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Diesel article in todays Toronto newspaper

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Diesel article in todays Toronto newspaper

Unread postby PrivatePilot on Sat Mar 29, 2008 12:17 pm

In todays Toronto Star:

http://www.wheels.ca/article/216195

New diesels deserve a second look

Gerry Malloy

Mar 29, 2008

Reduced emissions and improved performance come at a cost.

In the short term, one of the most expedient things we could do to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from new cars and trucks is what the Europeans have already done: switch to diesel engines.

Approximately half of all new light-duty vehicles purchased in the EU are diesel powered. And that figure applies across the whole range of vehicle segments.That success is driven primarily by economic considerations: diesel fuel is typically much cheaper than gasoline, thanks to favourable tax structures, and diesel engines inherently consume 25 per cent to 30 per cent less fuel than corresponding gasoline engines.

Combine the two and consumers may save close to 50 per cent in fuel costs. That is a serious incentive in lands where gasoline typically costs twice what it does here.

Even that financial motivation might not be enough if the engines did not perform well. But they do – better than gasoline engines in many respects.

Today's high-tech diesels are almost as quiet as gasoline engines, and much more responsive in the relatively low engine-speed ranges where most drivers operate, which makes them almost ideally suited for the North American driving environment.

Jeep and Mercedes-Benz are currently offering diesels here and several other automakers, including Acura, Audi, BMW and Volkswagen, are expected to introduce or reintroduce them soon.

They have been absent recently because, as clean as they already are in Europe, new emissions regulations currently in effect in North America are dramatically tougher to meet.

And they are getting tougher still. By 2010, diesels across the continent will have to be as clean as gasoline engines in every respect.

To meet those regulations, most manufacturers will adopt sophisticated exhaust after-treatment systems that include catalytic converters, a particulate trap and a urea injection system in the exhaust.

The latter is the extra step needed to get from where we are now to where we need to be. A urea solution called AdBlue is ahead of the final catalyst, whose purpose is neutralizing smog-forming oxides of nitrogen (NOx).

I recently drove an Audi A5, equipped with the same 3.0-litre V6 diesel that will be used here in the Q7 and the urea injection system, from Niagara to Toronto, and can confirm that it performs admirably. In fact, with its instant response to just a squeeze of the accelerator at highway cruising speed, I prefer it to the gasoline-engined A5, which is itself a highly desirable car.

Given all its advantages, the acceptance of today's diesels by Canadian consumers would seem to be a sure thing – but for the cost.

Diesels inherently cost more because they must be mechanically more robust – they operate at much higher compression and ignition pressures – and because they require highly sophisticated fuel-delivery systems that operate at pressures as high as 2000 bars (29,000 p.s.i.).

Audi Canada's president, Diego Ramos, is cautious about committing to diesel vehicles for Canada. He wants to see how the Q7 diesel does in the market before confirming the availability of other models here.

If our politicians are really serious about supporting alternative technologies to reduce greenhouse gases, they could help things along by reconsidering the tax structure on diesel fuels, thus helping to offset some of that cost premium.


To this I responded via email:

Good morning, Gerry.

I read your article in todays Toronto Star with great interest. As the owner of a large diesel pickup truck which I use to tow a large travel trailer, I'm very familiar with diesel power.

Although your article is true in many regards with what you had to say regarding efficiency it's clear that you've missed the recent costs of diesel fuel. Your article states that diesel fuel is "typically much cheaper then gasoline", but sadly this is no longer the case - diesel now commands approximately 10 to 12 cents *more* per liter then regular grade gasoline. In the USA the gap between regular octane gasoline and diesel fuel now exceeds $1.00 per gallon, or about 25 to 30 cents per litre more when compared to average regular gasoline prices.

These price changes started to occur late last fall - up until then diesel was generally less expensive then gasoline, which has been the trend for as long as I can remember. Around Christmas, the costs reached parity, and since then diesel has routinely cost more then gasoline with the price differential reaching it's current excess in the last 4 to 6 weeks.

Yes, it's very true that diesel engines are much more effecient when compared to an equivalent gasoline engine. My truck when hitched to our trailer consumes about 18L/100 Kilometers travelled, or about 13MPG. A gasoline equivalent would be struggling to get 8 to 9 MPG. For my needs the diesel still makes sense when compared to a gasoline engine as our distances travelled with the trailer in tow quickly works to our advantage when it comes to fuel consumption and overall performance, but for someone mainly driving short distances, the math doesn't make as much sense.

