Diesel Hybrid, Better MPG But at What Cost ~ Hybrid Car Review
Hybrid Car Review: Diesel Hybrid, Better MPG But at What Cost

Monday, March 10, 2008

Diesel Hybrid, Better MPG But at What Cost

Dollar SignThe new VW Diesel Hybrid, the Golf TDI Hybrid may end up getting 69 mpg (using the European scale). That's really good, considering the current mpg leader, the Toyota Prius, gets 54 on the same test. Diesel engines are more efficient than gas engines, resulting in better fuel efficiency. And so tying diesel together with an electric engine is a no-brainer, right?

Well, not if you throw in any sort of economic sense, it isn't.

It's the same thing you always see, when people start talking about hybrids and diesels. Diesel engines are more expensive than gas engines. Gas Electric Hybrid engines are more expensive than gas engines. Put the two together and you get twice the expense.

Source:VW gets great mileage from diesel hybrid, cost is a hurdle - Mar. 7, 2008

Diesel engines burn fuel using high pressure and heat instead of a spark. The engines have to be more rugged to withstand the strain, so they're more expensive to build.

The other issue is diesel fumes. The new strict guidelines forced diesels out of the US marketplace. But new, cleaner diesel fuel along with restructured diesel engines are going to allow them back in, probably in the coming year. But that new design structure is going to cost you more.

BTW, in case you're wondering about the European marketplace (i.e. Aren't diesels more popular in Europe? How come?) It's because diesel fuel is less expensive than gasoline. The Europeans have increased gas prices steadily to the point where diesel is more cost effective than gas. It's also forced the market into smaller cars.

So, next time you see a diesel to hybrid, keep these points in mind.

About the TDI Golf Hybrid: It may be sold in Europe for years before it would cross the pond to the US. Unless gas prices change to the point where it's similar to what we see in Europe, or diesel engine costs come down, it's just not going to make sense for VW to bring it here.

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Joe Tyburczy said...

The cost of producing a diesel hybrid CANNOT be twice the cost of the entire vehicle. At worst, I'd imagine it might be the extra cost of a hybrid (above that of a comparable conventional car) plus the cost of a diesel (above that of a gas counterpart). I don't think that this would constitute a huge economic disincentive for people who are already opting for hybrids or diesels (especially biodiesels). If they could pay an extra couple thousand dollars beyond the price of a Prius that gets 54mpg to have a vehicle that gets 70-80mpg, many of them would. This would have up front costs, but could very well save money in the long run, in addition to decreasing their carbon footprint -- a significant concern for many interested in hybrids and biodiesel.

Mike said...

Hi Joe.

I did not mean to imply the diesel hybrid combo doubles the price of the vehicle. I mean the diesel hybrid doubles the cost of hybrid engine or diesel engine in parts.

In other words, if it costs $3,000 more for a hybrid engine, then it will cost $6,000 for a diesel hybrid (those are made up numbers, but you get the idea).

You have to also keep in mind that going from 50 mpg to 70 mpg is not the same as going from 10 mpg to 30 mpg. Going from 50 to 70 mpg will save you 85 gallons of gas a year (assume 15,000 miles a year). Going from 10 to 30 saves you 1,000 gallons a year. Your ability to 'save money in the long run' from gasoline costs goes way down, even at $4 a gallon.

Mind you, if you're not buying for economic sense, but for 'green' sense, you should probably consider a plug-in hybrid instead. The expense will be high, but your footprint will be low.

Brian said...

If you want to cover your bases buy a diesel hybid.

Although the cost of the motor is more expensive, the longevity of a typical diesel motor far exceeds a gas motor. Also, fewer parts(diesel motors have 20% fewer moving parts that gas motors) mean fewer possibilities for failure. If you want to reduce your 'footprint' you want to buy somthing that will last a long time. There is no question that a diesel motor is typically engineered with higher strengths because of the amounts of stresses put on the motor by the diesel process itself. OK now for the fuel.

Yes diesel is more expensive in the US. However there are many biodiesel opportunities that are arising. Certainly biodiesel is available (at least in our area) commercially but there are many other exciting possibilities that may come to market in the years to come. (if you buy a diesel your may even last that long) Biodiesel from algea, from woodchips and from other materials are all under research and have been produced. Lets all get on that band wagon and grow our own oil!!!.

I'm a dreamer. Sorry.

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