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OldRightHander
09-13-2007, 07:12 AM
In mid July I purchased a new van and this time I went with a diesel. That was one of the best decisions I have made recently. The more I see fuel prices fluctuating the way I do, I have to wonder if making more diesel vehicles isn't the way to go.

For years diesels have been primarily commercial vehicles and people tended to steer away from diesel engines in personal autos for a variety of reasons, mainly noise and smoke. With the new diesel fuel out now and the new EPA emmissions standards on diesel engines, I don't see that as much of an issue now.

My van has a 6 cylinder Mercedes diesel. The other day I took a 3000 pound load from Cleveland to Minneapolis and got 20 mpg for that trip. If I only haul about half that weight, or keep my speed under 70 mph (ha!) I can get over 20 mpg. Few gas engines can touch that fuel economy in a vehicle that size. If you put that same engine in a passenger car, the mileage can probably be closer to 40 mpg.

Diesel engines are not as noisy now as they used to be. Mine is very quiet, actually quierer than the V8 gas engine I had in my previous van. The newer ones also run a lot cleaner than in the past. With the new EPA standards, the sulfur content in diesel is now only 15 parts per million, down from the previous 500 parts per million fuel that is being phased out. The new engines with the particulate filter also cut emmissions drastically over older engines. And by the way, for those who are concerned about carbon dioxide emmissions, switching to diesel kind of takes care of that problem as well.

Basically, the newer diesels are a cleaner, more fuel efficient alternative to the traditional gas engine, and they carry a lower price tag than a hybrid. With that said, why are more automakers not stepping up production of diesel passenger cars? Some of the European makers are making more of them, but the domestic companies seem to be lagging behind. Is the American consumer ready, or is the public perception still lagging behind the reality?

Unassisted
09-13-2007, 09:25 AM
I wouldn't profess to know where consumers' thinking is on this issue. But I do have some questions.

How does the price of diesel fuel compare to gasoline around the country? I don't follow it closely, but I vividly remember a few months back when diesel fuel was priced higher than premium unleaded around here. Has the switch to low-sulfur diesel at the pumps affected the price?

SunDeck
09-13-2007, 09:38 AM
We have one of those sprinter vans at my work. I've never driven it but from the guys who do, it sounds like a great vehicle. And I think it's kind of cool to see these Euro-designed vans on American roads.

But we have a transportation economy that is oriented to gasoline, so I wonder if the price of diesel would do the same as the price of gas if large numbers of people switched. Moreover, I wonder if there is enough refining capacity for such a diesel demand- would it require new refineries? Altering current refineries?

And do you still need a block heater in the winter? Running a cord out to your car every night is a pain. When I was driving dump trucks I loved diesel in the summer (for a working vehicle you can't beat them...or kill them) but I didn't like all the work you had to do for them during the winter. Certainly, engines must be better than they were in the 80's though.

OldRightHander
09-13-2007, 09:52 AM
We have one of those sprinter vans at my work. I've never driven it but from the guys who do, it sounds like a great vehicle. And I think it's kind of cool to see these Euro-designed vans on American roads.

But we have a transportation economy that is oriented to gasoline, so I wonder if the price of diesel would do the same as the price of gas if large numbers of people switched. Moreover, I wonder if there is enough refining capacity for such a diesel demand- would it require new refineries? Altering current refineries?

And do you still need a block heater in the winter? Running a cord out to your car every night is a pain. When I was driving dump trucks I loved diesel in the summer (for a working vehicle you can't beat them...or kill them) but I didn't like all the work you had to do for them during the winter. Certainly, engines must be better than they were in the 80's though.

The new Sprinter has a built in heater that does a pretty good job. It's an option. (should come standard if you ask me)

The price varies drastically across the country, mainly because some states have higher taxes on diesel. Last night I drove home from Detroit and when I crossed the state line into Ohio the price of gas stayed the same but diesel dropped. In some places diesel is cheaper than the low grade gas and is some other areas it's more than the high grade gas. As far as refining capacity, that's a whole other question. This country could use to increase refining capacity anyway, regardless of what kind of fuel we're using.

RANDY IN INDY
09-13-2007, 09:53 AM
But we have a transportation economy that is oriented to gasoline, so I wonder if the price of diesel would do the same as the price of gas if large numbers of people switched. Moreover, I wonder if there is enough refining capacity for such a diesel demand- would it require new refineries? Altering current refineries?


