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Hybrid vs Diesel

idletaskidletask Posts: 171
edited March 23 in Toyota
As far as I can see, ULSD and future hybrid offers will hit the US market at roughly the same time. Currently the market is limited for both (Prius, Civic and Insight are the only hybrids currently available, Diesels are mostly trucks territory due to emission laws).


Both ways, the immediate advantage is increased mileages. Hybrid technology still has to prove itself on a large scale (we have to acknowledge for the fact that all three offers come from ultra-reliable Japanese manufacturers). Diesel technology, OTOH, is well proven. Hybrids lead when it comes to emissions, which are a problem for Diesels. Diesels undoubtedly lead on the fun to drive front.

I think it's clear by now that EU has made its choice: Diesel. The tax policy sure helps. Diesel went as far as to equip vehicles traditionally associated with pleasure (example: BMW 330Cd). Manufacturers are no longer afraid to boast about their oil burning engines. From the midsize sedan category and up, the majority of sales on this continent are now Diesels. The only available hybrid here is the Prius and its market share is confidential at best.

What choice will the US make?


  • daysailerdaysailer Posts: 711
    Actually, a diesel-electric hybrid might be the most fuel stingy combination, but I wouldn't care for one. Low sulfur or no, diesel is a less "user friendly" fuel than gasoline and in the USA its price is similar to premium. Won't low-S diesel cost even more? And while the speed-torque characteristic of a typical electric motor is complimentary to that of a high output gasoline engine, it is less so for a diesel. And as for "fun to drive", I can't imagine using that phrase in the same sentence as "diesel". A slow turning, high torque, low power engine may be well suited to urban crawling with an automatic transmission and the A/C running, but that situation is anathema to fun.
  • idletaskidletask Posts: 171
    "And as for "fun to drive", I can't imagine using that phrase in the same sentence as "diesel""

    Well, it means that you haven't driven any modern Diesel :)

    Also, consider the UK where Diesel fuel is actually more expensive than gasoline... This doesn't prevent Diesel sales from skyrocketing, even there.

    The "hybrid" part is called for more than just an engine band-aid in the future anyway.
  • raychuang00raychuang00 Posts: 541
    I think the biggest reason why we don't see more diesel-powered cars is the fact that American-market diesel fuel has too much sulfur compounds per million--which can damage the modern fuel-delivery and exhaust emission controls found on diesel cars sold in Europe.

    Once the EPA mandates low-sulfur diesel fuel (no more than 80 parts per million), then we can apply modern common-rail delivery direct-injection systems and modern catalysts and particulate traps that will allow a diesel-powered car to meet the strict ULEV standard for exhaust emissions. And applying that to minivans, pickup trucks and SUV's could mean we raise the fuel mileage of these larger vehicles as much as 35-40%! :-)
  • john1701ajohn1701a Posts: 1,897
    Gas-Guzzlers are extremely popular. The average US consumer simply isn't overly concerned about conserving fuel. Buying a diesel would deliver great MPG, but that engine is both noiser and dirtier. Diesel power & reliability is well proven and commonly available, yet large numbers aren't purchased for non-commercial use. There's no real draw. Something needs to be done for diesel to become a preferred choice.

    Hybrids deliver something uncommon, an important marketing factor. Prius offers incredibly clean emissions, a remarkably smooth drive (that's dead quiet at times), and an interior that's completely unique... besides delivering great MPG.

  • idletaskidletask Posts: 171
    that people buy horsepower and drive torque. So they should be very, very pleased about Diesels. MPG is not the only advantage. In gear accelerations of Diesel engines are on par with gas engines one and a half as big. As one publication puts it, "a modern turbodiesel 2.0l engine has the peak power of a 2.0l gas engine, the peak torque of a 3.0l on a larger rpm range and the fuel economy of a 1.4l".

    "Dirty" and "Diesel" is now an oxymoron, kind of. Diesel fumes are the exception now. It's been a while since I've seen a Diesel passenger car stink from the back, and remember that I'm surrounded by them. Let alone a "smoking Diesel". These are close to nonexistent now, plain and simple. Even 36-tons trucks.

    I was in fact looking into the future. It looks like the next hybrids will hit the market at the same time U(ltra)L(ow)S(ulfur)D(iesel) will be available too. Hence the topic. With Jeep (Liberty), Mercedes (E320 CDI), VW (90 and soon 130+hp TDI) starting to bring up to date Diesels as soon as this year or next year, I think it will be interesting to see what happens.
  • tbonertboner Posts: 402
    I hear you. While you get to live it, I just read about it in magazines such as TopGear.

