For those of you, like myself, who have been wondering when someone would get around to combining the two highest-mileage automobile propulsion strategies, hybrid and diesel, your wait is finally over—almost. French automaker Peugeot just launched their Hybrid 3008, which they call, “the world’s first diesel ‘full hybrid’ production car.” The new 3008 HYbrid4 is based on the award-winning 3008 Crossover – which won the prestigious title of What Car? Car of the Year in both 2010 and 2011 in the crossover category, – with the addition of a hybrid diesel power plant. It also won the best eco-car for 2011 from Diesel magazine.
The 3008’s high pressure, direct injection engine achieves a 20 percent reduction in CO2 emissions when compared with previous generation diesel engines. When combined with the electric motor, the vehicle emits a mere 99 grams of carbon per km. That compares favorably with most gasoline cars on the market today, though, since diesel actually emits more CO2 than gasoline, its carbon emission level per mile driven, is roughly equivalent to a gasoline powered car that gets 51 mpg, which is about the highest mileage rating you’ll find in a gas-powered car today.
This car, despite its outstanding 74.4 mpg fuel economy, will not be slow, not when its 163 HP HDi FAP diesel engine is paired with a 37 HP electric motor, giving it a combined 200HP. Despite its speed, however, you will have to wait, possibly a long time to see it arrive at your local dealer, unless you live in Europe. But take heart. Now at least you know what is possible. And besides, it is only a matter of time, before this car, and/or others like it will be here.
Why have diesels been such a rarity in this country, despite their higher fuel economy? After all, there is plenty of diesel fuel available. All large trucks use it. In truth, it’s because the US has stricter emission laws, particularly in California. Diesel engines in the past tended to produce higher levels of particulates (soot) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) than gas engines. That is beginning to change now, however with the advent of clean diesels.
A whole parade of high-mileage German diesels from Mercedes, BMW, VW and Audi are headed this way for 2012 and they will be legal for the first time, in all 50 states. This is partially the result of the Europeans tightening their air quality standards, pressuring manufacturers to come up with cleaner diesels. The 2012 VW Jetta TDI diesel, for example, gets 42 mpg on the highway, as compared to 33 mpg for its gasoline counterpart. This makes it competitive with hybrids.
And Chevrolet announced its plans to market a diesel version of its Cruze compact that is expected to get somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 mpg.
As the new 54.5 mpg CAFE mileage standards come into effect, we can expect to see more diesels and probably more hybrid diesels showing up in our neighborhoods. This is a good thing. But would this have ever happened in a world without government regulation?
I’m thinking probably not.
RP Siegel, PE, is the President of Rain Mountain LLC. He is also the co-author of the eco-thriller Vapor Trails, the first in a series covering the human side of various sustainability issues including energy, food, and water. Like airplanes, we all leave behind a vapor trail. And though we can easily see others’, we rarely see our own.
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