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Hybrid Cars Vs. Diesel.



May 22, 2009 – Comments (12) | RELATED TICKERS: CAKE , IRBT , AVAV

I am not a giant fan of the gasoline/electric hybrid. The batteries are too expensive, the longevity of them is in question, there is the issue of what can be done with regard to recycling them and they throw off the balance of the car making them handle poorly.


My mid size gasoline powered car will take me 28 miles on one gallon of gasoline on the interstate. Compare that to a VW Passat TDI with a similar engine but powered by diesel will get 38-40. That means with the price of diesel fuel being $2.09 a gallon, around the corner from my home, you would pay .05 - .06 per mile of interstate driving. That would give you a range of (madly crunching numbers) 627 miles on its 16.5 gallon tank. Holy cow! You don't have to attach Doc Brown's Mr. Fusion to a Flux Capacitor in order to get outstanding fuel economy from a conventional car. 


When I look at the current technologies out there that are being applied to automobiles I believe hydrogen fuel cell cars are going to be the ultimate zero emissions car. There are a few speed bumps in the way to making them available outside of California but those should be worked out over the next few years.  




P.S. – Another benefit to owning a diesel engine is that a simple conversion can be done to make your car run on cooking oil. Think of it; you can run your car on the spent grease (after extensive filtering) from your favorite burger joint while your car emits the lovely smell of fries!


Disclaimer: I do not own VW stock or vehicles. I do have a copy of Herbie the Love Bug for the kids.


Tesla Roadster Test 

Honda Clarity Test Drive (Hydrogen Fuel Cell Car)

12 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On May 22, 2009 at 4:07 PM, CMFEldrehad (99.99) wrote:

I disagree that fuel cells will be the untimate zero emissions car.  The problem is both simple and staggering - infrastructure.  Purely electric vehicles actually make much more sense (though we're not yet there with the battery technology) because they can leverage an already existing 'fuel' distribution infrastructure (i.e. the existing power grid).

Hybrids do well and are a happy medium while we wait for battery technology to evolve further because they leverage the already existing fuel distribution infrastructure (which diesel shares).

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#2) On May 22, 2009 at 4:10 PM, MGDG (33.09) wrote:

Diesel Electric Hybrid is much more efficient than Gasoline Electric. Unfortunately, neither work as well on the highway. If you do a lot of Interstate driving, you'll get your biggest bang for your buck with Diesel and wouldn't see a great benefit for the extra cost of the Hybrid.

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#3) On May 22, 2009 at 4:16 PM, catoismymotor (< 20) wrote:

With electric cars you are merely passing the buck. Instead of you burning fossil fuels to go from point A to B you rely on your friendly utility company to do it for you. The current electric grid will not be able to handle 100 million electric cars charging up in the comfort of our garages. If you think the rolling black outs California had in recent years were bad you are in for a rude surpise if the grid is not beefed up to handle future stress.

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#4) On May 22, 2009 at 4:20 PM, catoismymotor (< 20) wrote:


Those are the speed bumps I was eluding to.



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#5) On May 22, 2009 at 4:40 PM, masterN17 (< 20) wrote:

Electricity at least has the potential for becoming renewable while gasoline has no such potential.



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#6) On May 22, 2009 at 4:40 PM, rd80 (95.93) wrote:

This post brings back memories.

My first new car was a '79 VW Diesel Rabbit.

50+ mpg highway and not much worse around town.  That car got about the same mileage as my KZ-750.

On the downside, zero-to-60 time in the diesel was measured with a calendar.  (The Kawasaki was a bit quicker)

30 years later and the oil burning bunny would still be near the top of the mileage charts.


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#7) On May 22, 2009 at 4:45 PM, chk999 (99.97) wrote:

One additional problem with diesels is that the particulate emissions are just the right size to get really deep into the lungs. They have all kinds of bad stuff adsorbed onto their surfaces and deep inside you lungs is the last place you want them.

Chris - not a diesel fan

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#8) On May 22, 2009 at 5:13 PM, SkepticalOx (98.62) wrote:

"With electric cars you are merely passing the buck. Instead of you burning fossil fuels to go from point A to B you rely on your friendly utility company to do it for you."

