Forget the Hybrids, how about 75 MPG Diesels
Gasoline prices in parts of Europe are currently at $9 a gallon. I think it's safe to say that if those prices were ever to reach the United States, it would feel like the sky fell on our heads. With prices that astronomical, you would think that the streets of Europe would be littered with Toyota Priuses, Honda Insights and Chevrolet Volts. However, instead of embracing Hybrids, the Europeans have turned to an old automotive friend, the Diesel engine.
In the 1980's, many manufacturers made attempts to bring in Diesels to the United States. These Diesels were loud and dirty, and few Americans chose to accept them. Since then, most automotive manufacturers have been hesitant to bring them in to our shores. However, in Europe, Diesels were in constant refinement. Each year, smoother, cleaner and more efficient Diesel engines were introduced. How efficient? Well, the 2011 Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion gets a combined rating of 74.3 miles per gallon. That's almost 50% better fuel economy than a Toyota Prius which has a combined rating of 50 miles per gallon. With a standard sized 12 gallon tank, that means you could drive the Volkswagen from New York to the Grand Canyon in Arizona and only fill up once, somewhere in Missouri. That's 900 miles per tank of gas! You might think that there is a tradeoff, but there simply isn't.
The small Euro-spec diesel powered cars are quiet, comfortable and accelerate to 60mph in similar time to their fuel efficient gasoline powered models. It's not like you get shorted on the amenities either, you get air conditioning, cruise control, satellite navigation, and electronic everything. It's no wonder that half the cars sold in Europe are equipped with Diesels.
Here in the States, the images of the old Diesels haven't been lost. We still prefer to keep them in our trucks and busses. We need a total change of our mindset when it comes to Diesels, yet we hardly hear anything about them. Politicians are trying their hardest to be seen promoting green energies and fuel efficiency. They are very vocal in their praise of electrics and hybrids, yet very little about promoting Diesels. If gasoline prices continue the way they're going, we won't be able to ignore it for long. In the meantime, I'm going to let that number roll around in your brain for a minute 75 mpg. Thats a number you can't ignore.
Image source of VW Polo Bluemotion: Wikipedia