Bring Back the Diesel Hybrids

| 12/10/2009 4:57:12 PM

Tags: diesel, hybrids, cars, mpg,

Hybrids are great little cars and trucks. I know, I’ve been driving a Toyota Prius in the mountains of Colorado for over four years now. I’ve been amazed by the car. This car’s got serious pep, gets great gas mileage, and handles snow and ice extremely well (with a good set of snow tires). I can drive to western Colorado and back from my home in Evergreen, climbing two mountain passes in the process, and get 53 miles per gallon – if I drive at about 60 miles per hour!
I get even better mileage when driving 60 to 65 miles per hour back and forth from my home in Colorado to my educational center, The Evergreen Institute, in east-central Missouri. During my last trip, I got 55.7 miles per gallon!

Great as the gasoline-electric hybrid is, they could do a lot better. Fuel economy could be increased dramatically by using lighter weight, but equally strong, composites (that is, high-strength, high-tech plastics) to build much lighter, but extremely strong (crash worthy) bodies. Lowering the weight could dramatically boost their mileage, as any auto engineer who understands fuel economy will tell you.

Fuel economy could also be improved by replacing gas engines in hybrids with diesel engines. Although diesel engines cost more, they are significantly more efficient and more durable (longer-lasting) than gasoline internal combustion engines. They also require less maintenance, the savings from which also help to make up for the higher cost.

Interestingly, three major US auto manufacturers developed extremely fuel-efficient  diesel hybrids during the Clinton administration.  They achieved an amazing 70 to 80 miles per gallon! (See accompanying table.) To learn more about these vehicles, visit Autospeed

The French car manufacturer, PSA Peugeot Citroen, is currently developing two diesel-electric hybrid cars.

Diesel Hybrids


ejikeme nzeka
4/18/2013 12:46:14 PM

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12/31/2009 7:36:23 AM

I've got one of these trucks sitting in the yard waiting on an engine replacement, it finally died at 550,000 due to a mistake I made. I measured my mileage in that truck carefully and over a year of driving it averaged right around 50mpg. It's not the cleanest design of diesel around, and maximum speed was around 60mph but as long as I wasn't in a hurry, well I didn't mind 4 dollar a gallon fuel quite so much driving it. When I moved, I used the truck to pull a utility trailer from the east coast to Oklahoma, and the truck, with the bed loaded, the trailer full and also considerably taller than the truck, riding with the throttle to the floor most of the way the mileage dropped to a horrific 45mpg. :) I've no clue why your mileage was so bad, but it sounds like something was wrong. They're small inside, sure, but so was the Dodge D-50 gas pickup I used to drive and that got comparatively lousy mileage, besides. >kreg mendus wrote: I ran a 1981 naturally aspirated VW diesel pick up truck for 167k miles as a commuter. Averaged 37 mpg. You had better be prepared to go no where fast AND like the person sitting beside you. Vehicle has a tiny cab, as small as a MG Midget.

12/29/2009 11:44:33 PM

First off Dan you hit this on the head 100%, but anyone that has watch any TV reports or the movie "Who Killed the Electric Car" will tell ya that DETROIT does not like change, EVER... They want to do what ever makes them the most money no matter what the COST to you, me or the environment. It has only been in the last 10 years that Detroit has acted like they care, because the rest of the country about being green. Right now Chevy, Ford and Dodge all have a small V-6 diesel for the full size pickups that they could sell, but there all waiting on the other one to start selling them. Albert, if you think that the EPA is so bad I go to Peru and see there air pollution and any 3rd world country. I do feel that the EPA has gone over the edge with Tier II and soon to be released tier III. The EGR valve is the dumbest thing that was ever put onto a car or truck. One more little thing to watch for, EcoFuel the worlds first and virtually emissionless fuel to be on the market. This fuel has 93% less emissions than any unleaded fuel on the market in the world. And yes we make a diesel that is the same. A change is coming to the fuel world. More power, better emission and cleaner for every one.

