Ford on selling 65MPG Euro-diesel car in U.S.: Nah, Americans won't buy it

0904_mz_ecocar.jpg

Will someone knock some heads together at Ford.

"But there are business reasons why we can't sell it in the U.S.," Ford America President Mark Fields. ... "We just don't think North and South America would buy that many diesel cars."

Meanwhile, Japanese and European automakers ready new high-MPG diesels for the U.S.

It's as if Ford's corporate strategy is to fail as spectacularly as it can. Bailout!

Source [Business Week]

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48 Responses to Ford on selling 65MPG Euro-diesel car in U.S.: Nah, Americans won't buy it

  1. OM says:

    …Believe it or not, it’s not just union wages that are running the US auto industry into the ground. It’s marketing goon stupidity.

  2. HeatherB says:

    They’re not being stupid, they’re keeping their bail out options open. It’s better for them. Bastards.

  3. damageman says:

    WOW!!!!!

    I wanna see them go bankrupt! They are to stupid to survive, Darwin! DIE FORD DIE! How can companies be that stupid?

  4. zuzu says:

    Just some thoughts:

    * What’s the relative price difference between diesel and gasoline in the USA these days? I bet diesel is still significantly more expensive than gasoline. IIRC, diesel gets more mpg generally, but it also has a different emissions regulatory landscape (although it apparently passes in the Eurozone).

    * Diesel engines, unlike gasoline engines, cannot be converted to compressed natural gas (CNG). (In Utah the equivalent price per gallon for a CNG retrofit vehicle is $0.65, for example. Natural gas — principally methane — also burns cleaner than gasoline or diesel.)

    * The bailout for Ford, GM, and Chrysler that got tacked on as pork and barrel to the $700 trillion Wall Street bailout is fucking ridiculous. Shitty firms need to die so that competent firms can buy up their capital and put it to better use.

  5. BastardNamban says:

    ZuZu is absolutely right on all 3 points.

  6. dculberson says:

    Zuzu, Diesel is still significantly more expensive than gasoline. I think the station down the street from me has diesel around $3/gallon while regular gas is $1.89. So a 65mpg diesel costs about the same as a 40mpg gasoline car would.

    Other thoughts:

    -The Euro models are a lot more expensive. Americans don’t pay $25k or even $20k for small American cars, much less the $30k that the Euro models would probably retail for.

    -Americans still don’t like diesels. Ford might be right on this one; for the most part, people don’t like them. Too many bad memories from years past and too used to loads of horsepower up high, maybe? Whatever the case, the gasoline Jetta way outsells the Diesel Jetta despite being a class leading Diesel engine with tons of torque and 45mpg.

    The real crime to me is the US not getting the stellar Focus ST. But I’ve always been a performance over economy sort of guy; I can afford it with as few miles as I put on my car. (I probably use less gas in my 18-to-25mpg guzzler than the average hybrid driver..)

  7. mdh says:

    Looks less pretentious than a Prius, too.

  8. KurtMac says:

    On paper, paying 30% more for diesel at the pump, but gaining over double the MPG seems like a win to me. I know there is a stigma in the US against diesel, additional regulations and taxes intended for commercial trucks, but I think it would be worth it to explore other options in addition to hybrids.

    Overall, I just really want to see the Volvo DRIVe lineup on our shores. Similar 60+mpg diesels that are currently only available in the EU. Especially the C30 DRIVe, that is one sexy car.

  9. schmod says:

    Dculberson:

    Although diesel might not necessarily be ready for the full prime time in the US, Volkswagen have been very successful marketing their this year’s version of the Jetta Diesel in the US, and sold out most of the production run on pre-orders alone.

    The fact that it passed some of the super-strict emissions tests that were seen by many as a flat-out ban on diesel-powered passenger vehicles turned quite a few heads.

    Hopefully, the prices will fall soon…

  10. vjinterkosmos says:

    #4: Why would you even consider using CNG (a fossil fuel, albeit a clean one) when you can fill up any post-mid-80s diesel with biodiesel (filtered vegetable oil)?