However, the outlook on diesel engines has changed drastically over the last year as price changes have started to make diesel powered vehicles seem less appealing. There is a significant upfront cost difference (ranging into the $7000 to $8000 range for a pickup), and there is also much more maintenance involved with a diesel engine versus a gasoline engine - more frequent oil changes (at higher cost), fuel filters, injector service (I'm currently replacing my injectors at a cost of approximately $600), and some diesels now require expensive fuel additives to deal with the new ultra low sulphur diesel (USLD).

If I had my injector service done at the consumer level the cost would be approximately $1500 - I'm saving by doing the work myself, something that many others cannot do. Regarding additives, my truck requires a lubricity additive that costs approximately $5.00 per fill-up in order to deal with the ULSD that was not anticipated at the time of manufacture but was mandated in an effort to bring diesel engines more into line with emissions requirements, something that has also had a signifigant negative effect on resultant fuel mileage.

During the winter months in colder climates (such as ours here in Ontario) diesel fuel is reformulated to "winter" standards, a situation that results in lower cetane levels and a very noticable decrease in resultant miles per gallon.

Unfortunately all of these facts are contributing towards the perfect-storm of consumers shying away from diesel technology just at a point where it could otherwise shine. Costs are higher, and the increase in fuel milage is shrinking.

When a consumer is presented with a several thousand dollar increase in upfront purchase prices, increased maintenance costs for the life of the vehicle, and a potential 10 or 20 cent per litre premium for diesel fuel for the foreseeable future, the math simply no longer adds up for many people unless the vehicle is used for hauling (as is our case), or very long distance driving where the still very real milage increases can eventually result in an acceptable return on investment...eventually.

In the new diesel reality of today, many people are discounting diesel engines immediately because of these facts. If diesel fuel was once again to show a price advantage versus gasoline then these facts could change dramatically, but based upon my current observations in both Canada and the USA, no relief is in sight.

Perhaps some of my comments could be brought to the attention of your readers in a future articles.
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Re: Diesel article in todays Toronto newspaper

Unread postby Benny on Sat Mar 29, 2008 1:52 pm

That was a well written response to the article. Had I known last year that the price of diesel was going to go up as much as it did, I probably would have thought twice about the duramax. In any event, I have it now and I do love the truck. Its great for towing the 5'er but not very practical for a daily driver compared to my Camry.
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Re: Diesel article in todays Toronto newspaper

Unread postby Retired Phone Man on Sat Mar 29, 2008 2:18 pm

When I was reading the article, I was wondering if the author ever got out from behind his desk. I liked PrivatePilot's answer but I doubt if it make a difference at the newspaper.
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Re: Diesel article in todays Toronto newspaper

Unread postby skipnchar on Sat Mar 29, 2008 2:57 pm

Some people don't let "facts" influence the way they think. Good response. We of course KNOW there is no logic behind diesel pricing or for THAT matter, gasoline pricing. Increased price of oil does NOT logically equate to astronomical profits for those who are reselling it.
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Re: Diesel article in todays Toronto newspaper

Unread postby jp rver on Sat Mar 29, 2008 11:04 pm

Nice response to the article Private Pilot. Up until about 12 months ago, I was sure I wanted my next truck to be a diesel. However, now with the way diesel fuel is costing so much more than gasoline, combined with the fact that towing my TT only accounts for about 10 to 15 percent of my yearly mileage on my TV, gasoline is looking like a more logical choice for me. Although I love the way a diesel engine performs, I just can't justify the added cost of the engine and the increased cost of the fuel, especially when even a 4.7L equipped Dakota can tow my trailer, and get almost 20 mpg empty.

Let us know if any of your insightful comments make it into the paper.
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Re: Diesel article in todays Toronto newspaper

Unread postby CanadianRVers on Sun Apr 27, 2008 2:02 pm

Good one Private Pilot! I bought my 04 duramax in May 2007. Deisel was a full $0.30 per liter cheaper. Increased MPG & lower priced fuel were the deciding factors. HAD I KNOWN! BUt like others have said I have it now & I do love the truck. BTW just had injectors done (under warentee) TG! When I asked the dealer what that woud have cost for customer Pay the responce was $4000.00. That to me would have been time to trade it off for a F250 V-10. The V-10 claims 9-11 MPG I get 9-10 towing with mine but TV & 5ver weight in at around 17000 pounds.
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Re: Diesel article in todays Toronto newspaper

Unread postby PrivatePilot on Sun Apr 27, 2008 10:26 pm

CanadianRVers wrote: When I asked the dealer what that woud have cost for customer Pay the responce was $4000.00.