12/27/2009 7:32:57 PM

I drive a 2005 VW Golf turbo diesel. Year round I average 44mpg. As soon as biodiesel from algae or other non-food items are available I will start using it, even if I have to buy in bulk. My Golf has a 1.9L, 100hp, turbocharged, direct injection engine. It has a tremendous amount of torque at low rpm's. more that the 180hp gas engine had at 3200rpm in my last VW. I can pull a 5' x 10' utility trailer loaded with building materials or furniture with ease and still get 38-40mpg. Try that with a gas hybrid. But a diesel hybrid would still be able to do it. I think VW is developing a diesel hybrid. Can't wait to get my hands on one.

12/27/2009 10:06:21 AM

I'm glad to see discussion on the diesel subject. I'm running a 1999 VW TDI, have 272,000 miles on it, and am getting between 45-60 mpg, depending on driving style. We've become gas gluttons with our big V8's that produce more power than we need.

12/27/2009 9:32:34 AM

The problem with filters for exhaust is two fold. The trapped material is nasty and the filter reduces the size of the paticulate matter releasing the worst particals. Why hasn't anyone looked at the good old Rainbow vacuum cleaner for a filteration system? The exhaust would flow more freely allowing better effeceincy and the material would be trapped. The dirty water can be changed and the water evaporated leaving a compactactable mud. There are ways of handling this solid waste. It can even be processed back into fuel.

12/26/2009 1:45:09 PM

As a Belgian I must warn you about being too enthousiastic about "clean" diesel engines. Our governement decided to support "clean diesels" which resulted in a percentage of 80% of all Belgian cars being Diesels. Now, more research showed that "clean diesels" aren't that clean at all! A soot filter uses diesel to heat the soot so that it can eject finer partikels. These finest soot partikels cause astmatic disease. Also these filters use fuel for theis second combustion of the soot. Clean diesels emit less CO2 but it emits more toxic gasses than a car on lead free gasoline. Flanders (Northern part of Belgium) is one of the most dense populated and built-up regions of the world. With all the diesels and fine dust we live one year less! Even up to two years less if you live within a mile from a higway. Diesel emissions cause lung cancer (American Journal of Epidemiology 2000 nr 152) Is that something America would like to choose? I'm driving on LPG. But there's also a lot to say against it. But I think it's the best choice for cars at this time, if you look at air quality, not CO2, until we find better ways to feed our engines. I hope the US and Europe will play a leading role in research for cleaner products and engines. So don't overestimate the polluted air-castle of the diesel prophecy!!

12/25/2009 7:45:03 PM

Diesel systems produce less EMFs for the occupants, but are said to create nano particles that can penetrate deep into the lungs.

john mihaloew
12/25/2009 4:02:18 PM

I believe, like many other things, GM is again trying to kill the EV. $40K for an electric vehicle...gimme a break. The Prius is OK, but could be better. Why not keep the electric motor going with a smaller diesel or gas engine generator that will charge the batteries and run the electric motor, rather than take over the drive system? I've seen small KW generators that will run for over 11 hours on half power, with 3-4 gallons of gas, and these are designed for home emergency use. I had small 1 cylinder and 2 cylinder deisel generators in the military used for deployments. Started great even when sitting for years. These produced 12V DC, 120V and 240V AC and one even did 3phase AC. And we couldn't use these to power a 6HP electric motor to drive a car AND charge batteries....gimme a break. Same design could be used for natural gas, propane, alcohol engines. What a waste of technology.

12/25/2009 3:26:42 PM

Part of the issue with Diesel emissions is they are rated at pollution per gallon, not like gas that is rated at pollution per mile. Make a gas car go further on a gallon and it looks cleaner. Make diesel go 1,000 miles on a gallon and it does not look any cleaner than one that goes 1 mile on a gallon. If they were to start rating diesels at pollution per mile and it will even out and Diesels will come out ahead.

12/25/2009 1:55:23 PM

Albert you need to do you home work. VW has a very nice diesel that meets EPA. I know I have one and get 43-48 MPG without diving like an old guy. second the "PISS" you are talking about dose not go into your engine rather the exhaust. it will also let the engine run "dirtier" which will lower fuel use. you do not have to take my word for it you could check with the people I work for. I think Mack trucks knows a little more about diesel engine then me I just fix them.

