Will Diesel Help Our Future?
I've just recently driven BMW's technological powerhouse, the i3, and had deemed it the future of the automobile, just a week or so ago. Now, despite how smitten I was with the increasingly likable i3, I have somewhat turned another cheek. I'm not in anyway discrediting the incredible work of BMW or it's efforts to create a future devoid of gasoline but not of fun. What I've realized, simply, is that electric power, as of right now, is not the answer. I have no doubt that electric power is the answer for the future, it is infinitely renewable and can be harnessed while doing no damage to our precious earth, but as of this very instant, the electric car is not the answer. So we must find an intermediate solution in the meantime, while our greatest minds try and build an infrastructure to house the electric car. And I believe that intermediary can be diesel fuel.
But Diesels blow black smoke everywhere, don't they?
Yes, diesel cars are the ones back in the 1970's that would eject black smoke and soot from the exhaust into the sky and onto closely following cars. However, quite a lot has changed, since then, with the crude oil engines. Modern diesels are just as clean, if not more, than the standard gasoline engine, and are far more efficient. For example; the 2014 Volkswagen Jetta TDI returns a 34 mpg average, while it's gasoline counterpart (the 1.8 turbo four-cylinder) returns 29 mpg. The TDI has a whopping five mpg AVERAGE advantage. That's a significant difference, especially considering that the TDI is cleaner and produces less of those pesky carbon-dioxides that make tree-huggers cry.
Yea, okay, but diesels are loud and slow and harsh.
Again, this isn't 1976 anymore. Sit in the drivers seat of a Mercedes-Benz E250 BluTec diesel and you wouldn't be able to tell if the engine was on, never mind discern if said engine was diesel or gasoline. Are some diesels still a bit noisy? Yes. Some still have that inherent*clack, clack* noise from the outside, at idle, but most are quite and smooth.
A diesel in my Mercedes? Aren't diesels slow and unrefined?
To put it simply — no. Do diesel engines have the rapid 0-60 times you'd be used to if you're an average Mercedes, BMW or Audi driver? No. But what diesels have, is tons and tons of torque and that is what gets you off the line. So despite being down on horsepower, cars with diesels often feel faster around town and at real world speeds, thanks to tremendous amounts of torque which helps surge you off the line. And as far as refinement, those aforementioned German brands have been making fine diesel engines for ages now, and they run just as smooth as the big, luxurious gas engines you're used to.
Isn't diesel fuel more expensive?
Yes, it's a bit more expensive, even than premium, 91 octane, gasoline. However, it's the trade off you make for far better fuel economy, as well as a more reliable longer lasting engine. Diesels have shown far better reliability over extended mileage than gasoline engines, so the extra cost of fuel is far outweighed by the benefits of efficiency and reliability.
Won't diesel engines piss off environmentalists?
Most of the time, yes. Which, in my opinion, is actually a point of argument for diesel. Most environmentalist just want to yabber on about how they like to wear shirts made out of recycled tampons and water bottles and don't actually learn about real environmental dangers. If someone argues that diesel is worse for the environment, they simply are uneducated as the additives used in modern diesels make them cleaner than gas engines, as stated before. Also, fun fact: The beloved Toyota Prius actually cause more harm to the environment during the process of mining and shipping the nickel in its batteries, than a big diesel Benz from the 70's will in its entire lifetime.
So, even though electric power must be the future, that future is too far off. The BMW i3 and the Tesla Model S may modern marvels, but the infrastructure just ins't there for them yet. So in the meantime, by a diesel. And throw out that stupid, recycled shirt.
Photographs from Motor Trend