• Mar 8, 2006

Suddenly driving a hybrid just isn’t eco-friendly enough for some people. For those trendy tree huggers in L.A. a company named Bio-Beetle Eco Rental Cars is offering cars powered entirely from biodiesel for rent.

The company has set up shop near LAX with a fleet of four VWs that includes the New Beetle, Jetta and Passat. Weekly rates start at $199 and a gallon of biodiesel is going for $3.45/gallon. While that tops the per gallon price of petrol at the moment, these cars can travel between 400 and 800 miles on a tank. Only one problem: there’s one biodiesel station in all of L.A. And even though the vehicles are technically capable of running on straight up diesel, company founder Shaun Stenshol would be “very angry” if you filled up one of his tanks with anything but eu natural biodiesel.


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  • 13 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      So, when you're following these people who rent these things at inflated costs, does everyone get hungry from the smell of french fries coming out of the exhaust pipe, or - what?

      That'll help "America the Fat" to reduce (weight), eh?

      I go by the adage that if you can smell it, it must include pollution.

      By the way. How can they have these cars in California when diesel powered vehicles cannot be sold new there, or in 4 other states? Hmmmmmm?

      Maybe the Prius (can't smell any exhaust at all) is not such a "loser" as "by something" thinks after all.

      If the hybrid "trend" were dying down, why is it that the Prius has amongst the shortest on-lot time of any vehicle sold in the United States, hmmmmmmm?

      Could it possibly have anything to do with the fact that the "US average price" of gas is 33 cents higher today than it was a year ago today, at $2.33 (substantially higher where I live - lucky us in Northwestern Michigan, eh?). Oh yeah, diesel is SUBSTANTIALLY more expensive than gasoline, nationwide, isn't it? (Yes). Bio-diesel, even MORE expensive.....

      Or, could it have to do with the fact that the Prius only had 3-4 problems per 100 vehicles (Toyota average 12, "domestic" US mfr. average 18) for 3 years in a row? Despite the extreme complex nature of the car? (Which just goes to show that complexity need not equal unreliability - Mercedes, are you taking notes?)

      Gotcha.
      • 8 Years Ago
      To the blogger that said the biggies like Exxon would jack the price's and claim corn is in short supply: I think your absolutely right. The greed that power's the corporate Frankenstein that is the petroleum industry would not diffuse to any degree whatsoever. Their track record speaks volumes. Since when have they ever shown one iota of compassion for their own countrymen during some of the very difficult recessions we faced back in the 70's, now, and anything in between. Keep the reserves' stashed away, make it look like we have a whole lot less than we really do, then jack the price so high only the Corporate Executive's can afford to fill their gas tank to the top. Corn?, yep, one day we will have a President who will send our troops to die on battlefields in countries who are laden with corn, kind of like going after Iraq's oil rich land. The death sentence for infidels caught smuggling corn flakes out of the country.
      Dtown
      • 8 Years Ago
      You can say all you want but your car still only gets 42 mpg 45 at best. I can say the same about my car because at times the information display says I'm getting 45 mpg.

      Second the Prius's hybrid technology adds about $4000 to the car's tab. Even with current $2000 tax deduction and $2.75 per-gallon gas prices, you'd still have to see approximately 135,000 mile on the odometer to pay-down the sticker price difference. I just can't justify paying the extra cost.

      Question, did you buy a Pruis for savings or did you by one because your a tree-hugger??

      If you bought it for the fuel savings you aren't really saving any money do to the extra cost.

      If you are a tree-hugger then you wouldn't be hating on bio-diesel.

      You are trying to stand for something but seem to be a little confused.

      If you enjoy the car and it makes you happy then that's cool with me.

      • 8 Years Ago
      I don't hate on anything, biodiesel included, JSmith. The facts are, current diesels and next generation diesels for automotive use are far dirtier in their exhausts than the best hybrids and in fact, diesels can't even get as clean as conventional gasoline cars.

      I'd like nothing better than to have odor free fuel, whether it's diesel, biodiesel or whatever, grown right here in the USA putting Americans to work, and be able to get 100 mpg zipping back and forth to work, and personally I wouldn't worry whether it was a microturbine, diesel or hybrid doing it!

      But the reality is that yes, during crap winter cold, I am getting 42-44 mpg, but in the summer (with the AC on) I'm getting 50 mpg; I have 5 seats; I have a decent trunk area; I like the looks of my car (I'd always loved the Citroen DS when I was a kid - yeah, I know, I'm weird).

      I'm more of a good Christian Steward than "tree hugger" because I don't worship the creation, but the creator.

      Wasn't the cost of biodiesel $3.45 a gallon, by the way? And people grab their real or mental calculators and curse hybrid drivers for "not ever being able to make back your investment on that thing."

      Just wait until we start paying British prices for fuel, as in $7 a gallon.

      Then anyone with a diesel OR a hybrid will at least still be able to eat. I guess that'll be one way for the overweight majority of we Americans to cut-down, since it appears that most Americans need to mirror their body size with the relative size of their vehicles. Perhaps that's why SUV's are so popular.

