordinances, as follows:

    The first ordinance would require that all local transportation needs of residents in the College Town (as opposed to long-distance transportation needs) be satisfied by the College Cab Company (since it costs 75% less from the customer’s point of view anyway).

    The second ordinance would require those cabs be operated as driver-less vehicles using, for example, Google’s Driverless Car (among other driverless vehicles with a much lower accident rate than human drivers), and thus eliminate both the cost of the driver, and their related accident medical costs.

    My conclusion is that if such a local transport system were implemented, then this would reduce the number of cars on the road by 75%, increase vehicle speeds to 100 mph (whenever possible), as well as reduce transportation costs, and related emissions — per Member — by 75%

    What does this expert panel think of this concept as it relates to the type of car most suitable for this kind of market, such as a bio-diesel plug-in hybrid? Does the perfect car for this type of market even exist? As such, any opinions on the economic and political viability of this concept would be appreciated, for I am not a vehicle engineer, but a general marketer. Thx!

  • Antonio Manso

    If you consider in-line (as opposed to parallel ) drive trains, Diesel engines can be used simply to recharge the battery, operating at optimal revs. Thus one can suppress clutches, gearboxes differencials and drive shafts.
    Those cost money,and add to overall fuel inneficiency, don’t they?
    This way I don’t see why a diesel hybrid should be too costly.

  • Scott Allerdice

    In some past years, we also been told about the water car that will come out which replaces fuel and make people life more convenient and easier but still we are discussing fuel and diesel but still gas cars are still take the corner.iphone application development
    iphone applications development

  • Bill

    Shines, 40% vs 39% is relative, so the diesels consume 1/3 less fuel than gasoline in the example and will burn essentially one third less fuel as a hybrid. So a prius that gets 50 mpgs would get 75mpgs as a diesel

  • Henrik

    THE DIESEL HYDBRID CAR IS ALLREADY LAUNCHED AND CAN BE BOUGHT (IN 11 EUROPEAN COUNTRIES SO FAR):
    http://www.peugeot.com/en/products/cars/3008hybrid4.aspx

  • Henrik

    THE DIESEL HYDBRID CAR IS ALLREADY LAUNCHED AND CAN BE BOUGHT (IN 11 EUROPEAN COUNTRIES SO FAR):
    http://www.peugeot.com/en/products/cars/3008hybrid4.aspx

  • Hildy

    I own a 1990 Mercedes Benz 300D Turbo 2.5 that gives 25 mpg in city and up to 33 highway, if I drive within the 55 mph limit. With a fuel tank that hold 18.5 gals, I do very well. On November 27 I filled the tank and drove 175 miles from Silver Spring, MD to Lewisburg, PA. I drove around one full week and added about 75 miles. I drove back to Silver Spring on December 4 on the same tank of diesel, having added 425 miles since November 27. I filled that tank at that point and it took only 12.978 gals which means the tank had approximately 5.5 gals of diesel left. Of course, there is no heavy traffic or traffic jams where I live/work in PA. I know I got in the range of 650 miles on a tank of diesel. I would hate to part with this baby which will be 22 years on the road come February 2012. Incidentally, I had to change the exhaust system once and the shocks/struts are original. No internal engine work so far. The most expensive single item so far has been replacing glow plugs–a maximum of three times since I bought the car used in 1994 with 57,000 miles. I have added 115,000 since March 1994. Odometer currently reads approx. 172,000. The technology has improved significantly since 1990. I expect that my next car will be a diesel, most likely another Mercedes Benz. When I contacted Mercedes Benz last week to inquire about a diesel hybrid for the US market, they told me that Mercedes Benz has no plans to add a diesel hybrid to the US market into the foreseeable future.

  • cobra232

    Really diesels are not a good hybrid idea??? Why then have trains been diesel electric since WWII???

  • next gen.

    Well cobra that is the best question and one I’ve been stewing over. I think it’s a fuel that media dare not speak it’s name. Why? Because if a pro American put one together with American design and American workers our economy might fix itself!! Just think if you solar assisted the batteries on a well built diesel which actually burns cleaner than most fuels thank you minus the smell (which can be mitigated but no one especially those snobbish idiots making California laws admit to. Just think if you add biodiesel to that mix…. that would only make me hungry) you could increase you MPG decrease your emissions have engine that are tougher than oxen and they have become vastly more reliable as we have now figured out how to start a diesel in the cold. Besides diesel engines are more adaptable than some other with veggie oil and waste vegetable oil being adaptable option that give you such a range of big killing possibilities. Of course the automakers don’t have a thing to worry about they can make all sorts of fuel efficient cars at a decent price. You just are going to do that when you are playing both side of the efficiency battle against the middle. Make them chose what’s best for consumer and you will see them change their tune. To expensive to produce yeah right.