    Would really like a diesel as my work car.
  • daysailerdaysailer Posts: 711
    but if it cannot be sustained to engine speeds where it constitutes significant power, its value to rapid motoring is limited. Such has been the case for all diesels which we have seen in the USA to date. Perhaps there are better diesels in other parts of the world, but today they are irrelevant to the US buyer.
  • idletaskidletask Posts: 171
    You should understand low rpm. But low rpm doesn't necessarily mean low speeds. As an example my 330d runs at a leisurely 1700 rpm at 55 mph. At 75mph the needle shows 2200 rpm. At 100 mph it is only a little above 3000 rpm... with power to spare. Its peak torque (288 lbft) is achieved from 1700 up to 3200 rpm. Fast? Yes, sir. The only thrill which you don't get is revving above 4.5k... I can do without it, thank you very much :) Especially when I compare what mileage I get vs what a 325i gets... And I don't even talk about the 330i. A different way to drive...
  • 8u6hfd8u6hfd Posts: 1,391
    And as for "fun to drive", I can't imagine using that phrase in the same sentence as "diesel""

    but if it cannot be sustained to engine speeds where it constitutes significant power, its value to rapid motoring is limited. Such has been the case for all diesels which we have seen in the USA to date

    When is the last time you've driven a VW TDI?

    Yes, the Golf, Jetta, and New Beetle TDI can do 120 mph...I guess that's not fast enough.

    70-100 mph in 5th gear? Not too much trouble. It suprises some owners (friends) of more sporting cars (350Z, WRX, & G35c) how effortlessly it does this.

    IMHO, the 2 things that kills the joy of driving are the laggy drive by wire system and the heavy dual-mass flywheel.

    You you said might be true for the old diesels which has been permanently engraved in people's minds, but modern diesel is available in the US.

    Due to its power-torque characteristcs and its tall gearing, you can't drive it like a gasser. The best performance really comes from short shifting.
  • daysailerdaysailer Posts: 711
    BMW has long produced the most civilized diesels that I've encountered, although I've not had the opportunity to drive one. A decade ago, I and my family were met at the Bordeaux airport by friends in a 3 series and I didn't realize that it was a diesel until I arrived in Angouleme and smelled the exhaust. The few comments that I've read about the 330d have been quite favorable but, if I could afford such a car I doubt that the cost of fuel would be a great concern. And as I said before, nothing diesel powered of that calibre has reached these shores.

    As you said, it is a different way to drive but probably not one that I would find as satisfying as that which I currently prefer. The engines that I've found most exhilarating are those with thrust that continues to build to a high rpm limit. Such engines typically don't reach their stride until about 4k rpm, long after most diesels are ready for the next gear. But if and when a diesel with the performance of the 330d reaches the USA at the price of a Honda, perhaps I'll seek a test drive.
  • daysailerdaysailer Posts: 711
    Ive never driven the VW TDI, but with only 90 hp available in a 2900lb car, I probably won't. Rrecently a Golf TDI was unable to even match the acceleration of my 11 year old Mazda MPV, which is NOT quick, yet he was obviously trying.

    An engine with lots of low rpm torque, but little power, gives the IMPRESSION of speed without the danger actually moving quickly.
  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,730
    be a solution that interests many in the US. After all a VW TDI may get to 120 sooner or later but 0 to 60 is the standard most cars are judged by here. About the only car slower than a Hybrid to 60 mph is a TDI. Car and driver has them at close to 13 seconds and you could set a sundial to get their quarter mile speed. That is a joke by the way. We could embrace diesel here if they hadn't attached the big Cancer word to them. A copy of one of the statements of resolution from California is as follows.

    "1. In California diesel particulate matter (PM) accounted for approximately 70 percent of all air toxics in 2000 and the average potential cancer risk associated with diesel PM is over 500 excess cases per million people;

    This will make it a long road to hoe as they say. Good luck to them.
  • uga91uga91 Metro AtlantaPosts: 1,065
    First, the VW may only produce 90 hp, but it also has, I believe, 155 ft-lbs of torque. It is the torque that is important here. But, I think the hybrids will win out in the USA. They have an almost "sexy" appeal to them with all the glorification Hollywood has given them. I think consumers will find hybrids to be "futuristic" and the "cool" kind of car to own. Diesel brings connotations of big trucks and the loud mid-1980's Mercedes-Benz 300D. I know the new low sulfur diesel will be different, but perceptions take decades to change. Even though Consumer Reports tagged the Sonata and Santa Fe as "Recommended" and the Elantra has the "Editors Most Wanted" designation, many people still equate Hyundai with the late 1980's Excel. I think diesel engines will be the same way. Besides, it's apparent that companies like GM are jumping into hybrid technology with both feet. The Malibu, Silverado and VUE are all GM products that either are or will be sold with hybrid engines. I believe Toyota will have a hybrid Highlander and Ford will have a hybrid Escape. It looks like hybrid will be the way to go in this country for a while.
  • idletaskidletask Posts: 171
    Look at it this way: sure, GM, Ford have hybrids in the works. But all of the big three already have modern Diesel technology a snap of the fingers away:

