Archive for diesel

Diesel+LPG

Posted in Alt-Fuel, Green Tech with tags , , , , , , on 17/01/2012 by Alexander

I love alternative fuels. I’m on my third LPG car, which is the perhaps the most widespread and cheapest alternative fuel in Europe, and I thank my stars every day for having converted my Volvo to run on it. Currently, fuel prices are so staggeringly high that I’d have to consider staying at home a lot more than I do. When I first started driving my first LPG-burning Citroen, diesel was around €0,88, while LPG was around €0.5. Money-wise, it was cheaper to run a diesel, since it got mileage that was good enough to offset the price difference between the two types of fuel. However, the considerable difference in price when buying the cars to start with made LPG the far more sensible choice, since the cost of buying a petrol car and pay for the conversion was far, far less than buying an equivalent diesel. For example, my S60 (2.3-litre five cylinder turbo, with 130,000km/80,000 miles on the odometer) cost €11,000 plus nearly €2,000 to get it converted, while an equivalent D5 version (2.4-litre five cylinder turbo, same mileage), would set me back €15,500+. And I’d have to drive a lot to compensate for those extra €2,500 price difference. In fact, I’d have to have driven round the clock as soon as I got it because not long after, diesel prices rose so steeply that since then diesel is no longer the less expensive way to get around. Especially in 2012.

Let’s crunch some quick numbers to you can get the idea. Diesel now costs around €1.49 a litre. LPG costs €0.75 (I’m rounding the numbers in favour of diesel, to drive the point home). Now, I get around 8.8l/100km (32.1mpg) on an average journey with a car full of people, luggage and air-conditioning. An equivalent diesel will do around 5l/100km (56.5mpg). LPG saves €0.90 per 100km, and though that might not sound like much, over the lifetime of a car that’s a lot of lolly.

Anyway, this might not hold true tomorrow since LPG prices are set to go up in the near future, but either way, I stand by my logic. However, if you already own a diesel, you might be interested in something I found out yesterday (though it’s been around for yonks): dual-fuel LPG/diesel cars. In a nutshell, cars that inject 66% diesel and 34% LPG into the cylinder. From what I’ve read, the result is smoother running, more power and torque, and significant fuel economy (20-30%). The bottom line is a 5l/100km car now drinks some 2.5l of diesel plus a litre or so of LPG. That’s half the amount of normal fuel plus some half price fuel. Personally, I think it sounds great and I’d jump at the chance, if I had a diesel, except for one small snag. The cost of fitting an LPG kit to a diesel can be around €2000, and offsetting that value can take a jolly long time. Even if you save €1.50 per 100km, you’d have to do around 130,000km (80,000 mile)s to compensate the investment, and considering you’ll probably be converting a used car that’s clocked 150,000km (as most converted cars – no-one wants to tinker with a relatively new car), it might not even last that long. Compare that to LPG cars, where even an expensive conversion like mine paid off after 30,000km.

Either way, it’s an interesting alternative, and might be worth it given the right set of circumstances.

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BMW benchmark

Posted in Car conception, Green Tech, Upcoming cars with tags , , , on 04/07/2011 by Alexander

I’m mostly writing this because I’m sick of having to look at Roger Moore every time I open this page: The BMW 5-series is considered by most moto-journoes the standard by which all other 4-door saloons must be measured. I don’t know if it’s in terms of sales or build quality, but I suspect it’s all about that sporty handling-shite that has no place in the real world.

But hark! The Bavarians have unveiled a new-engined 520d, that delivers a whopping 4.5l/100km consumption figure (around 63 mpg in the UK)! Phwoar! BMW are no strangers to making powerful, well-performing cars, but this is a production model, and not some unobtainable concept car. This is iron-clad proof that all those emission targets set by governments aren’t fanciful thinking, and that other manufacturers really have to get their s**t together and play catch-up. Fast.

On a related note, I’m not a conspiracy maniac, but I find it hard to believe that Big Oil idly sits around on its arse and watches as green tech develops without a lot of lobbying and behind-the-scenes bastard tactics. But if a company with the huge weight of BMW basically shows that it won’t dance to OPEC’s tune unless they feel like it, maybe more auto-makers will find their spines and stop dragging their feet implementing cleaner, more efficient technology.

Everyone’s a diesel

Posted in Alt-Fuel, Driving theory with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 18/08/2009 by Alexander

I wasn’t expecting to blog while on holiday, but here I am. I’m staying in the Algarve, in the south of Portugal, and as always, I’m keeping my automotive eyes and ears peeled for relevant data.

