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40 mpg Prius vs 50 mpg European Diesel cars

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Posted by perfb on May 1, 2006, 10:03 pm
I noticed in Europe that diesels and turbo diesels are very common (eg
Peugeot) with claims of 50 mpg mileage according to some owners I spoke
to.  They were pretty comfortable cars, too, just not as big as in the
USA, though not tiny by any means, quite comparable to the Prius in

So, given the fact that a diesel engine is ~15% more efficient,
mpg-wise, for the same horsepower than a gasoline engine, and that with
a turbo diesel you can get decent performance AND high mpg, why the
heck are the majority of cars in the USA still gasoline?

Is there some other factor that overrides the inherent efficiency of
diesel? e.g. pollution?  Is that really it?  Or, is it just market
inertia and historically low fuel prices relative to Europe?

Posted by Peter Chant on May 1, 2006, 11:58 pm
perfb@yahoo.com wrote:

I suspect fuel prices.  I had a V6 mustang in the us a few years ago as a
hire car.  I did about 1200 miles in a week in it.  Due to the differences
in fuel prices it was much cheaper than running my 306 diesel back home.
Even when I filled up twice in one day I did not spend much on fuel.
Actually it was not two complete tanks, just that I did not want to run out
of fuel anywhere embarrassing, like in a desert.

I don't understand Priuses, as a technology demonstrator they are
interesting but from what I have seen they are not as efficient as a



Posted by Scott on May 2, 2006, 5:15 pm
 Peter Chant wrote:   "I don't understand Priuses, as a technology
demonstrator they are interesting but from what I have seen they are
not as efficient as a diesel."

I drive turbodiesels all the time in Europe.

Power is not their strong point.  As a breed, they are way less
responsive than the Prius.  Their driving characteristics are not
well-matched to American tastes, at least for passenger cars.  Truckers
love them, of course, but then again they don't mind constantly sawing
their way through 13-speed transmissions to keep their engines in a
driveable power-band.

Add to that: costlier fuel (although that wasn't always the case),
less-convenient fuel availability, poorer cold-running performance,
narrower power-band, more noise, more vibration, more weight and
intractable emissions issues... and it's easy to see why diesels have
fallen out of favor in recent years in the U.S., especially in areas
with tough pollution standards.

Add to that GM's disastrous late-Seventies adventure in marketing
passenger-car diesels, and there is outright antipathy towards this
type of engine here among many folks with memories of those days.

Diesel engines do tend to be reliable and last a long time, though,
since diesel fuel is a lubricant as opposed to gasoline being a
solvent, and the engines must be hunky-built to withstand the high
compression ratios necessary for sparkless ignition.  However, the rest
of the car might be another story.  I've had a Renault turbodiesel
clutch linkage disintegrate on me, and last month a brand-new
current-model 2006 VW Passat's emergency brake jammed, nearly
necessitating a tow.  That Passat , incidentally, also had the single
worst turbo-lag I've ever endured, which was a real disappointment as
the last turbodiesel Passat I'd driven, in 2005, was pretty good in
that respect.  In any case, while diesel engines can be long-lived, you
tend to see fewer really high-mileage cars in Europe than in the U.S..
The rest of the car falls apart just as much, or it fails to meet
stringent annual inspections.

As to the Prius being a "technology demonstrator," I suspect you are
uninformed.  A common misconception about the Prius is that it is
"complicated," perhaps a view you've inadvertently bought-into.  I
believe it stems from the inability of most folks (and certainly most
idiot journalists) to wrap their minds around how planetary gearsets
work, even though they're at the heart of virtually every automatic
transmission and differential manufactured in the past century.
Toyota's brilliant new use for that simple and proven assembly means:
no transmission (not even a CVT, contrary to much inaccurate
reportage), no clutches or torque converter, no synchros, no
hydraulics, no linkages, no throw-out bearing, no shifter, no starter,
no alternator, no alternator belt or idler, no power steering pump, no
pressurized-hydraulics plumbing.  It's all replaced by the two
brushless permanent-magnet motors and the planetary thing.  And a
honkin' battery, of course.  (All of which is warranted for 100,000
miles, more in some states.)  I'd personally say it all makes the Prius
quite a bit simpler than the typical car.  And they're holding up well,
according to Consumer Reports and others.  Forbes just last week ranked
the Prius as one of the ten most reliable cars sold in the U.S.

"Technology Demonstrator"?  All technologies should demonstrate so
well, be so simple, and operate so efficiently and reliably with so few

Posted by alt.google on May 5, 2006, 2:39 am
 Scott - do you have a link to describe the no-CVT on the Prius?


Scott wrote:

Posted by Bob Wilson on May 5, 2006, 10:06 am

I'm partial to:


Bob Wilson

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