The rise and rise of diesel

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Yesterday's review in the UK Sunday Times of a diesel vehicle gives a good perspective on the popularity of diesel engines cars in Europe.
http://driving.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,12929-1142126,00.html
Overlook the fact that the car reviewed is a Jaguar (and the journalist doesn't like the shape) -- focus on the comments on the engine. This article is written in Britain, where there is no fuel-price advantage vis-a-vis petrol.
Chief rivals are, of course, Merc and BMW. See the comment on the BMW (530d): "formidably better, in almost every way, than petrol version"
North American (sceptical) readers take note...
For those who are interested and have trouble following the link I have pasted the whole article below my signature.
DAS
June 13, 2004
Jaguar S-type by Andrew Frankel of The Sunday Times It's a beauty - if you close your eyes
Do you know someone whose natural talents are being held back by an outside force beyond their control? A bright, vivacious person full of good ideas, destined never to be properly appreciated because of something intangible that restrains them? If that person were a car manufacturer, it would be Jaguar. Having spent their recent past selling under-engineered cars on the strength that they were beautiful, they've now managed to turn the tables. Today's Jaguars are impressively engineered, more reliable than Mercedes cars, and usually pretty good to drive. Yet all, save the aged XK coupé, are to some extent held back by their appearance.
It's not that they're ugly, merely that they're inappropriate to Jaguar's 21st-century aspirations and likely to lose potential sales in exactly the same way that GQ magazine would if sold with Country Life's front cover. The X-type and S-type saloons look odd and old respectively, while the technologically groundbreaking and otherwise convincing XJ looks designed to appeal to those with ambitions no greater than mounting a bloodless coup for the chair of the local golf club.
It may look old, but in fact the car in the picture is the brand new V6 diesel model. By S-type standards it's sure to sell by the barrowload, but you can say as much about any diesel executive relative to its petrol siblings, so significant are the extra travelling range, fuel economy and reduced tax burden these cars afford. But is that enough to place the newest S-type on the shopping list of those who have hitherto thought of BMW, Mercedes and Audi as the only serious players of the executive game?
This is the best engine yet to find its way into an S-type; indeed, if fitness for purpose is your guide, I will argue that it's the best engine to be used by any Jaguar since the V12 of the E-type in 1971 (and possibly the classic twin-cam six first seen under the bonnet of the XK120 in 1948).
This twin-turbo diesel V6 develops 206bhp and a thumping 320 lb ft of torque at under 2000rpm, and offers highly competitive economy and emissions. In these regards it compares well with the best engines offered by its rivals, but where it exceeds even their lofty standards is in its refinement. Even the best diesel engines become distinctly vocal in the upper reaches of their rev ranges . . . but not this one. Although I haven't tried them side by side, I doubt that even Audi 's 4 litre V8 diesel in the A8 could beat the Jag motor's eerily smooth and silent running. This engine will see the S-type past 60mph in 8.2sec and on to the far side of 140mph, its six-speed automatic gearbox proving the perfect partner. And it will do 36mpg in normal running.
It is hard to find any fault with this S-type, as long as you confine your observations to the manner in which it dispatches all roads, from urban to rural. Its ride is pleasant, firm enough to imply sportiness yet sufficiently smooth for Jaguar comfort, while its handling is engaging enough to make up for the ultimate technical superiority of BMW's 5-series.
Living with it is a different matter though. A minor restyle - can you spot it? - has done little to alter the perception that, visually at least, the S-type shape remains the automotive equivalent of the Blues Brothers 2000 movie - an ill-conceived attempt to plunder an original classic that should have been left well alone. That swooping body shape is not exactly space efficient, as anyone who has travelled in the back of one knows.
Given these limitations and the fact that they can only be properly addressed by an all-new car (still a couple of years away), it is to the S-type's considerable credit that it remains so likeable. Indeed it is little short of astonishing when you consider how easy it was to dislike when new in 1998; unlike wines, cars rarely improve with age, though the S-type undoubtedly has.
As a company, Jaguar has an interesting future ahead of it. All its current product was styled under a regime that ended five years ago; now a man called Ian Callum is in charge and his credits include the Aston Martin DB7, Vanquish and (some say) no small part of the DB9. The first all-Callum car will be next year's XK8, followed in 2006 by the new S-type.
If Callum can make Jaguars as good to look at as they now are to drive, the company clearly faces a very distinguished future.
VITAL STATISTICS
Model: Jaguar S-type 2.7D Engine type: V6, 2720cc Power/Torque: 207bhp @ 4000rpm / 320 lb ft @ 1900rpm Transmission: Six-speed automatic Fuel/CO2: 36.0mpg (combined) / 208g/km Performance 0-60mph: 8.2sec / top speed 141mph Price: £31,670 Verdict: The best S-type, even if looks are dated Rating:
THE OPPOSITION
Model: BMW 530d, £31,900 For: Formidably better, in almost every way, than petrol version Against: Looks likely to split opinion, avoid silly variable-speed steering option
Model: Mercedes E270 CDI Elegance, £30,925 For: Refined, frugal, comfortable and spacious Against: Lacks punch of some rivals, hit-and-miss dealer service
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Does the UK reduce tax on Diesel cars? In germany it is just the opposite. Tax on Diesel fuel is low (to protect commercial transportation) OTOH tax on diesel passenger cars is high, to get the people's money the other way 'round.
Frank
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The price of diesel cars is not subject to a different purchase/sales/value-added tax (I believe that is/was the case in some western European countries).
The annual VED (vehicle excise duty, 'road tax') is the tax you pay to register the car.
I have taken as examples the Merc C-Class under current Euro III standard:-
- W203 saloon C 200 Auto: GBP 160 (same as my CLK 320 Cab)
- W203 saloon C 220 CDi Auto with 195 tyres: GBP 155.00.
and
BMW 3-series E46 saloon under Euro III:-
- 320 manual: GBP 160.
- 320d manual GBP 135.00
- 330d manual GBP 155.00.
The figure depends on CO2 emissions.
If anything, modern diesels attract slightly lower VED but, actually, this road tax will hardly make a difference to anyone who can calculate because it does not go down by much, even with substantially less emissions.
For comparison, the Smart City Coupe Hatchback Smart & Passion versions cost GBP 75 per annum under Euro III & IV.
You can look more vehicles up here:
http://www.vcacarfueldata.org.uk/ved /
Company-car tax (an addition to income tax for driving a company car, which is -- rightly -- seen as an addition to personal income).
In Apr 2002 a CO2-emissions-based system was introduced.
Under the Euro III norm diesel cars carry a 3% penalty which is, however, waived for any cars meeting Euro IV.
More details from the Automobile Association (AA):
http://www.theaa.com/allaboutcars/companycartax/cartax_exp.jsp?page=home
Thus I am not sure why the reviewer wrote about a reduced tax burden unless he meant that this new Jag attracts a lower tax burden than its predecessor. Too much work to find out...
DAS
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People in Europe has a price advantage on their heating oil... I heard UK diesel is over $6 a gallon... and their heating oil is only$1.50 a gallon... I read this on a forum... but not sure if true... if so, wow... heavily taxed.
I'd like to know from folks in Europe on their diesel and heating oil cost. Thank you.
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Tiger wrote:

Heating oil     0.3743 EUR / liter ( < 2000 liters - 6% VAT incl. )     0.353 EUR / liter ( > 2000 liters - 6% VAT incl. )
Diesel     0.845 EUR / liter (21% VAT incl.)
Petrol 95 Oct.     1.137 EUR / liter (21% VAT incl.)
Petrol 98 Oct.     1.166 EUR / liter (21% VAT incl.)
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WOW!...Heating oil cost only 44% of diesel... US is not that big... maybe only 20 cents difference from current price of $1.75 I think.. So people of Belgium can use heating oil in their car if they want... add 1 quart of kerosene to every 5 gallone of heating oil to keep the fuel liquid during cold climate.
Although I must warn you... it is illegal to do anywhere... but unlikely to catch you. They will check big rigs and farm equipments where fuel consumption is high... unlikely to check on cars.
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No, they can't. I am not aware that heating oil and diesel fuel are the same thing. Aren't they a different cut?
In the UK the 'big' issue is the use of agricultural diesel (lower taxes) but there is a colour difference and if you are caught (farmers being subject to the greatest temptation) the penalties are very heavy.
In the UK most domestic households use natural gas for heating not oil, and I would have thought this applies to all countries abutting the North Sea, Belgium included.
Diesel fuel costs about 80 pence per lire in the UK, perhaps more. I don't have diesel and only rarely visit filling stations because I only do about 5K miles p.a.
Right now petrol has been climbing because of rising crude prices, just like in the USA, but remember that the government take is vast in western Europe, which is why the prices of 'non-motoring' petroleum products are so much lower (more 'normal').
This is why all the bleating about fuel prices in North America elicits no sympathy, well, maybe crocodile tears, from Europeans.
It also explains why fuel economy is so much more important in Europe and elsewhere in the world and why many people outside NA feel that the NA fuel prices are too low as profligacy is effectively encouraged or at least not reduced.
DAS
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I routinely get marine diesel as heating oil here in the USA. There's no difference in formulation, only in color to distinguish between taxed and untaxed fuel.
Chas Hurst