    For a few grand you could even set up your own filtration system and refine your own fuel out of used restaurant gunk… And feel good about not using a shred of liquified dinosaurs even if you’re lucky enough to drive a 300+ bhp Audi or MB.

  11. ridl says:

    Another bullet on the hopechange list: get rid of the ridiculous taxes on diesel that lost their usefulness decades ago and that even impact b99 biodiesel (that’s 100% biodiesel labeled as 99%… the stupid tax codes don’t allow it to be sold as 100%… this country is VERY strange).

    The U.S. is the only country in the world where Diesel costs more than the other stuff.

    In my book, it’s another murdered tech… like bullet trains, zeppelins, streetcars, e-cars, any number of clean and sustainable building practices, biofuel, until a few years ago… but the biofuel movement shows that there’s still some life in those old noble corpses. So cross fingers and knock on wood and hope this Obama guy’s administration’s going to be actually progressive and not just feel-good camo for more crypto-fascist Democrat “centrism” like I fear it will.

    um… /rant

  12. Julian Bond says:

    “The U.S. is the only country in the world where Diesel costs more than the other stuff.”

    Apart from the UK? Where Diesel is more heavily taxed than petrol, why?

    Seriously though, is low-sulphur Diesel easily obtainable in the USA? What do the big trucks run on?

  13. danbanana says:

    like a lot of euro-diesels, this isn’t just a marketing decision. some states (CA in particular) have very stringent emissions standards that a common diesel like this would never pass. like every other euro company, ford is just saying that if they have to limit the states in which these things can be sold, then they can’t turn a profit. can’t say i blame them here, since losing all sales in CA isn’t something to sneeze at. VW and MB are only now bringing over their clean diesels now, after about a decade of development.

    “Whatever the case, the gasoline Jetta way outsells the Diesel Jetta despite being a class leading Diesel engine with tons of torque and 45mpg.”

    bad logic. gas jettas outsell them because there are a ton more available. try going to a VW dealer right now and find a diesel on the lot. in most states, there’s a 2-3 month wait on the ’09s.

    as for the focus ST… the 2010 (maybe 2011, i forget) focus is going to be the euro focus. finally. i doubt they’ll bring over the ST, but there’s rumors swirling of a volvo C30R in the US, which would be an identical drive train.

  14. zuzu says:

    #4: Why would you even consider using CNG (a fossil fuel, albeit a clean one) when you can fill up any post-mid-80s diesel with biodiesel (filtered vegetable oil)?

    Because biodiesel magically isn’t a hydrocarbon, releasing CO2 as a waste product of combustion?

    Biodiesel is only sustainable for an extreme minority of users who scavenge from commercial sources such as fast food restaurants, and it does nothing to address the larger problem of greenhouse gas emissions — that whole global warming thing.

    All biofuels are basically a huge scam; growing “renewable” plants requires more fossil fuels as an input (e.g. fertilizer) than are recovered from the ethanol or biodiesel as an output.

    Whereas many people already have natural gas lines running to their homes, and they can fill up on CNG at home overnight — with vastly lower cost and significantly less environmental impact for the same amount of work being done.

    p.s. Correction: I meant $700 billion, not trillion.

  15. Duffong says:

    Do Want:

    Car, Ford to fail, U.S. car makers to get a clue, Lutz to also go away, and that car parked in my driveway.

  16. pork musket says:

    There’s no possible way I can add anything that would improve ZuZu’s and Dculberson’s already fantastic posts. Gotta love this blog and it’s commenters.

    Dculberson hit on the point that for whatever reason, Americans don’t like diesel. My theory is that because of the prevalence of consumer trucks in the U.S. compared to Europe, we’ve gotten an image of diesels as big, loud, stinky engines used to haul things. Europe not so much.

    Also I gotta say, that is a pretty sexy Focus. I really didn’t think I’d ever say that. Then I read through these wiki pages. Europe really does get the better cars. Over there, my car has push-button start and Recaro racing seats. Not even options for that stuff here.

  17. demidan says:

    Ford needs to fail,,,deep dark dank and down.