12/25/2009 1:20:13 PM

You have to thank the EPA for the NON availability of affordable diesels in mini trucks. They have thought admininstrative rules. Made it just tooo expensive to make a diesel engine.. IN wonderful Europe they do not have the bastards at EPA legislate diesel emmission laws so strick and rediculous that it is just tooo expensive to design an engine. OK some jerk will tell me MB has one OK sure... for about 110,000 bucks... if you can beg a dealer to order one for you. that will buy plenty of expensive gasoline. The price of a MB will never be low enought to justify their diesel engine. Also its mileage is not that great. STOP BLAIMING DETROIT..,. Now you have to inject UREA INTO a diesel engine made here to meet their new EPA regualtions.. And OH yes... that encludes the MB.. So If you are rich enough to own one by robbing money from the working class you still have to piss into your engine or buy piss at the service station.. EPA... is the problem. Congress gave them a blank check..

12/25/2009 12:16:48 PM

I currently drive a 1980 vw rabbit diesel with a 1.6 l. I average 50 to 55 mpg and I do most of my driving at or near 5000 thousand feet in hilly, mountainous terrain. I use mostly bio-diesel, which works fine just have to heat the fuel in the cold. Also I replaced all my rubber fuel lines with viton or equivalent material as well as all viton seals in the injection pump. This is to prevent the residual alcohol, present in the fuel, from dissolving the material. This era vehicle was built with all synthetic, petroleum based rubber. As I understand it, all new diesels today are built with bio-diesel compatible components. Hemp oil has in the past been used as a fuel source, both as feed stock for ethanol production and the oil from the seed has been used as a bio-diesel. The part of the hemp that is utilized for ethanol is what is called the "hurd" this is the inner part of the plant that is surrounded by the strong fibers that are utilized in other products. In fact, starting back in the early 1900's, Henry Ford built a prototype automobile. Forty percent was hemp based materials, and the car ran on ethanol, made from hemp "hurds" or the inner cellulose. Mr. Ford envisioned a car that was "grown from the ground". Unfortunately Mr. Rockefeller (the father of modern gasoline) put the kibosh on Ford's hemp dream, with the 1937 Cannabis Tax act, and the rest is history.

12/25/2009 10:41:51 AM

Yep, 30 years ago, we were there and done that. Seems that unless you get Paris or one of the other Hollywood train wrecks promoting anything the GDP (Generally Dumb Public) will not wake up. They are comfy with the propaganda given to them on commercials where they need the big lugging V8 to commute the 5 miles to work and haul in a few bags of groceries. GM had it with the EV1 even with the minor problems they developed by using bad batteries. In 2000 they had a hybrid EV1 at the Chinese auto show. The extended range hybrids have been available in other countries for years and as noted by the poster below, they have diesel versions of many of the vehicles we drive. Until the control of BIG OIL is taken out of this picture, we will continue to consume and pollute, get sick and wonder why. BTW, using synthetic oils in your vehicle works wonders in increased efficiency which translates to higher mileage. We use AMSOIL in all our vehicles and our 95 Tacoma gets a constant 30MPG, the 91 Celica in the mid-40's and I can't wait to see what the new Yaris will get in mileage as it is coming up for its' first oil change and will get AMSOIL 0W30. Right now we are seeing 42MPG which is above book for MPG. We traded in our 2004 Tacoma that mostly sat as it was too nice to use for more than occasional long drives for the 2010 Yaris which is an economy commute vehicle and the newest in our Toyota fleet. The 91 Celica is coming up to 400,000 miles on all original.

robert johnson_1
12/25/2009 10:23:03 AM

Any vehicle will get less fuel mileage when it is cold. You are pushing through denser air and cold tires have more rolling resistance. Cold lubricants in drive train bearings also have more resistance. Engines are less efficient when not warmed to close to 200 degrees. Fuel temperature would be insignificant. Winter blends have more light products like butane blended in to increase volatility which lowers BTU's. So a 10% drop is not unusual especially on short trips. You can store it in a heated garage but that will use even more fuel.

