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  1. #1
    Banned. folder fanatic's Avatar
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    Compromises With The Smaller Car When You Cannot Cycle?

    I know that this is the Living Car Free forum. Now I would like to pose some questions and insight on small cars that are coming out as some people are rather forced into car usage due to various good reasons. For the Record: I prefer to ride my bikes over driving and especially car ownership. But because I live and work in an region that is geared for cars....sometimes using a car over the bike is unavoidable. But if you look inside the car I am driving, you will probably see one of my folding bikes always beside me!

    http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/video?id=7851883&pid=7851880

    http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?section=news/car_tips&id=7851880

    (Transcribed Print Version Below)
    Smaller cars making big comeback in U.S.

    Dave Kunz

    LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Smaller cars are starting to make a comeback, with good gas mileage and generally low sticker prices.

    Some of the newest cars have big-car features inside small packages.

    Ford made a proclamation a few years ago that it was shifting its focus more toward cars instead of trucks.

    One of their new non-truck stars is the European-derived Fiesta, part of a wave of smaller cars hitting the market, a trend that's a response to changing times.

    "The best way to get a vehicle to get better fuel economy is to make it smaller. And it's the easiest, fastest way to do it, so by starting by making vehicles smaller, manufacturers get the best fuel economy," said Dan Hall, marketing executive at AutoPacific.

    Hot on the heels of the Fiesta is the new Mazda2, which has already had success in Europe and Asia. The Mazda3 used to be the smallest car we could buy in the U.S., but the 2 comes in one size smaller, and for less money.

    There's still lots of room inside, and while the engine's meek 100 horsepower doesn't exactly live up to Mazda's "Zoom-Zoom" slogan, it pays off in being really good with a gallon of gas.

    If you do go down one size class in your next vehicle, you could probably save 10 to 20 percent per year on your fuel bill. If you start doing some math, you can see that over the course of a lease or your car payments, the savings can really add up.

    Just about every car maker is coming out with something smaller in order to help meet federal fuel-economy standards.

    In Buick's case they also reached over to Europe for their new Regal, based on an Opel from Germany. Still large by small-car standards, but small for a Buick, and four-cylinder power exclusively for good fuel economy.

    "Small" used to mean unpleasant to drive or ride in, but not anymore. These new small cars have most every feature that bigger ones have, and buyers might be surprised by what automakers are offering.

    "When they get consumers behind the wheel, first at the dealership, and then driving, I think they'll find that things are not what they used to be," said Hall. "Adding the right features that people are used to seeing on the current vehicle that they have, or features that are, quite frankly, better than features in their current vehicle, they could be swayed to go that way.'

    In the wake of higher gas prices and many people re-evaluating their personal finances, "small" may become the new "big."
    Last edited by folder fanatic; 12-18-10 at 08:02 PM.

  2. #2
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    What I don't get is why this forum seems to miss the whole motorcycle/moped/scooter. I have a moped for fun, and a motorcycle for getting myself long distance which would be otherwise impractical to bike. It takes just as much time as driving, but costs a lot less gas. Insurance is pretty cheap if you buy something small and economical instead of a sport bike. A used motorcycle is pretty cheap, and new is a lot cheaper than a car. Unless you need to move lots of stuff/people I don't see a reason why you'd need a car for commuting over a motorcycle(well unless you're afraid of weather).

  3. #3
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    A smaller more fuel efficient car... what a crazy notion that is.

    How on earth will you get anywhere with less than 200 horsepower under the hood ?

    Seriously...

    I remember being pretty happy with the 56 hp my Beetle cranked out and was even more happy with the 30-35 mpg it got... that was a '71 Super.

    I have a '92 Sentra (yet to be registered / insured) that cranks out a whopping 120 hp but does carry 5 and has decent luggage capacity which is good as I bought it for taking much longer trips with the family.

    The new Fiesta has been sold in Europe for quite some time... why Ford has waited so long to bring it to North America is a mystery.

    It will take a fairly big cultural shift for people to really embrace smaller cars as their primary vehicle as they have been sold the "bigger is better" for a very long time and the small car has been relegated to the entry level / second vehicle niche for many.

    100 hp is plenty for a passenger car and within urban confines you really don't need minivans that have 250hp and go 0-60 in 10 seconds or less.

