Diesel Honda Car that Gets 62.8 mpg?

This must rank among the most exciting weeks as far as energy-related news worthy items are concerned in the popular and academic press. I just got done writing about the potential health concerns with widespread use of ethanol E-85, when I read this news report on a Honda diesel car that could be introduced in the US by 2010. This car can get an unbelievable 62.8 miles per gallon on US highways. That is certifieably better than most hybrids, even a Prius. This is fascinating and only proves what I have been saying for a while. Diesel has tremendous potential, especially now that technologies for making diesel as clean as, or cleaner than, gasoline cars are becoming real and commercially viable.

According to the article in CNet news:

 

Honda expects to bring the clean-diesel car to the U.S. by 2010. It gets 62.8 miles a gallon on the highway, but otherwise looks and feels like a regular Accord. At that mileage level, the car is about as “clean” as a new Toyota Prius. But if you run it on biodiesel, a form of diesel made from vegetable oil or animal fat, it would be even cleaner than a Prius (Priuses get 60 in the city).

The advantage of diesel cars, however, is that they pack a lot of power.

The car was shown off with a number of other cars in Sacramento, Calif., earlier this month as a way to promote clean diesel cars and technology. In the ’90s, California passed strict emission controls that restricted the amount of sulfur a car could emit. As a result, diesel manufacturers curbed sales to California and the U.S. in general.

Since then, petroleum manufacturers have devised cleaner diesels that only emit about 15 parts per million of diesel, down from hundreds of parts per million. That satisfies the California law. Manufacturers, meanwhile, have come out with more efficient and powerful diesel engines that get 20 to 40 percent better mileage than their older cars.

“A lot of changes have taken place in the engine, all thanks to electronics,” said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum, which helped organize the Clean Diesel Technology Tour. (Cars from Audi and a tractor trailer rig from Caterpillar were also shown). “Half the cars in Europe are diesel.”

Thus, diesels, usually thought of as smelly, are now environmentally somewhat sound.

Quite interesting to note that the author calls them only “somewhat” sound. What does that mean? A rather sloppy job writing it up…

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11 Responses to Diesel Honda Car that Gets 62.8 mpg?

  1. Charles Lauzon says:

    Bill,
    I certainly agree with CNET article that diesel passenger vehicles hold a significant potential to improve US passenger car fuel mileage and may be poised to make significant inroads into the US auto market, given improvements to not only mileage, but also performance, drive-ability, emissions and odor reductions.

    As pointed out, 50% of EU cars are already diesel, and climbing. Although all auto makers are actively developing diesels and hybrids, in Europe, Peugeot is considered the leading developer of small diesel engines. Soon, Peugeot and others will mass market hybrid diesels in Europe (just like hybrid gasoline vehicles are being pushed by Japanese producers in the US) that will increase diesel motor fuel mileage still further (another +30% gain). The net effect is that hybrid diesels double the mileage of comparable non hybrid gasoline vehicles – a significant improvement. (Downside is that hybrid diesels are expected to cost a about 10 to 20% more, offset by Europe’s higher fuel prices). Japanese producers are similarly preparing the introduction of diesel hybrid vehicles.

    This leaves US auto makers particularly vulnerable to the inevitable next sudden spike in fuel prices; perhaps during a Middle East/African/Russian crisis or due to the rapid rise in motor fuel demand from China and India, likely straining, if not outstripping, supply growth. Nonetheless, both can be expected to lead to significant increases in future fuel prices and, in turn, consumer preference for fuel efficient vehicles.

    More beneficially, sharply higher fuel prices would spur the development of bio fuels, especially sugar cane produced ethanol, said already price competitive. Other bio fuels and their production technologies can be expected to follow. In addition, the switch to more fuel efficient vehicles would temper fuel demand and partly offset economic impacts on consumers (diesel hybrides use only half the fuel of their gasoline counterparts).

    To reduce sudden impacts of spiking fuel prices and promote fuel efficient vehicles, I would urge US lawmakers to urgently adopt staged increases to fuel or motor vehicle taxes to at least European levels (or at least not allow fuel prices to temporarily drop!). This would promote a more orderly changeover to fuel efficient vehicles then would waiting for the next and painful oil shock to do it unpleasantly for us.

    Charles

    Charles

  2. […] and here’s someone else saying the same thing. Hybrids are cool – but diesels are hot! (see here, here, here, and here). Diesel cars already account for over 50% of all new car sales in Europe. In […]

  3. […] powered vehicle would actually be cheaper than buying an ordinary low mpg gasoline car. Remember my note earlier than Honda is introducing a diesel car in the US that will get roughly 62.8mpg? Honda is […]

  4. Shirley Gilbert says:

    I am anxiously awaiting the honda diesel. Hopefully it will also include a wagon or small suv.

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