October 19, 2006


Has Diesel Grown on the United States? (Sholnn Freeman, 10/19/06, Washington Post)

On Sunday, the Environmental Protection Agency began requiring refiners and fuel importers to reduce the sulfur content in diesel fuel by 97 percent. The low-sulfur fuel opens the door to a new generation of clean diesel cars, and automakers are moving to bring out more models in the U.S. market.

The change promises to significantly cut air pollution caused by diesel emissions. Regulators say high concentrations of sulfur in the old diesel fuel poison the engine systems that clean exhaust of harmful pollutants. The biggest concern is particulate matter, one of the byproducts of engine combustion, said Margo Oge, director of the EPA's office of transportation and air quality. The particles are a fraction of the size of a human hair. Public health advocates have described the particles as tiny spaceships that dive into the respiratory system when people inhale, damaging the lining of the lungs.

Particles from diesel emissions are classified by the government as a potential carcinogen and are linked to premature deaths, heart attacks to respiratory illness.

Mark MacLeod, director of special projects for Environmental Defense, an advocacy group, said the new EPA rules are expected to prevent about 8,000 premature deaths each year, 1.5 million lost work days and 360,000 asthma attacks.

Detroit automakers have pledged to expand diesel offerings, particularly in pickup trucks. J.D. Power and Associates projects that the diesel share of light-vehicle sales is expected to increase to more than 10 percent by the middle of the next decade from 3.2 percent in 2005. Japanese automakers are also stepping up development of diesel technology.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 19, 2006 6:25 PM

I drove across Germany twice last summer on 2 tanks of gas. (Opel Wagon Diesel) Turbo charged, and downright zippy.

It's much better than a hybrid.

When I get rid of the Pathfinder, I'm buying a Sprinter. (those boxy vans)

US auto makers ceased building cars in the 60s. Since then, they've been selling "Financing", with the hunk of junk on four wheels as a pretense for going into debt.

Posted by: Bruno at October 20, 2006 1:22 AM

The worst mileage I've gotten with my diesel Jetta is 43 mpg driving back and forth to work in the middle of the winter. During summer highway driving I've gotten as much as 56 mpg. You're right, much better than a Pious, er, I mean Prius.

Posted by: JimBobElrod at October 20, 2006 7:29 AM

Diesel motors spew noxious fumes.

Posted by: erp at October 20, 2006 8:33 AM