    The reason Diesel is soo expensive is because the European nations have decided that it is not to “dirty” any more so our wonderF@@ckingfull oil companies ship U.S. produced diesel fuel overseas to make a larger profit. Greed pure and simple.

  18. AirPillo says:

    Meh, they’d probably just find some way to spectacularly self destruct after a few thousand miles, anyhow.

  19. Scuba SM says:

    A couple of points:

    – Diesel has a bad PR image in the states that goes back decades. In terms of performance, they tend to be a bit slower to accelerate than gas engines.

    – Diesel is significantly more expensive than gas, because it is more heavily taxed. One of the reasons it is so heavily taxed is because it is used primarily by heavy trucks, and the logic goes those vehicles should pay for the wear and tear on the roads that they cause. A heavy tax on the fuel is fair from that perspective; the more the truck drives, the more tax they pay. Unfortunately, it screws the diesel passenger car owners. An added cost to diesel owners is the aftertreatment system. In order to meet the EPA and CARB 2010 requirements, most diesel engines will have not only a particulates filter, but a Urea catalyst to handle NOx emissions. There is little to no urea infrastructure in the US (and no, you can’t just take a leak in the urea tank), but there is an extensive one in Europe. You then also have to pay for urea, in addition to diesel. The filters themselves are also expensive (they contain platinum), adding to the cost of the vehicle.

    – Regulations in the US are much different than those in Europe. I don’t just mean emission regulations, though those are a huge factor. In order to be allowed to run the vehicle in the states, you would have to submit emissions data to at least two separate government organizations (the EPA, and CARB). It would take approximately a year to complete all the necessary testing for those organizations. In addition, the vehicle would have to be tested for US safety regulations, and some design changes may have to be meet the specifics of our regulations.

    – Market conversion costs. European drivers have different expectations for vehicles than we do stateside. They tend to enjoy a stiffer suspension, and the vehicle must be able to handle autobahn speeds. In the states, we like much smoother rides, and we usually don’t cruise much above 70 or 80 mph. That would require suspension changes, and if you’re trying to get peak fuel efficiency at different speed ranges, possibly a transmission change. Add to that the fact that the vehicle was not initially planned for release in the US. The necessary supply of parts and training of the technicians does not exist in the US, both for that specific vehicle, and for that power plant and drive train. Also because the vehicle was destined only for Europe, manufacturing of the parts and vehicle itself is most likely entirely in Europe, or close to it. Every car and spare part would have to be shipped across the ocean, adding cost to the vehicle.

    When you add up all of those costs, you’re talking about a Focus that’s probably in $30,000+ price range. You simply can’t sell a Focus for that price.

    So why didn’t they design a vehicle like that for sale in the US from the outset? The lead time for designing a vehicle and bringing it to market is 3-5 years. The lead time for designing and bringing an engine to market is significantly longer, in the range of 5-10, depending on whether you’re borrowing components from other engines, etc. They would have had to start thinking about and designing this vehicle for the US approximately 7 years ago. If you’ll recall, there was near-zero demand for a vehicle of this type at that time; everybody wanted an SUV, and there was little to no indication that gas prices would increase like they have, or stay as elevated as they have. My guess is that we’ll see a lot of very innovative, high mpg/high efficiency vehicles at the Detroit International Auto Show this year.

    As for the bailout of the Big Three: yeah, I can understand why people are upset. The companies aren’t perfect, and they’ve made some business mistakes. There are two things to consider:

    1. If the Big Three went under, an estimated 3 million jobs would be lost in the US. That certainly wouldn’t help our current economic situation.
    (http://voices.washingtonpost.com/economy-watch/2008/11/report_3m_jobs_lost_with_autom.html)

    2. The loss of the Big Three would mean the loss or severe curtailment of our ability to manufacture military vehicles domestically. In other words, we would no longer be able to make our own tanks, humvees, etc. Considering the public outcry that went up when the Air Force was going to give it’s contract for new air to air refueling tankers to Airbus, that has been considered unacceptable.

    I hope this has given some food for thought.

