// Diesel vs. Hybrid: A Point Missed
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  1. #1

    Diesel vs. Hybrid: A Point Missed

    Ok, everybody knows about the big debate between diesel and hybrid technology. Some may argue that diesel technology is better because it's just as fuel efficient and a cheaper technology to implement. Some may argue that hybrid technology is better because its very fuel efficient, and is much better for the environment.

    There are a thousand other arguments, for and against, both technologies.

    Here's an argument that I feel might have been overlooked against the diesel camp.

    Diesel fuel is one of the simplest of the fuels to refine. Simple = cheap. If we think about this from a financial perspective, OPEC is charging us the same amount of money, no matter whether gasoline, or diesel, or kerosene, or jet fuel, or parts cleaner is made out of it. They don't care what it gets turned into. So wouldn't OPEC be making more money off of diesel fuel than from gasoline?

    There are political rammifications there, because some have argued that some of the OPEC countries are funding terrorists in some way, shape, or form. (Even Pres. Bush has been accused of funding terrorism in this respect...Bush is a proponent for "Big Oil," Big Oil is in turn buying oil from OPEC countries, etc, etc.)

    I could be wrong, and I'm open to being corrected, but if OPEC is making more profit from diesel fuel than from gasoline, and it's even REMOTELY possible that even ONE of the oil-producing and exporting countries is funding terrorism in ANY kind of way, wouldn't that be reason enough to give up diesel fuel?

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  3. #2

    Diesel vs. Hybrid: A Point Missed

    i have believed for a long time that the OPEC contries are heavily involved in terrorism, and buying oil from them helps their campain.

    but i don't know if we get anything besides crude oil from them? don't we process here? i thought we did.

    which means big oil gets big profit from diesel instead of regular good profit from gasoline.

    see ya

  4. #3

    Diesel vs. Hybrid: A Point Missed

    Diesel is 20-40% more efficient than gasoline per gallon. If every car in America were traded in for a diesel-engine version, we'd cut our oil consumption by at least 40%, if not more thanks to the fact that there's a lot of gasoline engines that don't even get half as much mileage as a good turbodiesel.

    Fuels have a limited shelf life, thus since oil is transported by slow barge, it's generally transported as raw crude oil and refined in the country it's sold so it can be quickly distributed while it's still freshly refined. The US imports only a very small percentage of it's gasoline pre-refined; mainly from Japan and Europe. Since diesel is so easy to refine and we'd be using so much less of it, the US has way more than enough refining capacity if all vehicles were converted to diesel.

    Further, once all vehicles use diesel fuel, that paves the way to convert to using Biodiesel produced from either corn and/or algae grown in waste water. Biodiesel is far more clean than petro-diesel and every gallon of Biodiesel that we produce domestically means another 1.5 gallons of oil that did not have to be imported from another country.

  5. #4

    Diesel vs. Hybrid: A Point Missed

    Ok. Let's expand the question a little bit. Which is better:

    1) Buy a diesel car. In the short term, you would be saving yourself some money (diesel isn't an expensive technology), improving your fuel economy, hurting the environment (just a little bit), and contributing to rising health care costs. In the long term, you'd be funding the research to switch to biodiesel fuel, which is cleaner and possibly more fuel efficient. It might even bring about an improvement in piston engine design that increases horsepower and torque. The engine still needs motor oil though.

    2) Buy a hybrid car. In the short term, you'd be spending a couple thousand extra (vs a gasoline or diesel powered car), improving your own fuel economy (comparable to a diesel engine), helping the environment a LOT, helping to reduce health care costs, and reducing not only dependence on foreign oil, but any fossil fuels. In the long term, you'd be helping to fund battery research, electric motor research, and fuel cell research. You're still using gasoline, you're still using motor oil, but half of the engine is using NEITHER motor oil NOR gasoline

    Does that just about sum it up lock, stock, and 2 smoking barrels?

    Furthermore (if this IS a correct summation) then can we say the REAL question is: Which is better...Fuel cell research, or Biodiesel research?

  6. #5

    Diesel vs. Hybrid: A Point Missed

    I bought my HCH in Jan.'04.

    The last half of '03 I spent researching, including diesels.
    I chose against diesel for these reasons:
    1. VW's terrible bad reputation for quality. Consumer reports places it in the top 10 worst.
    2. My co-worker has owned his Golf for 2 years minus 3 months...time spent in the shop for various problems (See #1 above).
    3. The Jetta I test drove made alot of noise on the freeway and excessively vibrated (in my view) when idling. It even puffed smoke already when I started it.
    4. I commute 96miles a day. 13 gas stations I pass and zero sell diesel. I'd have to un-neccessarily exit in my freeway segment to refuel.
    5. The inherently dirty diesel engine is cleaned up when new, but after 7-10 years typically blow soot or toxic fumes. There is no comparing the human reaction to diesel fumes vs gasoline or oil fumes.
    6. Every year diesel enthusiasts and their MFG's claim a "new", "clean", "long lasting" diesel engine and people continue to buy it. (And the cars). Every year these cars get older and it's the same old thing.
    7. Cost if diesel fuel has been 20-35 cents per gallon more expensive than regular unleaded.