I'm trying to find the source again, but I read that from utility to putting rubber to the road, electric cars are more efficient than the normal gasoline cars. Despite all the inefficiencies in power generation, transmission, and in the EV themselves, EV's are still more efficient than burning fossil fuels in today's internal combusion engines in your car (which wastes a heck of a lot of energy as heat). Ontop of that, apparently ulility-to-EV-to-road carbon emissions are 4-5x less than that of your normal internal combustion engine powered car.

And, with all the talk about smart power grids and sensors, EV cars can benefit from the synergy of upgrading the entire system, which will benefit homes, businesses, and cars.

Still, I love my gasoline powered car and the sound gasoline engines make. Automakers need to get blamed for constantly making cars HEAVIER and then compensating by increasing power.

And seriously, we need better public transportation. More and cleaner buses. High-speed trains. Better paths for bikers. I would not mind myself taking public transportion if it didn't take so dang long, and only use my car as a weekend toy.


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#9) On May 22, 2009 at 6:51 PM, Donnernv (< 20) wrote:

I'll take a stab at this.  To keep this to a reasonable length, I have to make some ex-cathedra statements (which I'm ready and willing to back up).

1. We are facing the certainty of peak oil soon.  This will effect gasoline, diesel and somewhat later, natural gas.

2. The principal use of crude oil is transportation, but crude oil and natural gas are input constituents of desperately important consumer and industrial products.  We can't afford to burn them up.

3. We must, because of 1. and 2., transition transportation to a renewable energy source.

4. Hydrogen fuel cells will never power transportation.  Neither will in-the-vehicle nuclear power.

5. The only realistic option is electricity.

6. Wind, solar, hydro, geothermal are clean, green and the advocates are really nice people.  But these renewables, all together, will never provide more than 5-10% of the baseline electricity in this country.  And that would be a massive growth from the present situation.

7. Roughly 50% of the country's electricity comes from coal.  Roughly 20% comes from nat gas.  And roughly 20% comes from nuclear.

8. In the medium to long term, coal will become substantially more expensive because of the need to "clean it up".

9. Nuclear is infinitely expandable.  Although the plants are expensive (~$6 billion), the operating costs are very low.

10. Demand growth and the shift of transportation to electricity will require an enormous increase in electric generation capacity.  Only coal or nuclear are capable of this expansion magnitude.

11. A generally overlooked parallel problem is the growing scarcity of potable water.  Desalination requires a lot of electricity.  Build a desalination plant with the nuclear plant, along our oceans.  It is optimal.

12. The vehicles can be charged, and the desalination performed, at night when grid demand is low.

13. There is no other realistic outcome.

14. Don't start with Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, waste storage, cooling water heatup, meltdown danger, uranium scarcity, decommissioning costs or terrorists.  These, and other objections, were raised in an earlier blog last September.  In response, I wrote an 18 page analysis detailing the ex-cathedra statements I have made here.

For anyone who gives a damn, I'll send you a copy.  Just email me at aol.

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#10) On May 22, 2009 at 7:01 PM, cashkid79 (93.30) wrote:

How about the public transportation system (buses run primarily on diesel, not sure how all the rail systems are powered) being overhauled.  Think about some of our main US cities and the larger more developed foreign public transit system's general population utilization levels and it's fairly easy to draw some conclusions about public transit efficiency. I'd like to see some kind of government deal worked out to retrofit diesel-powered modes of transportation to run on biodiesel; a global move ideally...especially China though as I am still waiting on GU to take flight...I know I heard something about a gov't deal to do a biodiesel retrofit in China, just don't know what became of it...

NOTE ON BIODIESEL:  There was a convention given teaching the process of biodiesel development and every session (monthly) was sold out within hours to the point it got to waiting list only entry.  This was in Baton Rouge, LA and I believe it was between 200-400USD per person initially.  Anyhow, the speaking was directed more at large-scale production/conversion.  So, I'd have to speculate that there is a growing demand for these kinds of services over the last couple of years (and for other reasons as well).


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#11) On May 22, 2009 at 8:08 PM, MGDG (33.09) wrote:

Chris, the Diesel paticulates are nasty. Fortunately Corning has cleaned them up with the diesel particulate filter.

cashkid, in our area the diesel buses were converted to LNG about 10 years ago. The locomotives run on GE's diesel electric hybrid engines.

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#12) On January 14, 2010 at 2:21 AM, BrandonPaulChevy (< 20) wrote:

I prefer the hybrid ones. The center caps and some other parts becomes more durable with the use of electric power than fuel.

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