  4. #4
    Stealing Spokes since 82' Fizzaly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cuog View Post
    What I don't get is why this forum seems to miss the whole motorcycle/moped/scooter. I have a moped for fun, and a motorcycle for getting myself long distance which would be otherwise impractical to bike. It takes just as much time as driving, but costs a lot less gas. Insurance is pretty cheap if you buy something small and economical instead of a sport bike. A used motorcycle is pretty cheap, and new is a lot cheaper than a car. Unless you need to move lots of stuff/people I don't see a reason why you'd need a car for commuting over a motorcycle(well unless you're afraid of weather).
    +1 If i ever end up getting a license ill probably just ride my motorcycle around, though ive had the thing for six years and have only put 8 miles on it

  5. #5
    Stealing Spokes since 82' Fizzaly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
    you really don't need minivans that have 250hp and go 0-60 in 10 seconds or less.
    What?? yes we do

  6. #6
    The Professor akohekohe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cuog View Post
    What I don't get is why this forum seems to miss the whole motorcycle/moped/scooter. I have a moped for fun, and a motorcycle for getting myself long distance which would be otherwise impractical to bike. It takes just as much time as driving, but costs a lot less gas. Insurance is pretty cheap if you buy something small and economical instead of a sport bike. A used motorcycle is pretty cheap, and new is a lot cheaper than a car. Unless you need to move lots of stuff/people I don't see a reason why you'd need a car for commuting over a motorcycle(well unless you're afraid of weather).
    +1
    The more you drive the less intelligent you are. - Tracy Walter as Miller in Repo Man.

  7. #7
    2 Fat 2 Furious contango's Avatar
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    I don't quite get why diesel isn't bigger in the US. I realise it's more expensive than regular gas but based on cars in the UK it's worth paying the extra for the fuel economy.

    Here something like a Toyota RAV4 with a petrol engine gets about 20-25mpg but the same car with a diesel engine gets more like 40-45mpg. (Our gallons are bigger than US gallons so the numbers you guys over the water see might be lower, but the ratio between them should be comparable).

    A friend of mine recently bought a Citroen Berlingo which is like a van converted for passenger use. It's big enough to put unfolded bikes (plural) in the back, accelerates faster than his previous petrol-powered car and still gives him 60-70mpg on the highway. It's not going to beat sports cars off the lights but in terms of a combination between practical and economical it seems hard to beat. So much so, in fact, that I've been considering finally trading in my rather old and tired car for something similar.

    I live in the city where going car free is much more practical than in rural areas, but would rather like a car that's big enough to take two bikes with relative ease. Getting my bike into my current car feels like some kind of fiendish puzzle.

  8. #8
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
    A smaller more fuel efficient car... what a crazy notion that is.

    How on earth will you get anywhere with less than 200 horsepower under the hood ?

    Seriously...

    I remember being pretty happy with the 56 hp my Beetle cranked out and was even more happy with the 30-35 mpg it got... that was a '71 Super.

    I have a '92 Sentra (yet to be registered / insured) that cranks out a whopping 120 hp but does carry 5 and has decent luggage capacity which is good as I bought it for taking much longer trips with the family.

    The new Fiesta has been sold in Europe for quite some time... why Ford has waited so long to bring it to North America is a mystery.

    It will take a fairly big cultural shift for people to really embrace smaller cars as their primary vehicle as they have been sold the "bigger is better" for a very long time and the small car has been relegated to the entry level / second vehicle niche for many.

    100 hp is plenty for a passenger car and within urban confines you really don't need minivans that have 250hp and go 0-60 in 10 seconds or less.
    I don't understand the need for hp either. I do know that cars are much heavier today than they were 20+ years ago, mainly due to increased strengthening for to meet crash standards. Growing up we had several Renaults, a Citroen, a couple of Fiats and a Datsun or two. Most had engines in the 1 to 1.5 litre range and produced hp in the 60 range. Mileage on all of them was usually in excess of 40mpg on the highway. Quirky cars but with the exception of the Fiat's extremely dependable.

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
    _Nicodemus

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    Aluminum: barely a hundred
    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
    _krazygluon

  9. #9
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by contango View Post
    I don't quite get why diesel isn't bigger in the US. I realise it's more expensive than regular gas but based on cars in the UK it's worth paying the extra for the fuel economy.

    Here something like a Toyota RAV4 with a petrol engine gets about 20-25mpg but the same car with a diesel engine gets more like 40-45mpg. (Our gallons are bigger than US gallons so the numbers you guys over the water see might be lower, but the ratio between them should be comparable).

    A friend of mine recently bought a Citroen Berlingo which is like a van converted for passenger use. It's big enough to put unfolded bikes (plural) in the back, accelerates faster than his previous petrol-powered car and still gives him 60-70mpg on the highway. It's not going to beat sports cars off the lights but in terms of a combination between practical and economical it seems hard to beat. So much so, in fact, that I've been considering finally trading in my rather old and tired car for something similar.