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Exactly... they are the same stuff...
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Tiger wrote:

Not in the UK. Heating oil is kerosene but diesel engines will run on this as long as some lubricating oil is added to protect the pump. It stinks though, so is easily detected by nose. If one must run an offroad vehicle on the stuff, then a safe blend is 1 to 1 diesel to kerosene with a gallon of super universal oil to every 50.
Huw
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There is also City Diesel (for vehicles) which has a very low sulphur content.
John

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Dori A Schmetterling wrote:

At least here in Germany they are - only difference is that with heating oil a red dye is added for easy differentiating.

No German farmer abuses cheap agricultural diesel, it is just coincidence German farmers drive diesel cars since WWII...

Just read today that in Germany ncirca 50 per cent of all households are heated by natural gas, but _if_ I see it right most detached and semi-detached houses are still heated by oil.

Here in Germany it is 92 cent per litre diesel and 112 cent per litre regular, super is 114.

Read in the current issue of German car mag AUTO BILD that in the US sales of gas guzzling SUVs fall: Ford Expedition minus 34 per cent, Lincoln Aviator minus 39 per cent, Nissan Pathfinder minus 28 per cent, Chevy Suburban minus 21 per cent in April (dunno compared to which other point in time - March?). Also stated is that GM gives a rebate of 4.000 USD for SUVs like the Trailblazer. But on the same hand Ford develops a new V8 gas engine named _Hurrican_ with 6,2 litre displacement as rival for the Chrysler 5,7-Hemi...
Lets face it: ALL American governments since the first so-called oil crisis is 1971 failed to reduce dependancy on oil - a shame in such a big country like the US where is so much alternative energies like wind, water and sun available; and NO, I am NOT one of these green folks who hate cars, but I can clearly see the US - and the world - would be off much better if the US governments would not have slept in terms of oil since 1971.
And the next danger is from China where motorization explodes = need for oil explodes...
...this means we all have to face the time of cheap oil is over forever.

See above: All US governments slept since 1971. Next thing to watch is China (see above, too).
Juergen (from Germany)
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wrote:

that just isn't correct, as an example fleetwide fuel economy is over 200 % better than 30 years ago. Cars in the us averaged 9 mpg then now it is almost 20 mpg
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"127.0.0.1" wrote:

Yes - but trucks and SUVs are not part of that calculation, they are excluded from it as they are not defined as passenger cars and so do not count. Include them - most are driven privately by people instead of saloons - and the picture is much worse than you state (sorry, I do have no figures at hand - someone else maybe?).
Juergen
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wrote:

all true, but today's trucks and suvs get double the mpg than the huge cars of the 70's excepting one or two models which make up a minute amount of vehicles
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This is true that SUV's and light trucks do not count, but it is also true that even including them mileage figures have improved greatly over the years. US cars, trucks and SUVs are far more efficient with fuel than they were 30 year ago. Hell, thirty years ago they were probably wasting gas out the emissions, like a 2-stroke.
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Juergen . wrote:

They may have failed, but it wasn't for lack of trying.
First, there's the CAFE standard (Corporate Average Fuel Economy). All vehicles sold by a carmaker must meet a certain fuel economy figure when averaged together. Our low gas prices certainly don't encourage it, so the economy of American cars is mostly due to the legislation. Unfortunately, SUVs fell through the "truck" loophole, plus CAFE was rolled back a couple of times. There are plenty of green-minded people in the US, but corporate interests usually win in Congress.
Second, there has been much investment in wind and solar power, with huge tax breaks, etc. It's only now that these technologies are starting to be able to compete with traditional forms of energy, after 30 years of propping them up with tax dollars.
Another problem is, there isn't enough of this to go around for our population, especially considering the resources aren't necessarily where the people are. We only have so many rivers, and so many areas where wind power is feasible. I'd like to point out that Europe, especially northern Europe, is both wetter and windier than the western US, and distances between these resources and cities not that great.

There's nothing wrong with being green. Cars are wonderful -- in moderation. Being effectively green is about knowing when enough is enough.
The US Green Party is interesting -- primarily devoted to land use issues and sprawl. This is really the problem -- that we're too reliant on individual motor transportation -- or that cheap motor transportation has subsidized poor land use. Europe has always had a tradition of village life, and economic constraints that encouraged it. The US is rediscovering it, hopefully not too slowly.

As I said, no one's sleeping. There's a constant battle going on, but corporate interests usually win. Some say the only reason the US government isn't considered corrupt is that the corruption is actually legal!

Very true.

Oil exporting countries will keep the taps open enough to maximize profits -- if they allow oil to get too expensive, demand drops and so does their income. So in a laissez-faire situation, we would probably have cheap oil until it's close to running out, then a rapid increase in price (as well as war and turmoil). As long as the current despots have their palaces and Bentleys in every color, while their people starve, why should they care about future generations? They'll take what they can in their own lifetimes.

How can we tell them what to do, unless we set an example ourselves? If you think the US has polluted the world, you ain't seen nothin' yet...
Matt O.
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wrote:

the world's worst polluters are the europeans and then the asians, trying to blame the US for the world's pollution problems is an easy way to avoid their own problems
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isn't "buying" other lesser-developed countries CO2 emissions allowances from them, because unlike the USA, we can actually get pretty close to the required levels within the alloted timescales. Where's your argument now? Face it, the USA is one of the world's most heavily polluting countries, not always immediately apparent until you look deeper into it. They were, after all, one of a very small number who refused to sign up to (I think) the Rio Summit agreement on CO2 emissions, as they knew that they couldn't (or didn't want to!) meet the reduction targets. Environmental legislation in the UK is now at such a level that you cannot start a commercial process of any kind until it has been approved by the EA (Environment Agency), and any possible effects of any emissions that that process may create have been evaluated. There are various lists of prescribed processes, and a list (I think it's referred to as the "red list") of processes that you just won't be allowed to do at all. I can't speak for the Asians, I haven't looked into it that far, but I doubt if their total emissions comes anywhere close to the USA's totals. Badger.
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Actually I think that CO2 emissions are inappropriate to restrict, as this gas makes up a significant fraction of the atmosphere.
Developing countries, China included, spew out a lot of real junk from their factories and consider the criticisms from the developed countries a luxury they cannot afford. After all, think of the pollution following the industrial revolution. More recently look at the toxins emitted in the former communist countries. E.g. large tracts of Poland are badly polluted.
As regards alternative energy sources (see also Matt O'Toole's comments), it's not that simple. Already we are seeing a backlash in the UK against large, ugly windmill farms. Let's go nuclear.... ;-)
DAS
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