  20. zedmanauk says:

    There are very few diesels which meet CA emissions requirements. It is doubtful that this Ford is one of them, since even Honda has had to delay (or cancel) their introduction of diesel engines to the US because they don’t meet CA emissions standards when equipped with an automatic transmission.

    So VW is the only manufacturer to sell diesel engines in the US without requiring urea injection (like BMW and Mercedes do). Diesels with urea have a separate urea tank, and the car will not run if the tank is empty. This, combined with the fact that only 40% of US gas stations (and far less than that in CA) makes diesel far too large a hassle for most people. Diesel cars’ marketshare in Europe (after reaching almost 50%) is slipping too. So Ford is correct in stating that a business case for this car in the US would be difficult. Especially since it would likely cost $25K or more, and people used to $15K Focuses will not pay that.

  21. noen says:

    I hope this has given some food for thought.

    Why think when you can just spout ideology?

  22. porkrind says:

    There have been a lot of well thought out reasons why Ford’s diesels cannot succeed here in the US. But then I look and see that VW has sold virtually their entire run of 50-state, no urea needed diesels _in advance_. By all accounts, Honda’s 50-state, no urea diesel is stunningly smooth and likely to sell above list when they arrive in 2009. So are Honda and Volkswagen doing the impossible, or is Ford just making excuses?

  23. Anonymous says:

    Putting green temporarily aside, It is miles per dollar that will move the consumer. That includes not only energy costs, but insurance savings, and the cost of the vehicle.

    One reason Gas Guzzling SUVs took over the US Market (besides US manufacturers finding a niche they could succeed in by making the vehicles no one else wanted to make ) is the safety factor, real or illusion, and the boosting of this safety monetarily by insurance companies. 3 tons accelerated will smash 1 ton accellerated everytime. Are insurance rates lower on SUVs than on a compact?

    Due to infrastructures in place Hybrids will have to coexist with any non fossil fuel green vehicle out there for a few years. And good luck finding an Electric airline.

  24. zuzu says:

    If the Big Three went under, an estimated 3 million jobs would be lost in the US. That certainly wouldn’t help our current economic situation.

    Temporarily lost, but eventually hired by other firms. Just as the capital of a failed business is purchased by other more successful businesses to make use of.

    Actually, by not freeing this capital (including labor), actually makes the economy worse… like a cancer that no longer serves the specialization functions of the host organism, but still consuming resources.

    The loss of the Big Three would mean the loss or severe curtailment of our ability to manufacture military vehicles domestically. In other words, we would no longer be able to make our own tanks, humvees, etc. Considering the public outcry that went up when the Air Force was going to give it’s contract for new air to air refueling tankers to Airbus, that has been considered unacceptable.

    Fuck that. To hell with the military and military Keynesianism. They need major cutbacks in spending too.

  25. Scuba SM says:

    ZUZU,

    The 3 million jobs represent 3 million workers that have some sort of income, and can therefore make some sort of payment towards debt they have right now, or make payment into the economy for other goods and services. The loss of those jobs at this particular moment would result in some not inconsiderable portion defaulting on mortages and other loans, deepening the current credit crisis. The Big Three are already consolidating plants, and reducing the workforce to maintain production that meets current demand (and labor contracts), freeing up some of that capital. Yes, those 3 million people would be hired *eventually.* How long is eventually though? We don’t have another industry in the US that’s demanding that number of workers. Retraining or relocation to higher demand areas also requires significant investment and resources, neither of which appear to be forthcoming. Most companies are tightening their belts, not looking to hire more people. The only thing I can imagine that would pick up that kind of labor pool is a program like the public works programs created by FDR.

    As for your comment about military Keynesianism, I wasn’t advocating that the Pentagon go on a spending spree, and you and I agree that we need to cut military spending (and possibly direct the majority of those cuts toward education, to make our children into world-class competitors in the job market. Either that, or put it into a public works program mentioned above, as improved infrastructure in turn gives back to the economy). However, the current political environtment, internally and internationally, is such that there is strong motivation to be sure all or most of our military production can be produced in house.