12/25/2009 10:13:28 AM

While not relevant in discussing hybrid technology, my recent visit to Norway was enlightening. I had two rental cars, the first was a diesel Yaris that got 48+ mpg, the other a Volvo C30 diesel that topped 49 mpg. Even with fuel costs of over $7/gal this was a pleasant experience. Toll costs were more than fuel. And since they seem to have mastered the correct building of roads, bridges, and tunnels (they are everywhere) I found the driving most pleasant. There were diesels from just about every manufacturer and even a visible EV fleet - both the Norwegian Think and the eBuddy were seen around the cities. When I asked our local Volvo and Toyota dealers when we could expect these models here I was given the old "no speak diesel" look.

kreg mendus_3
12/25/2009 10:12:48 AM

You have to watch the trans-fat in the bio-diesel and veggie oil. I have seen several VW turbo diesel owners trash their injector pump seals. I have not seen this run in a mercedes set up. The veggie oil has even more wear issues than the bio-diesel. Bio-diesel can be made for about 1.10 a gallon. Cost of the Lye is high. I ran a 1981 naturally aspirated VW diesel pick up truck for 167k miles as a commuter. Averaged 37 mpg. You had better be prepared to go no where fast AND like the person sitting beside you. Vehicle has a tiny cab, as small as a MG Midget.

kreg mendus_3
12/25/2009 10:04:26 AM

You have to watch the trans-fat in the veggie oil and bio-diesel. The stuff can EAT your injection pump. Several people have trashed their injector pumps in VW style turbo diesel pumps. I drove an 81 naturally aspirated vw diesel pick up truck for 167k as a commuter. I averaged 37 mpg but you better be resigned to going no where fast and like the person sitting beside you. As small a cab as a MG Midget... That is small.

joseph carlin
12/23/2009 7:17:03 AM

I'm all for hybrids and if diesel makes them more efficient, even better. It seems to me that we've already demonstrated that biodiesels are a great fuel for a niche vehicle, based on utilizing byproducts from other industry. I fail to see how it's supposed to be nearly as effective in mass use. I thought rapidly inflating food prices in third world countries to make ethanol from corn was bad enough. I think it's a great use of byproducts like used cooking oil, and as such works well for individuals who want to FEEL like they're doing something for the environment, but it's not a sustainable practice by any means.

12/18/2009 9:23:29 AM

Dan is absolutely right on the money,and what kills me the most is that 25-30 years ago we used to manufacture very close to just such a thing,not diesel electric but yes,VW had a small diesel truck as did Datsun(nissan now)Chevrolet,Toyota,Ford at one time DID manufacture small diesel pickup trucks as well as gasoline models.The pickup trucks today are ENORMOUS,far far bigger than any homeowner or small farm owner or ATV/boat owner needs.Great thing about the smaller vehicles was that you could get into parking spaces and out deep into the woods without having to tear the woods up in the process and still be able to carry 4 x 8 sheets of anything in the back or logs and wood.I ask,what happened?I dont buy a new truck these days because there's nothing out in the market that is small enough to get the job done,in my case going out into my woods trails to get wood. I have a Toyota truck now.If it runs on batteries and diesel fuel,I'll buy it

b. r. kelsey_3
12/17/2009 8:35:31 PM

Dan is absolutely positively right-on-the-money. Add biodiesel to the equation and we now have a real solution to transportation carbon emissions. Only problem is where to get all that UVO. I own a small farm in NC and want to use every last ounce of energy to the max. I am considering converting all of my vehicles to biodiesel. I've been looking for a hybrid-diesel pickup for years but there are none. If I could buy a hybrid-diesel pickup I would buy my own biodiesel kit to make my own fuel. This would reduce my farm operating cost significantly. Additionally, I would purchase a used diesel generator and run it at night and during the winter on my homemade biodiesel. I would use the radiator for water heating and sell the excess electricity back to the electric company. After several years of cost savings from transportation cost and electricity bills I would then invest in a four meter solar panel grid-tied setup, replace the generator’s alternator with a permanent magnet unit (PMU) and tie it to the batteries on the solar system. The PMU would charge the batteries at night and solar during the day – more energy going into the grid. The only reason I would not invest in wind is due to the low average wind speeds for my area in NC. I also own a Prius and have noticed that the colder the temp outside the lower my fuel economy on order of four to five MPG. An in-line fuel system heater would help increas fuel economy.

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