Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

What is required to convert the USA to Diesel?

  1. Sep 14, 2006 #1

    brewnog

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I'm starting this up in Engineering, but if it starts to go that way then perhaps Russ or Enigma could move it to the Politics forum? Before that happens I'd first like to bottom out technical issues.

    The question:
    What would it take to convert the US (and Canadian) automobile markets to having anything like the same proportion of Diesel vehicles as Europe?

    Diesel cars now account for almost half of all new vehicle sales in Europe. In France, demand for Diesels is almost double that of equivalent petrol powered vehicles. A Diesel Ford Focus will now develop more power and torque than a petrol version of the same displacement. It will also cost far less to run.

    What are the constraints on the US market? Are we dealing with tired misconceptions about Diesels being sluggish, crude and noisy? These are definitely preconceptions which created a lag period in Europe between the creation of quiet, torquey, refined Diesels and the massive sales ramp which followed, I'd like to know if these preconceptions are still around in the US?

    How about emissions legislation? While Diesels are far better for the environment in many ways, is the Californian legislation precluding the widespread sale of Diesels, and if so, is this because of the lack of availability of low sulphur fuel?

    What will come first, a useable infrastructure network of low sulphur fuel, or a surge in demand? Will Diesels ever make it to market in such numbers as have been seen across Europe?


    Thoughts please!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 14, 2006 #2

    Mech_Engineer

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    They need to start taxing the crap out of gasoline like they do in Europe. that would do it :eek:
     
  4. Sep 15, 2006 #3
    They did have a bad rep early on in the USA. Early diesel cars such as the VW rabbit, while being extremely high mileage, were noisy, rough running, sluggish and hard to start in cold weather.

    Now I think the first cost is the main objection (in a pickup type truck an optional diesel engine can cost $4000.00 more).
     
  5. Sep 16, 2006 #4

    Clausius2

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Hey Brew,

    You are ABSOLUTELY right. I live in CA, and Diesel is a forbidden word. You will see diesel fuel in a very few gas stations, and it is very expensive, much more than gasoline. I don't truly understand how this people run these SUV and pick ups with gasoline. It would be unthinkable to do so in Europe. A pick up with 4.0L and running with gasoline in europe??? can you imagine that?.

    I think it is a problem of culture. They don't have culture of saving energy. This is the right place for wasting energy, wasting water and wasting everything included food. And why is it? Because they are plenty of money dude!.

    I have a Firebird, it is 3.0L and runs with gasoline, as every muscle car does (yeah, I'm wasting too:biggrin: ). I think these guys want to feel power beneath the accelerator pedal, and they think that fuel engines can develop more power than diesel ones. What they don't realise is that a turbocharged diesel engine can develop a lot of power and can be very dynamic at low regimes. And taking into account the huge number of traffic lights they have here, it would not be a bad idea to have a TD engine for helping in the accelerations.
     
  6. Sep 16, 2006 #5

    Danger

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I cannot believe that I just saw the terms '3.0L' and 'muscle car' in the same sentance! :surprised
    Whatever you started smoking after you moved to the States, I want some.
    When I mentioned my engine size to some Brit soldiers (they have a training camp near here), they needed a translation before they could envision it. As soon as I explained that it was 7.3L, the first response was "You'd be ostrasized in England." :rofl:
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2006
  7. Sep 16, 2006 #6

    Clausius2

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Hey man, don't laugh at my Firebird. A 3.0 L with the weight it has makes it to be a ****ing flying bullet. Maybe your truck of 7.3 is so damn slow as a turtle compared with my car. :wink:
     
  8. Sep 16, 2006 #7

    chroot

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    We don't need better cars... we need fewer cars. Just my opinion.

    - Warren
     
  9. Sep 16, 2006 #8

    Clausius2

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    That is also true. The americans use the car even for going to shop at the market in the corner of the same street. The curbs here are empty. Nobody walks. Everybody rides. It is crazy!. The malls are in the middle of nowhere, the distances are huge!. So everybody has, in the worst case, one car. There are even races for parking as near as possible of the mall door. The highways have at least 6 lanes, and some so-called streets have 4 in the same direction. But the number of cars is becoming huge!.
     
  10. Sep 16, 2006 #9

    chroot

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I'm not trying to totally derail this thread, but you're right Clausius2, America is madness.

    I personally know people who are seriously considering paying $100,000 for the next generation of lithium-ion powered electric cars... and who, at the same time think I'm crazy because I ride a bike an "incredible" 15 miles.

    Whenever I see people talking about hybrids and diesels -- which are only on the order or 10% or 20% more efficient than conventional gasoline-powered vehicles -- it makes me cringe. I say we'd all be better off if you kept your gas guzzler, bought a bicycle, and just drove the gas guzzler half as often.

    - Warren
     
  11. Sep 16, 2006 #10

    Danger

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Possibly, but I can chirp all 4 of those 33" tires going into 2nd gear (with a damned automatic tranny... which has to go). More importantly, I can climb over you to claim your parking spot. :tongue:
    The Roadrunner, on the other hand, is 446 ci (7.14L), pushing 650hp with low 12 second 1/4 mile times. The new motor that I designed for it will be on the order of 2,000hp. That should alter the times a tad. :biggrin:
     
  12. Sep 16, 2006 #11

    Clausius2

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    If all the americans would use the same engine than you, then if I were iranian I would start to be afraid....

