Most hybrid vehicles today can operate at gas mileages of up to 50 miles per gallon on the highway and 30-40 miles per gallon in the city. To me that isn’t all that great considering most strictly gasoline powered cars have done that already. With all the hype these days about fuel economy why are we producing hybrid cars and trucks with the same fuel economy as gasoline fueled cars and trucks? The car manufacturers were forced to make modifications to their manufacturing to give better fuel economy yet today they still average the same as a vehicle manufactured in the 1980s and 1990s. In fact, according to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report, instead of achieving higher gas mileage, the numbers have been declining slowly for years! According to the report, the gas mileage of “light duty” vehicles (cars, SUVs, and pickup trucks) is actually going down! The EPA report shows that average gas mileage for these vehicles peaked at 22.1 miles per gallon in 1987. In 2005 it’s down to 21.0 miles per gallon. This is in spite of the recent introduction of high gas mileage vehicles like hybrids.

I am about to let you in on a little secret. There are vehicles already on the market that’s rated for 46 MPG on the highway, and they’re not hybrids, they’re the secret nobody talks about: Diesels!

During the 1970s energy crisis the Volkswagen Rabbit Diesel, even though it was a little noisy and a little smoky, was incredibly reliable and a light-footed driver could easily exceed 50 MPG and sometimes even 60 MPG in them! 40 years later and gasoline mileage has slowly been slipping for several years, according to EPA, but diesels have been getting better and better. No more rattling engine. No more clouds of black smoke. No more weak performance. Diesel fuel has gotten cleaner, diesel reliability has gotten even better, diesel mileage often exceeds hybrids, and performance is outstanding. If you haven’t noticed already diesel prices are lower than gasoline prices too. Another known fact is that diesel engines last a lot longer than gasoline engines.

Why aren’t more people driving diesel cars that get 30-40% better mileage than gas cars? Why are the sales of new diesel cars banned in some U.S. states?

Two words: Kyoto Treaty. The Kyoto Treaty mandates the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and it has been signed by over 140 countries. The only major country not to sign is the United States. By refusing to sign the Kyoto Protocols, the United States is not bound by the treaty. That means that the EPA pollution standards for cars don’t include greenhouse emissions. Diesels have better emissions than gas engines in some areas the EPA measures and worse emissions in other areas. Overall, by U.S. measurement standards, the higher Nitrogen Oxide and particulate emissions of diesels mean that they’re classified as higher pollution cars than gasoline-powered cars. For that reason, some states have banned the sale of new diesels.

But take the same diesel vehicles to Europe where the Kyoto Protocols apply and they’re considered much more environmentally friendly than gasoline-powered cars and trucks! Diesels have much lower greenhouse gas emissions than gas engines. That probably explains why 40-50% of the passenger vehicles in Europe are diesel powered while less than 1% of U.S. passenger vehicles are diesels and very few new diesel models are available in the U.S. — mostly Volkswagens and Mercedes for cars, with a few manufacturers offering trucks.

But the technology that meet the terms of the Kyoto Treaty have already been developed and are now available in the U.S. Diesel engine design continues to advance and new designs have already drastically lowered NOx and particulate emissions. Diesel fuel standards have already evolved and the diesel fuels are now being made with lower sulfur to burn cleaner. Perhaps the most enduring quality of driving a diesel powered vehicle is that they all can run on both diesel and the renewable biodiesel. Biodiesel fuel is made from vegetable oil (Rudolf Diesel’s original engine ran on peanut oil) and is already available in most states and is being used in current diesel vehicles with dramatically lower emissions than existing petroleum diesel fuel. Biodiesel is a renewable fuel that can be made from many different vegetable crops.

Which would you rather have; a 2010 Chevy Equinox which they claim gets better fuel efficiency than the Honda CR-V & the Toyota Rav-4 at 32 MPG on the highway, or a 2010 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid or 2010 GMC Yukon Hybrid having fuel economy ratings of 20 mpg city and highway (both hybrids have worse fuel efficiency than 1987 vehicles that had fuel economy ratings of 22.1 miles per gallon) for four-wheel-drive models or a diesel car or truck that will give almost double the mileage at 50 and even 60 mpg? Is getting a hybrid worth it? Tahoe Hybrid pricing starts at $50,490 for two-wheel drive and $53,295 for 4WD.

Benefits of Diesel Fuel

Engines utilizing diesel fuel have higher torque and higher towing capacity, which make it a desirable choice for towing trailers, boats and other towing applications. Reductions in the fuel’s sulfur content have made it more environmentally friendly.

Fuel Efficiency - Diesel fuel contains more energy per gallon than gasoline, which results in an average of 30 percent better fuel efficiency.

Cooler Fuel - Diesel fuel prolongs engine life by burning at a cooler temperature and reducing wear.

Better Lubricity - Diesel is a high-lubricity fuel, which reduces scarring on internal metal parts.

Reduced Greenhouse Gases - Vehicles that run on diesel fuel produce 10 to 20 percent fewer greenhouses gases than their gasoline counterparts.

Safety - Diesel has a lower flash point, making it safer to store and transport.

Volkswagen’s 1-Liter (single cylinder diesel engine) 235 MPG Extreme Fuel Efficiency Car - With its 235 mpg fuel economy, it can travel 400 miles on its 1.7 gallon fuel tank…all the while achieving a 75 mph top speed.

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