  26. bunnyman2112 says:

    Well, speaking as a former diesel car owner (Isuzu I-Mark, approx 50 MPG on the highway), I have this to offer: The Ford Focus I had (4 door, manual transmission, + A/C) got OVER 40 MPG highway when we had to evacuate from Hurricane Katrina. That car was freakin’ AWESOME! The Saturn ION we have now gets close to 40 highway, but only about 22-24 in the city. Go figure. If American companies (IE: Ford) can make a GASOLINE car that can get over 40 MPG, why would you get a diesel clunker that does (indeed) do better, but the diesl fuel itself costs insane $$$? Unfortunately, with regular gas almost below $2.00, Do you really think the average Joe the Plumber is going to care about a couple gallons more or less? I just wish we’d move to hydrogen for cars and nuclear for electricity (which are both INCREDIBLY clean fuels). YMMV… (bad pun intended…)

  27. bunnyman2112 says:

    Well, speaking as a former diesel car owner (Isuzu I-Mark, approx 50 MPG on the highway), I have this to offer: The Ford Focus I had (4 door, manual transmission, + A/C) got OVER 40 MPG highway when we had to evacuate from Hurricane Katrina. That car was freakin’ AWESOME! The Saturn ION we have now gets close to 40 highway, but only about 22-24 in the city. Go figure. If American companies (IE: Ford) can make a GASOLINE car that can get over 40 MPG, why would you get a diesel clunker that does (indeed) do better, but the diesl fuel itself costs insane $$$? Unfortunately, with regular gas almost below $2.00, Do you really think the average Joe the Plumber is going to care about a couple gallons more or less? I just wish we’d move to hydrogen for cars and nuclear for electricity (which are both INCREDIBLY clean fuels). YMMV… (bad pun intended…)

  28. Purly says:

    I’ve heard that it would be too expensive for them to produce it here.

  29. st vincent says:

    In no particular order:

    1) If Ford could make money selling the diesel Focus in North America for $30K, you can bet they’d be doing it… anything to get some cash flow. But $30K is damned expensive for a small car in this market and Ford knows it wouldn’t sell here in sufficient numbers to make any $$$. Volvo’s C30 is a case in point, it’s essentially a tarted-up Focus variant which stickers for $30K and up; I read an article somewhere that N.A. sales of the C30 are so bad that they’re actually putting them back on the boats and sending them to other markets. That’s a pity, it looks like a nice ride… but I’ll stick with my 240 for now, thanks.

    2) It’s also a pity that more of Ford’s European offerings aren’t available here… yet. Expect this to change if Ford survives, which I expect they will. If they can get over their cash burn and financing problems, they are in the best position for a recovery of all the domestic auto makers.

    One example: check out the Ford Transit… they’ve sold them for decades in Europe, and they’re on their way here soon. Fuel efficient for their size and a very proven design:

    http://autoshows.ford.com/214/2008/02/06/ford-brings-versatile-compact/

    As much as I love my old Econoline, I’d take a Transit over just about anything else if I was shopping for a van.

    3) Biodiesel is all well and good, but it is only practical for the very few who have the time and patience to deal with its shorcomings. It will never be a fuel for the masses, as there isn’t enough waste oil out there to satisfy national demand, and growing crops to convert to fuel is a losing proposition. When it’s all said and done, diesel = petroleum, and it still creates greenhouse gasses when you burn it, no matter its source.

    4) My money is on the future being electric. Diesels are cool, but they’re just a stop-gap measure at best. So, yeah, I’d like a diesel Focus, too, but I’d like a practical and affordable electric even more and I’d rather see efforts made toward that than toward arguing over which kind of dino-burner we should have.

    5) Losing our domestic auto makers would be no picnic, and we’d all better hope it never happens. Not that they don’t deserve to suffer and suffer mightily for their decades of stupidity and short-sightedness, but you can’t pay the bills with schadenfreude; conservative estimates are that 1 job out of 7 is directly or indirectly related to the domestic auto biz. To those who think that some other North American concern will pick up the vehicle manufacturing ball if the big 3 go away, think again.