    I live in the city where going car free is much more practical than in rural areas, but would rather like a car that's big enough to take two bikes with relative ease. Getting my bike into my current car feels like some kind of fiendish puzzle.
    The US has different pollution standards and from what I gather the Euro diesels don't meet the standards so don't get imported.

    I was in the Bahamas a while back and saw a crew cab diesel Ford Ranger pickup. That model was never offered in the US. I would have bought one in a heartbeat if they had been available. However most US Consumers have been brainwashed into believing bigger is better and safer, and it is to a point when the bulk of the vehicles on the road are over sized flying boxes piloted by incompetent drivers.

    Also the automakers lobby managed to get pickups and other light trucks exempted from the CAFE standards (or at least got lower standards) as well as from many of the crash standards, so they started building SUV's which they made a massive profit on.

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
    _Nicodemus

    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred
    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
    _krazygluon

  10. #10
    Banned. folder fanatic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
    The US has different pollution standards and from what I gather the Euro diesels don't meet the standards so don't get imported.

    I was in the Bahamas a while back and saw a crew cab diesel Ford Ranger pickup. That model was never offered in the US. I would have bought one in a heartbeat if they had been available. However most US Consumers have been brainwashed into believing bigger is better and safer, and it is to a point when the bulk of the vehicles on the road are over sized flying boxes piloted by incompetent drivers.

    Also the automakers lobby managed to get pickups and other light trucks exempted from the CAFE standards (or at least got lower standards) as well as from many of the crash standards, so they started building SUV's which they made a massive profit on.

    Aaron
    To me, it seems like anything really good or better is not imported to the US. My father's UK made Mini was discontinued in the mid-1960s for some stupid reason or another. I think he told me that it did not meet some regulation like crash tests, but I honestly don't remember. Plus the now hipster endorsed traditional Dutch made bikes were not imported either except for one company I used to buy them from back in the late 1960s & 1970s-Flying Dutchman-until rather recently.

    As far as "safer" vehicles nowadays, perhaps they might be. But the morons that operate them cancels that right out. I can see why people are really afraid to take up cycling again-especially around Southern California.
    Last edited by folder fanatic; 12-19-10 at 10:51 AM.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Ekdog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by contango View Post
    I don't quite get why diesel isn't bigger in the US.
    What about natural gas? According to Energy Department predictions, its price will stay low over the next quarter century:

    "The department nearly doubled its estimate in the new projection from the one it issued a year ago. As a result, it is predicting that natural gas will remain under $5 per million cubic feet through 2022. Before the recession, it sold for over $12; the price lately has been between $4 and $4.50. Natural gas will increase its share of the electricity market, one factor that will drive down carbon emissions, the government predicted".

    http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/

  12. #12
    Senior Member VeloBusDriver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by contango View Post
    I don't quite get why diesel isn't bigger in the US. I realise it's more expensive than regular gas but based on cars in the UK it's worth paying the extra for the fuel economy.
    You obviously weren't driving in the 80s when GM sold smoky diesels with undersized engine blocks that were horribly unreliable. Calling them lemons would be insulting all citrus fruits.

    All these years later I still hold an enormous amount of distrust toward GM based on my experience with those cars. I know diesels can be excellent cars - I almost bought a VW Jetta. However, many who experienced these abominations, either as an unlucky owner or a choking pedestrian on the side of the road, will take longer to convince diesel cars can make it in this country.
    I leave *at least* 3 feet when I pass a cyclist while driving my bus, can you all extend the same courtesy to buses that you pass while cycling? Trust me when I say that this is a good idea...

    "Assimilation turns us all into friends" - Borg Queen

  13. #13
    Recumbent Trike countersTrike's Avatar
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    Muscle-car rage completely lost all sanity to me. Now twisting the rubber band tighter goes on. Making sleek jelly beans on wheels go faster and turn tighter is just ridiculous to me. I do like microcar 3 or 4 wheel very small vehicles, but the majority of people scream about lack of safety; or lack of "concert-hall" climate-controlled cocoons. But with all the rain, earthquakes, and flooding today in CA.; maybe I am the stupid one.

  14. #14
    Senior Member VeloBusDriver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ekdog View Post
    What about natural gas?
    CNG and LNG will increase as oil prices continue upwards while Natural gas prices in the US, for at least the next decade or so, stay relatively tame. That said, Diesel will be around since a synthetic diesel can be made from Natural Gas. We probably won't do it here but in places like Qatar where they have GOBS of Natural gas, they are building gas to liquids plants. Diesel is a LOT easier to ship than liquefied natural gas.

    It'll be an interesting battle to watch...
    I leave *at least* 3 feet when I pass a cyclist while driving my bus, can you all extend the same courtesy to buses that you pass while cycling? Trust me when I say that this is a good idea...