    * GM owns Isuzu, which is the first Diesel engine manufacturers volume wise, before Peugeot; moreover it collaborates with Fiat for yet more engines;
    * Ford has developed Diesel engines for the EU market, and is cooperating with Peugeot for more;
    * Chrysler is now owned by Daimler and therefore has all of Mercedes' Diesel engines at its disposal.

    So, if hybrids fail, they can switch easily... And the same is true for Honda, Toyota and Nissan as well.
  • daysailerdaysailer Posts: 711
    Its not a matter of diesel OR hybrid, even greater fuel economy could be achieved with a diesel-electric hybrid (for those who could tolerate a diesel :) ). If there were a suffient market, manufacturers could offer hybrids with either type of IC engine with appropriate changes to electric drive characteristics.

    The 90hp VW TDI might actually achieve adequate performance if it were augmented by electric drive (provided that the increase in mass could be minimized).
  • 8u6hfd8u6hfd Posts: 1,391
    The 90 bhp TDI already has more than adequate don't realize it because, as you said, you haven't driven one.

    Driving the TDI...compared to my last car...Camry V6, it just about equals its in gear passing acceleration times.

    0-60 & 1/4 mile times are two common references that gives us an idea of performance. Though it doesn't give the whole story.

    Since that is one metric we're looking at, how about another one? How about Handling tests. How about Braking?

    I'll be very suprised if you're going to tell me that the Insight and Prius both offer superior handling to a Golf TDI, Jetta TDI, and New Beetle TDI.

    For CARB, it was discussed in other threads....the head guru at CARB is now starting to embrace modern diesels

    For proof: see The Future of Diesel in Sporty Cars -- any chance? thread in the Coupes, Convertibles, and Sports Cars section, message #307

    Here's another wildcard....alternative fuels.
  • daysailerdaysailer Posts: 711
    Apparently we have different definitions of "adequacy" and no, I've not driven a VW TDI. But diesels and VW have not repealed the laws of physics and 62hp/ton does not a rapid car make. In any discussion of the RATE at which work is performed, power is the relevant parameter. Yes, abundant low rpm torque is nice, it provides good "driveability", particularly when crawling along in urban traffic and the strong initial "kick in the pants" even provides a sensation akin to that of rapid acceleration. For those who can be satisfied by what seems to be rather than what is, perhaps that is adequate.

    You and others have also referred to "in gear" acceleration as important to you. although I'm not certain what this means, I'll assume it refers to acceleration without shifting to a more appropriate gear. For my part, it is unimportant how a car accelerates in a particular gear so long as there is an appropriate ratio available for the conditions of the moment (if shifting were an obstacle, I'd drive an automatic).

    It CAN be said that teh VW's acceleration is better than other cars of comparable fuel economy except perhaps the Honda Insight (depending upon whose test numbers you compare).
  • 8u6hfd8u6hfd Posts: 1,391
    How about this.....Prius is CVT only. Civc/Insight...CVT or ridiculously tall gearing for the manual transmission.

    How many people actually do 0-60 WOT sprints in their daily routine? Maybe you do...but the customers who buy Hybrids or diesels tend to be light on the throttle to maximize their fuel efficiency.

    If you're looking to miminize your 0-60're looking at the wrong segment of the market. The customers in this market are not as concerned with 0-60 acceleration times, they are more concerned with fuel efficiency.

    Have you driven a hybrid? Me, yes. Overall would you consider it to be more fun to drive than a VW TDI?
  • idletaskidletask Posts: 171
    "But diesels and VW have not repealed the laws of physics and 62hp/ton does not a rapid car make"

    Well, go drive a TDI... See for yourself... And you'll learn that torque matters more than power! It's as simple as that. Power dictates the speed you can reach, torque dictates *how fast* you can reach it... 90hp can lead you at a fast enough speed, and 155 lbft help you get there with ease...
  • daysailerdaysailer Posts: 711
    is an adequate measure of a car, but there is a minimum for each parameter for me to consider it. As I suggested, the acceptable range may change over time as that of the vehicle population changes since that is the reference. The hybrids are lacking not only in acceleration but handling and braking as well.

    When a Hybrid/diesel/AFV or whatever provides competitive performance at a competitive value, I'll consider it.
This discussion has been closed.