Diesel Car Owners Decry Bias

some cars at zero pollution
some cars at zero pollution

A Washington based advocacy group named the U.S. Coalition for Advanced Diesel Cars have recently released a white paper to forward its car engine design as part of the technologies that are also fuel-efficient.

The paper’s author is Norman Y. Mineta, the former transportation secretary of then President George W. Bush until 2006, claims that the incentives and other policies given by federal and state governments are biased for electric vehicles to the exclusion of all others. The group said that these incentives should be given to all technologies equally to allow a level playing field for all.

Mr. Mineta wrote, “The desire to dictate solutions based on preferred technologies rather than set goals and develop standards is a bad practice that denies creative innovations.”

The paper details that the incentives for electric vehicle purchases were steering consumer and manufacturer decisions regardless of market forces. They further criticized the recent fleet purchases of government wherein the vehicles were nearly exclusively hybrids or electric vehicles. They claim that some gasoline and diesel engines could nearly be as energy efficient as any other technology.

This claim of energy efficiency by the group is supported with a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study last April 2008 that compared the energy efficiency and emissions of diesel and gasoline engines compared to the next generation all electric and hybrid vehicles. The study showed that these internal combustion engines came within 10 to 15 percent of these categories with the new technologies.

The report though did not provide factors that were used in the study to determine the type or amount of energy consumed during the charging of the electric vehicles or emissions generated by the utilities that provided electricity for these vehicles. It was found that emissions during production of electricity and resources utilized could vary, as utilities in many states are required to add sustainable energy sources to their production line. Thus, the data used for today would not be the same sources used for the future. Furthermore, battery technology has improved by leaps and bounds since the MIT study was undertaken.

The paper further asserted that efficiency improving technologies such as direct injection, variable valve timing, turbo charging and friction reducing parts together with transmissions with greater gear ratios have not been fully utilized in the United States. It is asserted in the paper that the use and adoption of these technologies, together with downsizing of both engines and vehicles would be the best way to achieve energy efficiency goals, such as those stipulated in the revised Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards proposed by the Obama administration last July.

The group claims that a turbocharged diesel engine with an exhaust after-treatment system required for emission compliance would be able to outperform a gasoline engine by as much as 30 percent in fuel economy and 25 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. These improvements would entail a cost savings of $1,500 to $2,500 for a diesel engine vehicle.

Diesel engines are still being utilized in countries with low noxious gas emissions standards. Some companies though have been able to market their clean diesel engines in the United States, though at a premium price. These carmakers are Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen and these companies have opposed the 2017-25 CAFÉ Standard issued by the Obama government.

According to Mr., Mineta, “The conclusion is rather simple. We need to reestablish both the principle and practice of technology neutrality, thus rendering the very best solutions in the years to come.”