You can bet your britches that the price of diesel would do the exact same thing that gasoline is doing if the numbers switched. All the altering that would have to happen to make such a transition would also add to the price at the pump. (At least, they would tell us that was the case. I remember all the problems that adding the pink tint to #2 heating oil caused.) The huge profits that the major oil companies have been posting tell me all I need to know, and that is coming from someone who spent over 10 years in the petroleum business.

OldRightHander
09-13-2007, 09:57 AM
I wouldn't profess to know where consumers' thinking is on this issue. But I do have some questions.

How does the price of diesel fuel compare to gasoline around the country? I don't follow it closely, but I vividly remember a few months back when diesel fuel was priced higher than premium unleaded around here. Has the switch to low-sulfur diesel at the pumps affected the price?

You guys have it pretty good as far as gas prices go. When I was down there, diesel was quite a bit more than gas, but both were still quite a bit less than they are here, so I wasn't complaining.

SunDeck
09-13-2007, 10:02 AM
This country could use to increase refining capacity anyway, regardless of what kind of fuel we're using.

Saying something like that here in Bloomington will get your tires slashed.

Caseyfan21
09-13-2007, 01:05 PM
As far as refining capacity, that's a whole other question. This country could use to increase refining capacity anyway, regardless of what kind of fuel we're using.

This is one of the biggest problems in our country and it's really a Catch 22. There have been no new refineries built in our country in over 20 years because building one is a multi billion dollar expense. Why do people want to invest that kind of money with the push for alternative fuels and lower fuel consumption?

wally post
09-13-2007, 03:29 PM
Diesel is very common in the UK. I've driven around it in a deisel Audi and the acceleration was excellent! (an A6) Also, it got 44 miles to the gallon with two adults and lots of luggage.

Ltlabner
09-13-2007, 05:25 PM
I don't pay any real attention to diesel prices but the few times I have looked, it seemed like it was the same or more expensive than regular.

That said, diesel technology has come a long way since the big, noisy and slow accelerating vechiles of the early and mid 1980's.

BRM
09-13-2007, 05:31 PM
That said, diesel technology has come a long way since the big, noisy and slow accelerating vechiles of the early and mid 1980's.

I agree for the most part. The Powerstroke is still pretty noisy but it's certainly not slow.

Ltlabner
09-13-2007, 05:34 PM
I agree for the most part. The Powerstroke is still pretty noisy but it's certainly not slow.

My father had a deisel Buick station wagon a ways back (one of the ones with the cool 3rd seats that faced backwards). That thing was a beast. We never woried about mosquitos and west Nile virus...we just fired that motha up and the smoke took care of the rest.

Our neighbors had a Desiel Maxima. That always stuck me as odd.

Unassisted
09-13-2007, 05:46 PM
That said, diesel technology has come a long way since the big, noisy and slow accelerating vechiles of the early and mid 1980's.

I don't think my neighbors' 2 late-model diesel pickup trucks went along for that ride down the road of progress. When they drive those things past my house, it sounds like a school bus is passing by.

BRM
09-13-2007, 05:47 PM
I don't think my neighbors' 2 late-model diesel pickup trucks went along for that ride down the road of progress. When they drive those things past my house, it sounds like a school bus is passing by.

They must be Ford's or older Dodge's.

OldRightHander
09-13-2007, 05:50 PM
I don't think my neighbors' 2 late-model diesel pickup trucks went along for that ride down the road of progress. When they drive those things past my house, it sounds like a school bus is passing by.

I've got a 2007 Sprinter and it sounds as quiet as any gas engine out there. This is the only one I've ever owned, so I can't vouch for any of the others, but most of the new ones are quiet and not nearly as dirty.

paintmered
09-13-2007, 06:55 PM
Diesel is very common in the UK. I've driven around it in a deisel Audi and the acceleration was excellent! (an A6) Also, it got 44 miles to the gallon with two adults and lots of luggage.

One of my co-workers drives a diesel Jetta. He averages a touch under 50 mpg highway. I've ridden in it many times and had no idea it was a diesel until he mentioned it over lunch one way. It's very quiet.

Rojo
09-13-2007, 07:29 PM
This is one of the biggest problems in our country and it's really a Catch 22.

Why should they build them? The goal is to squeeze off supply. Shell tried to close down a Bakersfield pumping/refining operation last year! The Justice Department nosed around and they ended up selling it to Flying J.