    6) Simmering in my brainpan: an electric ’32 Ford! Or an electric t-bucket, all-weather and all steampunked out. Yeah, man.

  30. zuzu says:

    Quickie: I checked the prices at the fuel stations near me.

    Gasoline: $2.20
    Diesel: $3.20

    According to Wikipedia:

    A common margin is 40% more miles per gallon for an efficient turbodiesel.

    However, the price disparity is currently 68% more for diesel than gasoline, a net loss.

  31. HarshLanguage says:

    Remarkably good comments here. If there’s blame to placed on Ford, it’s not specifically that they haven’t brought certain diesels over from Europe. Rather, it’s that they (and other carmakers) focused entirely on massively inefficient SUVs for nearly a decade. They didn’t invest in the design and manufacturing capability of efficient smaller vehicles in the US market. They didn’t work to make their smaller engines more efficient or their smaller cars more desirable. They didn’t work to expand fuel options in the US — ignoring cleaner & better diesels as well as electric, hydrogen, etc. They got complacent, and never gave much thought to anything that didn’t make them a profit right away.

    It should be said that most of the American car-buying public deserve blame too, for ignoring their own wasteful tastes and behavior. And even glamorizing that excess, as with the Hummer and Escalade. It was heartening to see widespread public attention to gas prices in the last 2 years (though I sympathize with those for whom it was a genuine hardship). But now prices have taken a sharp dive (down almost 2 dollars in just a few months), and I fear that we won’t care about efficiency and wastefulness for much longer if prices stay low.

  32. RedShirt77 says:

    The American Auto industry has long made ist strategy to make large luxury and make cheap small crap so they can make fleet standards.

    Of course you regular joe sixpack doesn’t want to drive a Geo metro or a Dodge Champ. They invested nothing in quality and ride. Where you put the quality, enjoyable ride, and most for your money, the market will follow.

    Xenophobia, pickups and Mini Vans are the only reason the American auto industry still exists and if they don’t discover a way to manufacture smaller quality vehicles soon, that won’t even save them for long.

  33. ridl says:

    For everybody disparaging biofuels (which seems a popular stance to take these days (even in favor of nuclear, which is frothing-at-the-mouth loony)): the way it’s being done now is not the way it has to be done. Large-scale use of food crops is a very bad choice. However, local collectives of farmers using part of their harvest to fuel their own tractors, as Diesel originally intended his invention be used, would probably allow more efficient small-scale farming in the long run. Also, non-food crops like Switchgrass (which IIRC, is either nuetral or a net gain in energy harvest v. investment (might even fixate nitrogen?)), and especially Algae, seem very, very promising.

    When new (or long buried) technologies are suddenly being dismissed out of hand after gaining a popularity almost solely through the grassroots and word-of-mouth, there’s probably some kind of disinformation or other general perversion going on. It’s not Biofuel’s fault that Bush and Monsanto sunk their vampire teeth into it. It’s just another obstacle in almost a century of obstacles for a technology that could, if managed intelligently, become a model for sustainability.

  34. Simon Greenwood says:

    The difference between a litre of diesel and a litre of petrol in the UK is about 9p, or roughly 50p a gallon, which I guess was about the same as in the US until just recently.
    Ford categorically prohibit the use of biofuel in the modern diesels though. I drive a 2005 Mazda 6 diesel, which has a Ford engine, and it’s in big letters, unlined three times in red in the manual. It’s something to do with the fuel system in modern diesels. Apparently the best candidates for conversion are 10-15 year old VM Polos (Rabbit to you).

  35. chroma says:

    I’ve got a great marketing slogan for Ford (which they’re welcome to use for free):

    “You can have any color you want, as long as it’s green.”

    Environmentalist types would forgive any shortcomings of the car if it makes them feel like they’re saving the world.

  36. paradesign says:

    There was a good debate on energy policy and potential broadcast on Chicago Public Radio just the other week, and when a panel representative was asked why high mileage diesels are not sold in the US, he gave a surprising answer.

