In response to my comment on the documentary Who Killed the Electric Car?, a reader brought to my attention something I never knew (although I admit being mechanically and automotively challenged). In addition to venting about the death of the electric car, he suggests also venting about big auto and the government not supporting diesel engines in autos. He points to this story, which notes, among other things:
Officials of DaimlerChrysler and Volkswagen said Tuesday that their Chrysler, Mercedes-Benz, VW and Audi brands are designing nearly a dozen cars and sport utility vehicles with diesel engines using an emissions-cleaning technology called Bluetec.
Diesels account for almost half of all new passenger vehicle sales in Europe, where concern about greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy has been much greater than in the U.S. But they account for just 2 percent of the U.S. new-car market and can’t be sold in California at all because of emissions systems don’t meet the state’s standards, which are stricter than federal limits.
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Diesels can achieve 25 percent to 40 percent greater fuel economy than comparable gasoline engines but typically cost $1,000 to $2,000 more. In addition, they have a reputation for noise, odor and sooty emissions, in part because diesel fuel here has contained hundreds of times more sulfur than European diesel. But new federal rules resulted in the debut in October of low-sulfur diesel across the U.S., and diesel engine design has been greatly improved because of development work in Europe.
I, evidently, am one of many who suffer from “diesel knowledge deficiency.” In the U.S. it appears there are limited options if you want a car (as opposed to truck or SUV) with a diesel engine. My friendly reader points out he hasn’t experienced any of the alleged problems with his Jetta and that no one would know it was a diesel if they weren’t don’t know that the “TDI” logo on it means it has a diesel engine. And two years ago the Jetta surpassed a Prius both in mpg and how far you could travel on one tank in a test conducted by USA Today.
This certainly isn’t an ad for the Jetta or diesel engines since I’ve never had experience with either. But it’s been nearly 30 years since Jimmy Carter was lambasted for saying the energy problems we faced were the “moral equivalent of war.” It was true then and, sadly, even more true and pressing now as we have done little, if anything, to come to grips with the situation and seem to ignore existing technology that could improve the situation.
I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait till oil and coal run out before we tackle that.
Thomas Alva Edison