    "Assimilation turns us all into friends" - Borg Queen

  15. #15
    Senior Member Ekdog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VeloBusDriver View Post
    CNG and LNG will increase as oil prices continue upwards while Natural gas prices in the US, for at least the next decade or so, stay relatively tame. That said, Diesel will be around since a synthetic diesel can be made from Natural Gas. We probably won't do it here but in places like Qatar where they have GOBS of Natural gas, they are building gas to liquids plants. Diesel is a LOT easier to ship than liquefied natural gas.

    It'll be an interesting battle to watch...
    The ad below was placed in the Washington Post on 25 Feb 2009 by Bill Wattenburg, a physicist and right-wing talk show host.


  16. #16
    Senior Member coldfeet's Avatar
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    The Fiesta and Mazda 2 are the same car under the skin, the Buick Regal, considered small in N.A. is sold as a Large, Luxury, Opel in Germany.

    As far as Horsepower goes, for a while I had a Citroen car with 2 cylinders, that put out all of 37 HP when new.

    I would ( will ) probably buy one of the various planned 3 wheeled electric 2 person tadpole trike electric vehicles, when the battery ( Ultracap ) technology becomes reality.

  17. #17
    2 Fat 2 Furious contango's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VeloBusDriver View Post
    You obviously weren't driving in the 80s when GM sold smoky diesels with undersized engine blocks that were horribly unreliable. Calling them lemons would be insulting all citrus fruits.

    All these years later I still hold an enormous amount of distrust toward GM based on my experience with those cars. I know diesels can be excellent cars - I almost bought a VW Jetta. However, many who experienced these abominations, either as an unlucky owner or a choking pedestrian on the side of the road, will take longer to convince diesel cars can make it in this country.
    I'm not talking about the 80s. In the UK in the early 90s a lot of small cars with diesel engines rattled like something the size of a Ford Transit van or bigger. But these days a diesel engine sounds much the same as a petrol engine and can offer impressive performance as well. The last time I drove a diesel (in about 2007) it took me about 400 yards of driving it before I forgot it was a diesel.

    It wasn't that long ago that people bought a Toyota if they really, honestly, truly, couldn't afford to buy anything else. Times change, and refusing to buy something good now because of a bad experience of something loosely similar 25 years ago doesn't make a lot of sense.

  18. #18
    2 Fat 2 Furious contango's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
    The US has different pollution standards and from what I gather the Euro diesels don't meet the standards so don't get imported.
    I find it hard to believe that a 60mpg diesel car from Europe can possibly produce more pollution than a 12mpg petrol muscle car from Detroit.

  19. #19
    The Professor akohekohe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by contango View Post
    I find it hard to believe that a 60mpg diesel car from Europe can possibly produce more pollution than a 12mpg petrol muscle car from Detroit.
    In is the NOx emissions that do in the diesel. Oddly, bio diesel produces higher NOx emissions than petrol diesel. However, this is not the problem it used to be with the introduction of low sulfur fuel in the USA the cat. converters can do a better job eliminating the NOx. Engine type makes a big difference, a two stroke moped puts out way more toxic fumes than even a Hummer, so MPG is only one factor in the total environmental equation.
    The more you drive the less intelligent you are. - Tracy Walter as Miller in Repo Man.

  20. #20
    Senior Member VeloBusDriver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by contango View Post
    I'm not talking about the 80s.
    I know you're not. My point is that Detroit introduced several absolutely horrible Diesel vehicles in the 80s. Given the horrible performance and dirty exhaust from these monstrosities, people here have a pretty dim view of diesels. We now have ultra low sulfur diesel so manufacturers can do really advanced diesel designs that are emissions compliant in all 50 states. They have a perception problem right now that's going to take a while to correct.
    I leave *at least* 3 feet when I pass a cyclist while driving my bus, can you all extend the same courtesy to buses that you pass while cycling? Trust me when I say that this is a good idea...

    "Assimilation turns us all into friends" - Borg Queen

  21. #21
    2 Fat 2 Furious contango's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VeloBusDriver View Post
    I know you're not. My point is that Detroit introduced several absolutely horrible Diesel vehicles in the 80s. Given the horrible performance and dirty exhaust from these monstrosities, people here have a pretty dim view of diesels. We now have ultra low sulfur diesel so manufacturers can do really advanced diesel designs that are emissions compliant in all 50 states. They have a perception problem right now that's going to take a while to correct.
    I can appreciate the perception problem. Despite the fuel economy offerings I was a little wary of a diesel car having seen (and heard) so many small cars that rattled like huge vans.