    The gist of the claim was that, ‘Diesel vehicles do not contribute to a manufacturer’s CAFE standards, but do count as vehicles sold’. So all of those 65mpg diesels would count as, essentially, 0mpg vehicles!!!

  37. Anonymous says:

    I agree with the idea that their isn’t enough used fry-grease to make biodiesel a replacement for petrochemicals. Other current sources really ARE taking food out of people’s mouths. But to a large degree, the carbon dixoide emitted by the car was taken out of the air when the plant was alive. So it really CAN be close to carbon neutral.

    Of course it’s possible that the carbon in the petrochemicals was taken out of the atmosphere millions of years ago. But we’re returning millions of years of nature’s carbon sequestration to the atmosphere over mere centuries.

  38. RoadTransport says:

    Lots of good comments in this thread, but a few points could be straightened.

    First off: diesel engines can be converted to run on CNG (or LNG, or LPG for that matter) – either by turning them into spark-ignition Otto-cycle engines (a rather retrograde step, in my opinion) or as a true Diesel-cycle engine, by typically using a very small amount of liquid fuel (eg diesel oil, or even lubricating oil) to initiate compression ignition. Caterpillar did a lot of work on this a few years ago.

    CNG and LNG have issues with range – it’s tricky to make a high-pressure gas cylinder with a similar range to a comparably-sized diesel tank. And home-filling a CNG tank using your domestic supply requires a fairly hefty compressor rig to be installed – not impossible, but another complication.

    CNG and LNG are only really preferable to liquid fuels if the taxation regime is favourable or if particulate emissions are the most important environmental factor: it’s worth remembering that modern diesel engines – using either Selective Catalytic Reduction (aka SCR/BlueTec) or Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) – are massively less polluting than earlier models: the European 2008 standards for particulates from heavy trucks are one-eighteenth of the figure in the 1992 standards.

    There still seems to me to be a clear anti-diesel bias from the US commenters: have they driven a modern diesel car? The thermodynamic efficiency of a diesel is almost always better than that of a petrol engine, and the torque characteristics are brilliant. Even if you’re after a performance car, diesel is an option – check out the latest BMW 330d: 0-60 in 6 seconds, and over 39mpg (that’s per US gallon, not Imperial) in mixed driving.

    And yet again: where the hell is all that electricity going to come from for plug-in electrics and/or hydrogen production? We’d all better hope that the DEMO fusion power plant gets pulled forward – and works…

  39. zuzu says:

    The basis of GM’s claim is essentially that they are too big or too important to fail due to their massive labor force. But how massive is their labor force relative to other American companies? It may be surprising that the following companies employ a larger number of workers than GM: Target, AT&T, GE, IBM, McDonalds, Citigroup, Kroger, Sears, and Wal-Mart. It is also worth noting that Home Depot, United Technologies, and Verizon all employ nearly as many workers as GM.

    The question must be posed: Should the government bail out all 12 of these companies and, if so, at what cost? I doubt that if Wal-Mart, with their 2.1 million employees, went to the government or the American people and demanded a bailout that they would receive much sympathy, let alone money. But if we are going to base worthiness of bailout on number of employees alone, then Wal-Mart is almost 7 times more worthy than GM.

    (I have largely neglected Ford, whose executives are also demanding a bailout. I believe that it is enough to simply state that Abercrombie & Fitch employs almost 7,000 more workers than does Ford. Would the failure of Abercrombie & Fitch’s threaten the economy? I think not.)

    from Yet Another GM Bailout

    even in favor of nuclear, which is frothing-at-the-mouth loony)

    What’s wrong with nuclear? Modern pebble bed reactors are physically meltdown-proof.

    And yet again: where the hell is all that electricity going to come from for plug-in electrics and/or hydrogen production?

    Right. Hydrogen is a fancy battery, not really a fuel source.

  40. Chris S says:

    > Gasoline: $2.20
    > Diesel: $3.20
    > However, the price disparity is currently 68%
    > more for diesel than gasoline, a net loss.

    New math?

    3.20/2.20 => 36% more

  41. Chris S says:

    Uuurgh!

