Amid all the blather from Washington about hybrids, plug-in electrics and other green technologies is an engine technology that is clean, fully developed and ready to make a difference…clean diesel. For the life of me, I can’t understand why we are not having a more meaningful conversation in our country about the advantages of clean diesel.
Actually, I do understand. Diesel is a much misunderstood technology in America. We all remember those diesel Rabbits with black stuff all over the hatchback and a steady stream of vile smoke out the back. Mercedes Benz has been marketing diesels in this country for decades and there are still many smoky, noisy 300D’s on our roads today. Unfortunately this image is the impression most Americans have of diesel technology. Diesels are dirty, slow, noisy pollution machines.
America, the world of diesel has changed. Now we have ultra low sulfur diesel fuel available in our country and the European manufacturers have introduced 50 state emission compliant “Clean Diesel” models (Volkswagen, Mercedes Benz, Audi and BMW all offer clean diesels now). So here’s the deal, now you can buy a diesel that is at parity with gasoline from an emissions perspective (in fact it puts out less CO2) and gets 30% better mileage. Diesel engines also last far longer than their gasoline counterparts. People regularly put half a million miles on diesel engines. The new clean diesels are quiet and offer terrific performance.
What’s the downside you ask? Diesel fuel prices are bit higher than they need be which reflects limited refining capacity and high levels of global demand. Right now diesel is priced in between regular and premium gasoline. New refining capacity will come on line in the next couple of years and that will help diesel fuel prices. The other issue is that the initial price of diesel automobiles is a little higher than their gasoline counterparts.
When I run the numbers, I still have a compelling case for diesel. A car that will last longer, be environmentally responsible and reduce our dependance on foreign oil. Here’s the best part, all of this available today, using well understood and proven technologies.
While I’m sure there’s a plug in electric somewhere in our future, diesel offers us a way to reduce our oil consumption in an environmentally responsible way, today! Diesel may not be the long term answer to our automotive and energy issues, but it is a darn good step on the path to energy independence.
Diesel is part of the solution. Our colleagues in Washington need to embrace it as an option, even if it isn’t as politically fashionable as hybrids and electrics.