  • Ralph Roberts

    Some of these nay-saying comments are hilarious. So much expert sounding opinion judiciously pointing out the infeasabilities of combining diesel and electric. Flash forward a couple of years and Volvo and VW both have diesel electrics in the works which will get 130-150 mpg for only few thousand dollars more–the diesel motor can run solo, charge the battery and still get 55mpg. I especially like how one of the comments makes this out to be a Obama (or Carter) problem–he’s so anti-business. Like there was so much innovation under Reagan and the Bushes. Funny how regular gasonline engine efficiency has almost doubled in some cars in the last three or four years. Clinton provided 80mpg offers, but they didn’t come to market. What a surprise. As someone briefly pointed out above: if you look at who stands to lose with the large scale production of highly efficient autos, then its pretty obvious who is standing in the way of improvements. Does one have to buy into conspiracy? Isn’t it obvious that big oil and big auto are heavily interconnected/inter-invested. It would be more surprising if they weren’t, wouldn’t it? To not do so would be foolish on their part. Would you be surprised that movie theater companies are invested in 3d glasses? If auto makers give you a longer lasting engine, who loses? If they give you cars that run on 1/6 the fuel, who loses? How many years have we had to read about the technology Europe uses–that “sadly” won’t make it to our shores. Americans will buy the hell out of Accords and Civics but just won’t buy diesels because they are “too dirty, smelly and noisy” (all factors which had been resolved with clean diesel before any of the above comments had been made) so we have to sit by and read about the Accord wagons in Europe getting 55 mpg with no technical innovation required. Funny how you don’t ever hear about any of this in the mainstream media (or actual numbers on how much oil the mysterious lands of China and India are using–actual charts show that world demand and US demand for petroleum are just about parrallel). I guess with gas at $4.50+ a few years ago and $4+ now the average American wouldn’t have been interested in such facts. I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that automakers take up a huge proportion of the major networks’ primetime advertising? Why is the dream and many others elusive? Most of the people with the capital to develop these ideas and market infrastructure would be shooting themselves in the foot. Robbing themselves of an easily monopolized resource and source of capital. Wouldn’t it be smarter for them to just sandbag themselves under the guise of American tastes (which they have nothing to do with cultivating, of course) and cost ratios (which never entail details). Quick quiz: if you could go from a 2008 SUV to a 2013 Crossover Diesel/Electric that would save you about $30,000 in the first 10 years would you be willing to pay a $1500 to $4000 more at the outset. Do you really think that people are that stupid? Why do they not want these cars? Because they are being constantly told not to want them. They are being constanly bombarded with misinformation to confuse them, to scare them, to make them doubt, to see it as unmasculine or unpatriotic to have it as good as the European “socialists”. Wake up, or, wake someone else up. It all starts with information.

  • freddy

    All the “clerks” acting like they know what they are talking about in these comments would make any engineer laugh out loud (I know I did). VW polo diesel had better emissions than the Prius in all particulate tests in a study I read a few years ago in a popular mechanics. Diesel is the most efficient, feasible, internal combustion engine in production…hands down. All the people talking down the need for low end torque are not thinking about the lowered rpm through gear reduction needed to turn a generator or motor. Lowered RPM means lower fuel consumption. ALL VEHICLES BENEFIT FROM LOW END TORQUE. A diesel could easily double the mileage of a hybrid. < - that's a period

    Try bringing a diesel (that has lower emissions than most gas) into the USA. It is nearly impossible. Toyota makes good diesels in their trucks worldwide. Why can’t Americans have a 40 mpg truck? Well the answer is you can, but you can’t drive it on any roads because the government wont let you register it (I have tried). (Early 80′s chevy luv diesel and VW trucks easily got 40mpg, and that ended faster than it started) Think about all the service industry out there and all the tax money our govt. would loose if they spent half as much on fuel. (pest control, gardening, pool service, US mail, plumbers, electricians, contractors…….ETC) I own a small fleet of four-banger rangers and at best they are 25 average mpg. Would I spend an extra 50k on diesel four-bangers and save 25k a year in fuel and have my trucks last twice as long??….my govt. will protect me from even making that decision.