    Pray to God for not having a new increase on gas price, if so your 7.14L and 2000hp will be sleeping in your garage for a long long while. BTW do you already have a bike?. :rofl:
     
  13. Sep 16, 2006 #12

    ShawnD

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Try not to associate size with power. For example, my parents owned some 5L GM vehicles from the 1980s, but they only had 150HP. Yes that's right, 150HP, to run a 4000lb car. Slowest vehicles ever, and the gas mileage sucked. You would be absolutely thrilled if for once you managed to get 15mpg in the city. Cars seemed ghetto before they had computer controlled fuel injection. That's silly that it requires 5L of engine displacement just to make 150HP. My little Honda Civic, through the magic of computers, can generate 140HP with only 1.8L displacement.


    Back to the topic at hand; we don't have diesels in Canada because they're impossible to start when it's -40C outside. For gasoline engines, gas companies make "winter gas" which has more light ends in it such as butane to help get the engine started when it's really cold. A cold diesel engine requires something heating the engine. I suppose you could have something run off the battery, but that would drain your batteries.
    Europe doesn't really get this problem because most parts of Europe are relatively close to the ocean, and there are no mountains blocking the warm air from the ocean. North America has mountains on the west side called the Rocky Mountains and mountains in the east called the Appalachian Mountains. Areas between these mountain regions do not receive warm air from the oceans, so the temperatures drop much lower than in the areas located between mountains and the ocean. Just as an example, winter in British Columbia will never be as cold as winter in Alberta or Saskatchewan.

    On a similar note, Canadians drive to the supermarket because nobody in the world can carry 200lbs of food at a time; that's about 8 thick plastic bags full of food, much of it containing water which is damn heavy. The alternative would be to buy food every single day, so you only need to carry 30lbs per day, but you spend about 2 hours per day (8% of your life?) just buying groceries. That's unrealistic at best.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2006
  14. Sep 16, 2006 #13

    chroot

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    My current car has 240 hp from a 2.0L engine, strapped into a 2,700 lb. chassis. It gets about 28-30 mpg on the highway. I still try not to drive it much.

    - Warren
     
  15. Sep 16, 2006 #14

    Danger

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    There's no substitute for cubic inches. :tongue:
    The thing that I don't like about buzz-bombs is that you have to rev the **** out of them to get that power. As a for-instance, my Camino at idle in low range 50/50 split will push a revved-up Honda backwards in a head-to-head contest. And the gas mileage in high range 70/30 split on the highway is better than my 305 Camaro with cruising gears got.

    You sure got the winter Diesel scene right. The place that I used to work at took over the local U-Haul outlet, and there was nothing that we could do to get those damned things started. (And while I'm at it, I would never in my life drive a U-Haul. There wasn't one of them came through our place that had decent brakes, steering, or electrical system. Our orders from headquarters were to put them back on the street ASAP. We refused a couple of times and demanded a mechanic to visit, because someone would have died trying to use the truck. HQ was very displeased.)
     
  16. Sep 17, 2006 #15
    The major reason is that our diesel fuel is not nearly as refined and clean as the diesel fuels available in europe. Most of those cars would not run too well over here. So the question becomes "Why isn't our diesel fuel better?" Smells like big oil politics to me.
     
  17. Sep 17, 2006 #16
    Also diesels run pretty good in the cold, its' the damn fuel again. It "gels" at a certain temp and then you're screwed. You're supposed to mix a special additive into the fuel when you expect really cold weather. For the record my old poland spring truck was like clockwork. 10 deg F it would run fine, 9 degrees, no way.
     
  18. Sep 17, 2006 #17

    Danger

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Well, sure... wish we could have a nice balmy 10 degree F. winter day in Alberta. We'd go for a picnic in the park. :rolleyes:
     
  19. Sep 17, 2006 #18

    ShawnD

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    A normal winter day in Edmonton is about -13F (-25C). A "cold" Edmonton day is maybe -40F (-40C). Drive a few hours north to the booming oil town of Fort McMurray and a cold day -76F (-60C). Alberta winters aren't even that bad; Manitoba has horribly cold weather by comparison.

    Danger, not all modern cars need to be reved really high to get that power. For example, a Nissan Sentra has the same engine size and torque as my Civic, about 129 ft-lbs, but it's at 2400rpm whereas my Civic is at 4000rpm. As expected, my Honda gets way better gas mileage, but the Sentra could crush my car in a race.

    If you've got a saturday to kill, go test drive a Sentra. I think you would be really impressed. :biggrin:
     
  20. Sep 17, 2006 #19

    Danger

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I don't think so, but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and maybe try it out... when I can afford to get my license. I can't renew it until a couple of outstanding fines are paid off. :grumpy:
    By the same token, I think that you'll change your mind if you can find a nice 440 Challenger, 429 Torino, 455 GTO, or similar. :biggrin:
    Oh yeah... leave us not forget the 403 Javelin. They weren't too popular back in the day, but they go like stink.
     
  21. Sep 17, 2006 #20

    ShawnD

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Don't worry I won't need to find one of those older muscle cars. When I get a bit older looking and more 'serious business', I'll go down to a Dodge dealer and test drive a new Charger. The SRT8 model has a 6.1L V8 with 425HP and 420ft-lb torque. It's a beautiful car too.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?



Similar Discussions: What is required to convert the USA to Diesel?
  1. Diesel engines. (Replies: 11)

  2. Diesel bikes (Replies: 3)

  3. Diesel cycle (Replies: 1)

Loading...