    When gas went to $4/gallon back in June 2008 and people were stuck with their huge SUVs they couldn't afford to put fuel in them and couldn't sell because nobody else wanted to pay top dollar for a 12mpg car, I'm surprised that the number of SUVs on the road still seems to be rising even though gas has eased off from the highs. Even with bad experiences in the past I'd have thought more people would be interested in at least giving diesel another chance.

    From my (limited) experience of Americans and their attitudes to motoring it seems people are aware that diesel is more expensive than petrol but don't factor in the difference in fuel mileage. If you pay 20% more per gallon but get 75% more miles per gallon then, all else being equal, it's a good investment.

  22. #22
    Senior Member travelmama's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cuog View Post
    What I don't get is why this forum seems to miss the whole motorcycle/moped/scooter. I have a moped for fun, and a motorcycle for getting myself long distance which would be otherwise impractical to bike. It takes just as much time as driving, but costs a lot less gas. Insurance is pretty cheap if you buy something small and economical instead of a sport bike. A used motorcycle is pretty cheap, and new is a lot cheaper than a car. Unless you need to move lots of stuff/people I don't see a reason why you'd need a car for commuting over a motorcycle(well unless you're afraid of weather).
    Thank you.
    Two Wheels One Love

  23. #23
    Formerly Known as Newbie Juha's Avatar
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    The idea of a small, "greener" car with low average consumption is appealing. Every now and then we rent a cabin for a weekend, those are usually out of reach of any public transportation. For those trips I often rent a subcompact car (I've driven a Fiat 500, BMW Mini, Yaris and Fiesta lately). Great cars, especially the Mini, and they relatively easily reach sub 5 litres per 100 km (over 50mpg) in real world use. Problem is, those trips are maybe half of my car mileage. The other half involves hauling more stuff, heavier stuff, more people or all of these. So, if I ever owned a car, it would probably be a smallish station wagon kind of deal. I'm a member in a car share system, they use Skoda Fabia Combis. Sensible roomy car, definitely nothing exciting about it, but it seems to tolerate the hugely varying drivers in the car share system quite well. Reasonable fuel economy too (but again, nothing spectacular).

    The way diesel cars are taxed here, one would have to drive around 20 000 kms per year to make it financially sensible. I'm nowhere close to that mileage. That's also the main reason I've never actually owned a car.

    Someone mentioned motorcycles. Around where I live, insurance costs for those are huge, in the range of 1000-1500e per year easily. Combine that with our climate, and they're not really an option for everyday transportation.

    --J
    To err is human. To moo is bovine.

    Who is this General Failure anyway, and why is he reading my drive?


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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by contango View Post
    I don't quite get why diesel isn't bigger in the US. I realise it's more expensive than regular gas but based on cars in the UK it's worth paying the extra for the fuel economy.Here something like a Toyota RAV4 with a petrol engine gets about 20-25mpg but the same car with a diesel engine gets more like 40-45mpg. (Our gallons are bigger than US gallons so the numbers you guys over the water see might be lower, but the ratio between them should be comparable).

    .
    The answer may be simpler than you might expect. Particulates produced by diesel are greater than those produced by gas vehicles. At least in all states that ascribe to California CARB standards Diesel has to be as clean as a relatively dirty car and many new cars have now reached a standard called PZERO. To clean diesels enough to come close to these standards they have to add particulate traps and here comes catch 22. If the particulate trap is required to meet smog standards it must have a warrantee of 100,000 miles before servicing. To meet these standards diesels cost a lot more than a small compact car and the fuel itself cost more than gas. To make up the difference takes longer than the average American keeps a car. Diesel trucks and SUVs are pretty popular however because they have a smog exemption at 2/4 ton or better.
    The short answer is Government standards and air quality combine to make life hard on diesel in the US.
    Or so I have read but I have owned a diesel truck.

  25. #25
    2 Fat 2 Furious contango's Avatar
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    So strict emissions laws allow a 12mpg muscle car but not a 60mpg diesel car? Odd... even taking into account the difference in the particles coming out of a diesel I find that odd.

    Comparing a regular sized car to an equivalent car with a diesel engine often results in fuel savings that would take tens of thousands of miles to recoup the original investment. But where larger vehicles are concerned (and in this context "larger" means something the size of a Toyota RAV-4 or Honda CRV) the diesels can do literally double the distance per gallon, so it doesn't take long to recover the premiums paid.

    A friend of mine in the US traded a monstrous great Dodge RAM pickup with a diesel engine for something he could probably have parked on the back of his Dodge, hoping to save some money on his fuel bills. He found the smaller pickup offered him far less flexibility and didn't save him anything at all in fuel.

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