    I've heard alot of rumours glorifying diesel into an end-all solution to our fuel problem. Along with these falsehoods are claims that diesels typically outlast a gasoline car, claims of cleaness, some say biodiesel is easy to find. Some of the diesel owners I've known have expressed concern at night in a low fuel condition.

    My friend with the Golf didn't suggest a diesel but also down-played the gas-hybrid technology too.

    I didn't listen and bought an '04 HCH.
    I've averaged 61MPG last summer, and this winter is around 58. TDI's are rated low 40's MPG, and hear of a few getting around 50.
    HCH's general average, as reported by its owners is about 47, Prius is about 49MPG.

    I don't think gas-hybrid cars are the end-all solution but are beating the pants off of diesel in both terms of quality, reliability and economy.

  7. #6

    Diesel vs. Hybrid: A Point Missed

    The car of the future could be both. In Europe, the hybrid cars will probably be diesel first. Already, Volkswagen and Audi sells diesels that use starter motor generators similar to what's in the Insight and Civic Hybrid. They cut off the engine at stoplights, though these cars have no regenerative braking. It's very cheap to make, and leads to a significant increase in fuel economy, about 15 percent.

    I do believe that in the US diesel will be the better short term solution, though. The problem is getting diesel fuel clean enough to allow expansion of the diesel market in the US. Gasoline hybrid cars are going to have slow, steady growth, but they do not have the potential to catch on like diesels do. Diesel engines are cheaper to make, that's the main thing going for them, but they are also inherently more efficient because of the lean burn principle and the compression ingnition- too much air relative to fuel and a gas engine will die just like blowing out a candle, but pumping more air into a diesel just makes it more efficient (because diesel fuel self ignites from the pressure, there is no flame or spark). Regenerative braking is cool in concept, but adding on the batteries, the motors, the electronic controls, none of those are free or easy to make. It's cheaper just to work on improving the efficiency of the engine, and diesels have the gas engine beat. The new PD and common rail injection engines made by Volkswagen have efficiencies of around 50 percent, whereas the gas engine in the average Honda is only about 33 percent efficient.

    In Europe, though, they are already paying 4 dollars a gallon for diesel (and 5 dollars for gas). So the demand for a hybrid car that gets 85-100 MPG is greater than in the US.

  8. #7

    Diesel vs. Hybrid: A Point Missed

    Diesel fuel is made in the US and Europe from imported and domestic oil. Arabs don't directly benefit from people buying diesel, not any more than gasoline. In fact, alot of diesel in the US is made from oil from Canada (Alberta).

    Diesel fuel in the US is higher priced becaues of taxes. It actually costs less than gasoline to make because there's alot less refining (alot of gasoline is actually made from naptha using hydrogen unification and chemical processes, or from kerosene and diesel using hydrocracking). The Federal government taxes diesel at a rate about 25 percent higher than gas. Many states also charge 50-100 percent more taxes onto diesel, they also charge truckers a couple thousand in some cases just to drive a truck in that state, then they have weight stations and charge truckers some more. Suppossedly, the extra tax is to pay for roads, but diesel trucks already pay alot of taxes- if you got 5 mpg you'ld be paying alot of taxes too. The money is actually going into general revenues as pork, not into roads. So basicly, the diesel tax in the US is resulting in a price that is distorted vs. the true cost. It's subsidizing gasoline, in effect, because gasoline cars aren't paying their share of road wear and the states pork. Either that, or it's a tax on thermal efficiency- penalize the diesels just because they are more efficient?

    It's similar to the California proposal of putting mileage trackers on cars because they don't like people "evading" their share of the state's gas tax by having a hybrid that gets 40 miles per gallon or more, thus spending less on gas.

    That's why I'm in a co-op that makes its own biodiesel- I effectively avoid the tax in Florida and get the fuel for about 10 cents less than what regular diesel would cost with taxes. Even if I bought regular diesel, it would still be somewhat cheaper than driving something like a Honda Civic (non-hybrid). And alot cheaper than driving a Ford Focus or a Chevy Cobalt. The car's cost has already paid for itself vs. buying a gasser because I bought it for 2000 dollars below the blue book- but even if I hadn't, it probably would have taken about 2 years for vs. a regular Jetta gasoline engine, maybe longer vs. a Corolla or Civic. The Prius I looked at would never pay for itself (not at 28,000 dollars), and the Honda Civic Hybrid would take about 4-5 years.

  9. #8

    Diesel vs. Hybrid: A Point Missed

    Fascinating concept of having a co-op to produce bio-diesel!

    i'm envious!

    That might turn out to be the next real grass roots practical technology to spread the country!

    see ya

  10. #9

    Diesel vs. Hybrid: A Point Missed

    I was wondering, if diesel and hybrid technology are valuable alone why not combine them. If VW introduced hybrid technology into its diesel cars how much better gas mileage would those cars get? I am not a raging environmentalist but it seems to me that to use less fuel and pollute less is just common sense. Is the technology relatively inexpensive and available to create bio-diesel hybrids? It seems to me fuel cells will be most useful in office and residential situations where a large storage facility and weight will not be a problem. I have seen almost nothing written on combining these two solutions to the problem of reducing fuel usage. Any websights or articles would be appreciated.

  11. #10

    Diesel vs. Hybrid: A Point Missed

    A gallon of diesel produces about 10 percent more carbondioxide than gas does. A point not to forget when comparing different technologies.

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