One thing that struck me is how things have changed regarding diesel. Back in the day, my dad was a rare creature, because he preferred diesel over petrol. To me the logic was unshakable: it’s cheaper and more efficient. £20 of diesel got you a long way. £20 of petrol didn’t, and still doesn’t.

So while I was sipping coffee near the entrance to the resort I’m staying at, I couldn’t help noticing the constant rumble of diesel engines as they went past. I didn’t count how many cars went by, but they were in the many dozens. And I only counted two petrol-fuelled. And in the evening, while having dinner, every car that passes by is graced with a diesel, be it a big estate, a jeep, a people-carrier, a hatchback, you name it.

The reason for the shift isn’t hard to fathom. Though my dad couldn’t give a rat’s arse about performance (and consequentially, I also thinks it’s far, far less important than nearly all the car’s characteristics), most drivers did, so that’s why they went for petrol. As diesel engine’s got better and better (vastly improved performance and even consumption), and fuel got more and more expensive, it was just a matter of time until Mr. and Mrs. Bloggs realised that they didn’t have to spend half the family holiday budget at the pumps. Also, many ranges didn’t even have diesel versions on offer (pre-1993 Volvo 400 series, for example), but today the diesels outnumber the petrol-guzzlers in some cases (Citroën C6).

So bear in mind, today’s green-tinged alt-fuel maniacs might be the harbingers of things to come.

Alt Fuel #8 Petrol/Diesel

Posted in Alt-Fuel, Green Tech with tags , , , on 05/08/2009 by Alexander

“Petrol and diesel aren’t alternative fuels, you stupid prat!” I might hear you say. Well, they’re not alt-fuels now, but they might very well be if the solutions I mentioned earlier take a hold of the market. Imagine in the future, one day you’re filling up your car with hemp-based bioethanol, and a bloke in an old banger pulls up between the wireless EV recharging spot and the pump dispensing urine-derived hydrogen. He asks the attendant if they sell something called “petrol”, because his car wasn’t retrofitted to run on biobutanol.

A future like this wouldn’t be that bad, but let’s face the honest truth: petrol and diesel won’t go away that easily. Big Oil and plain simple everyday habits will make the shift away hard. Asking the everyday man to trade in a habit he’s cultivated all his life simply might not work. People are scared of change, and they’re also very lazy going about it.

But the panorama isn’t completely gloomy. The way engines are evolving is favourable for a less fossil-fuel consuming future. We’ve already had good cars like the VW Lupo 3l, we have the good example of the Volvo DRIVe range, and even a performance brand like BMW is developing low-cc super-economical engines.

In conclusion, we’ve got a long transition away from petrol and diesel ahead of us, but habits will change as engines get smaller and less greedy. An then hopefully, when oil runs out no-one will notice, because the shift to alt-fuels has already happened.

Intro
Hybrids and Plug-In Hybrids
Plug-In Electric Vehicles
Biodiesel, bioethanol and such
Carbon-neutral Algae-based fuels
Hydrogen fuel cells
LPG
Hybrid Retrofitting
Petrol/Diesel

Alt-fuel – Intro

Posted in Alt-Fuel, Green Tech with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 17/07/2009 by Alexander

One of my favourite ever posts in my now-gone old blog was a post on the different types of fuel that were cropping up at the time. The idea was to enumerate all the pros and cons of each fuel to try to imagine what will be powering our cars in a decade or so. We are at a crossroads, with some brands pushing for hybrids, others plug-in hybrids, others hydrogen, others bioethanol, etc., etc., etc.. This was all especially pertinent back when oil prices were whopping and filling your tank meant selling one of your children. Now those prices have gone down and everyone’s reeling at the money the financial system sucked into nothingness, and it would seem people have stopped worrying about what it costs to fill their tank and what alternatives are out there to make this less painful on your wallet. Or at least it seems that way for the time being, but will change now prices are rising yet again. However, the ball was set rolling, and slowly, the normally aloof masses are becoming aware of cheaper and more enviromentally-friendly ways to run their automobiles. So let me repeat a now-lost post and give you my idea on what the alternatives are. We’ll get cracking in the next post.

Intro
Hybrids and Plug-In Hybrids
Plug-In Electric Vehicles
Biodiesel, bioethanol and such
Carbon-neutral Algae-based fuels
Hydrogen fuel cells
LPG
Hybrid Retrofitting
Petrol/Diesel