    > Gasoline: $2.20
    > Diesel: $3.20
    > However, the price disparity is currently 68%
    > more for diesel than gasoline, a net loss.

    New math?

    > 3.20/2.20 => 36% more (NO! (oops!))

    3.20 / 2.20 => 45% more

    (must remember – coffee before math)

  42. zuzu says:

    New math? 3.20/2.20 => 36% more

    Thanks for checking my numbers. I wrote it as a “quickie” in the moment between shifting gears between two major projects. For some reason I was thinking 2.20/3.20.

  43. Anonymous says:

    So maybe we need to stop and think about this: gasoline is becoming less available, and is the most facile fuel source for general purposes.

    But are there categories of gasoline use that lend themselves to other fuels? Surely big nationwide trucking companies could use biodiesel from big nationwide users of cooking oil (mcdonalds, pepsico)
    Maybe your household furnace gas could be tacked on (remember, this stuff is what we call ‘fumes’ in a nearly-empty tank) for less than a few hundred dollars.

    It would be nice to be able to not compete in the consumer and corporate spheres — it could benefit everyone!

  44. Fabula says:

    One reason diesel is more expensive in the US is historical lack of demand and the subsequent low production. If it was produced in equivalent proportions as in Europe, the price premium would fall to less than 10% or so.
    So potentially the fuel efficiency/cost saving are there, if the infrastructure is invested in.

  45. toxonix says:

    #35:
    I don’t think the big 3 can get away with much greenwashing. Or maybe they can. After all, Cadillac is selling an Escalade ‘Hybrid’ as a green alternative for those individuals who must have a minimum of 16 empty seats in their SUVs.
    I don’t think the big 3 should get any bailout money.

  46. chroma says:

    #45 Toxonix:

    Greenwashing sells. They’re putting little green leaf logos on big pickup trucks that happen to run on ethanol. Hybrids generally don’t get great gas mileage but are perceived as the green alternative.

    Why can’t the UAW bail out the Big 3? They have a giant pile of assets in their pension fund, enough to buy their bosses out completely. Why haven’t the directors fired the CxOs? Why haven’t the directors themselves been sacked?

    As a side note, a little Googling showed me that the phrase “Any color you want, as long as it’s green,” which I had thought was original, goes back a couple years, with the same context.

  47. Anonymous says:

    Ditto to #33, #38 and #44. Add an AP story about algae as fuel source. http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5jdHg1YaK9Le9h8b9u-dMawFM5WaAD947DIUG0

  48. ds77 says:

    There is a reason why the rest of world including europe and asia primarily use diesel; it is more efficient. I have an f250 pickup with a 7.3 L diesel; but in reality i only need a diesel engine with half the power even when towing at full capacity. Ford uses this 7.3 L in big box trucks that are rated for over 25,000 pounds; but just gear it different. Why not make a 3.6 Liter engine for f250 and gear it different for when towing a heavy load vs. no load. For example, one could have two speed rear end (sort of like a 10 speed bike has 10 speeds by just changing one gear on the rear). This would make it much more fuel efficient when not towing anything and i would still be able to tow at the current full truck/towing rated capacity.

    Its my understanding that ford is going to make a diesel f150 for 2010; but at 4.4 liters and 300 hp; i still think its two big of an engine…you can gear it different go to even smaller engine.

    Its interesting that vw had a the diesel bug that got over 50 mpg; and it was always sold out when you went to the dealers; however, the bug got “outlawed” when the new diesel standard came into effect while the other “big” diesel suv’s continued to be exempt.

    I also find it interesting that even if ford wanted to sell the fiesta in the US it could not as it would not meet the new US diesel standards. Personally, i think the US should adopt the european safety and emmission standards so as to allow US automakers to bring “off the shelf” technology from europe and the rest of the world to us production.

    With all the US safety and emmission requirements, dont expect any small car that is currently made in europe to be made in the US without extreme high costs and further development…the vw bug getting banned at 50 mpg is an example of the problem that exists in the US market(one has to wonder if the big 3 was behind this ban).

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