I would have thought that $4000 is an obscene amount of money, but I just looked at Kennedy Diesel's website (the place where I ordered my set of 8 for my 6.5TD at a cost of $320) and I see that a set of 8 Bosch injectors for the Duramax is indeed $3000.

$1000 for labor isn't out of line at the dealer level, either. I was lucky to have an "on the side" guy who did mine for a mere $200.

Ouch.

Also, 10MPG? What speed do you tow at out of curiosity?
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Re: Diesel article in todays Toronto newspaper

Unread postby CanadianRVers on Mon Apr 28, 2008 9:31 am

If it is no too windy ( yea right right we live in Saskatchewan) Gennerally we tow at 100 Km Sometimes 105. If you know of any tweaks or adjustments then I am all ears or eyes in this forum. :D
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Re: Diesel article in todays Toronto newspaper

Unread postby farrman on Sat Feb 28, 2009 2:55 pm

Diesel in Ontario is now cheaoer that gas ,just like the first 80 years of the last century.
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Re: Diesel article in todays Toronto newspaper

Unread postby PrivatePilot on Sat Feb 28, 2009 8:44 pm

farrman wrote:Diesel in Ontario is now cheaoer that gas ,just like the first 80 years of the last century.


I wish I saw it at the pumps locally. According to the gas price websites diesel should now be about 4-6c / litre less then gasoline, but based on the majority of local stations it's still at par, or only now slightly below.

The prices on diesel are VERY slow to move downwards now...but fast to move up.
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Re: Diesel article in todays Toronto newspaper

Unread postby farrman on Sat Feb 28, 2009 8:56 pm

Cheapest diesel in SW ontario is a husky here in Windsor 74.9.Gas is up around 84 but dropping ,it will get down to upper 70's then jump back to mid 80's go figure
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Re: Diesel article in todays Toronto newspaper

Unread postby PrivatePilot on Sat Feb 28, 2009 9:07 pm

Yeah, unfortunately in my area retailers like to gouge. The Shell nearest my house is still trying to sell diesel for 0.86 when it's still about .80 in most other spots.
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Re: Diesel article in todays Toronto newspaper

Unread postby pwall on Sat Feb 28, 2009 10:34 pm

Diesel here in Ottawa is at 81, while gas is at 84.
Certainly a lot better that the 1.49 it was last June when I first got the 3500.
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Re: Diesel article in todays Toronto newspaper

Unread postby farrman on Sun Mar 01, 2009 3:22 pm

Privatepilot-look at Gasbuddies.
I found a Husky in missiauga on kenney dr-76.4
and a sunoco on weston had it for 77.9
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Re: Diesel article in todays Toronto newspaper

Unread postby Limey on Mon Mar 02, 2009 12:31 am

I just paid $1.99 (US) here in Colorado today at my local station.

First time it has been under $2 in ages! Yipee! :)
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Re: Diesel article in todays Toronto newspaper

Unread postby zuley on Mon Mar 23, 2009 10:31 am

We recently purchased a Grand Cherokee with the 3.0 liter Benz diesel engine. Compared to the Jeep Liberty we traded in the Cherokee is costing us 50% less in fuel. I've yet to tow with the new vehicle but I'm willing to bet the mother load the diesel is going to be a dream to tow with.
Having said all of this I am quite aware of the added expenses associated with the diesel.
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Re: Diesel article in todays Toronto newspaper

Unread postby Spenfam on Tue Mar 24, 2009 5:47 pm

Great response! We were getting about 10-12 M.P.G. with our Cummins while towing the 33 ft. 5th wheel, which is one of the reasons we went to the single axle Freightliner. We figure we got around 12 m.p.g. or a little better hauling the 48 ft. on our first trip with it, and much better stability. Can't wait to hit the road ! Hope the fuel prices drop for the summer season.......(Eternal Optimist?)
Anyway, just wanted to say you did a fine job with your reply.

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