      But at $7 a gallon for fuel, they won't be so popular.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Just need to point out that catchy title aside, these are NOT greasers. Vegetable oil (SVO/WVO) and biodiesel are two very different fuels that the media loves to confuse. Yes, both are renewable and domestic, but from an automotive perspective that's where the similarity ends.

      Biodiesel is a straight drop-in replacement for petrodiesel that can be used in a unmodified TDI right off the dealers lot. In comparison, a greaser running SVO/WVO requires a $1000-$1500 modification kit from grease-car, elsbett or neoteric.

      To call Shaun's biodiesel powered VWs greasers only serves to perpetuate the confusion between biodiesel and vegetable oil. Other than that, great article!

      • 8 Years Ago
      I really have to restrain myself from making any jokes about this title. Its just too easy. =*(
      • 8 Years Ago
      Hmm.. the Hybrid trend dying down? Not surprising. A lot of people finally understand that it's a gimmick and that cars like the Prius don't help the environment at all and don't save on gas like they claim.


      Bio diesel & E85 are pricey now but we have an unlimited supply of both and eventually when they become more commonplace in gas stations around the country, they will be less expensive then gasolene.

      Let's just hope companies like Exxon aren't allowed to dominate the industry. They'll jack up the price anyway to get $$$ and claim that Corn is in short supply.

      I have yet to see an E85 Toyota vehicle being marketed. I thought they were the innovators of green machines?
      • 8 Years Ago
      You know, the thing I find funny about this is that the Jetta has a Hawaii license plate. Isn't this taking place in California?
      • 8 Years Ago
      To the blogger that said the biggies like Exxon would jack the price's and claim corn is in short supply: I think your absolutely right. The greed that power's the corporate Frankenstein that is the petroleum industry would not diffuse to any degree whatsoever. Their track record speaks volumes. Since when have they ever shown one iota of compassion for their own countrymen during some of the very difficult recessions we faced back in the 70's, now, and anything in between. Keep the reserves' stashed away, make it look like we have a whole lot less than we really do, then jack the price so high only the Corporate Executive's can afford to fill their gas tank to the top. Corn?, yep, one day we will have a President who will send our troops to die on battlefields in countries who are laden with corn, kind of like going after Iraq's oil rich land. The death sentence for infidels caught smuggling corn flakes out of the country.
      Dtown
      • 8 Years Ago
      Environmental benefits in comparison to petroleum based fuels include:

      Biodiesel reduces emissions of carbon monoxide (CO) by approximately 50 % and carbon dioxide by 78 % on a net lifecycle basis because the carbon in biodiesel emissions is recycled from carbon that was already in the atmosphere, rather than being new carbon from petroleum that was sequestered in the earth's crust. (Sheehan, 1998)

      Biodiesel contains fewer aromatic hydrocarbons: benzofluoranthene: 56 % reduction; Benzopyrenes: 71 % reduction.
      It also eliminates sulfur emissions (SO2), because biodiesel does not contain sulfur.

      Biodiesel reduces by as much as 65 % the emission of particulates, small particles of solid combustion products. This reduces cancer risks by up to 94 % according to testing sponsored by the Department of Energy.

      Biodiesel does produce more NOx emissions than petrodiesel, but these emissions can be reduced through the use of catalytic converters. The increase in NOx emissions may also be due to the higher cetane rating of biodiesel. Properly designed and tuned engines may eliminate this increase.

      Biodiesel has higher cetane rating than petrodiesel, and therefore ignites more rapidly when injected into the engine. It also has the highest BTU content of any alternative fuel in its pure form (B100).

      Biodiesel is biodegradable and non-toxic - tests sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture confirm biodiesel is less toxic than table salt and biodegrades as quickly as sugar.

      Oh and by the way don't hybrids cost more. Let me quote Motor Trend, "A competent accountant would tell you to avoid the Prius." They also only managed to get 41.6 mpg. So don't get mad at us because you spent to much on your car. Oh and don't forget that if you run out of gas and you burn up the batteries trying to get to the gas station Toyota will not pay to replace them.

      One more thing, the reason they aren't sitting on the lots for very long is because there are a lot of people like you in this world, think about it.

      Ignorance is Bliss.
      • 8 Years Ago
      While this isn't a new idea, it bears repeating in this forum since people seem to have taken binary positions on this one. Hybrids make sense... in the right situation. Diesels make even more sense... in the right situation.

      In low-speed, high-congestion driving, the hybrid will have a significant advantage both in emissions and fuel consumption. That's what it's designed for, and it probably wouldn't save me a penny in my short, high-speed low-congestion commute.

      In long-haul, constant-speed driving, diesels are great. They can deliver high mileage and great long-term reliability. Like hybrids, they cost a bit more than "conventional" gasoline engines, plus diesel is a bit more expensive of late.

      For the same reason that we have a range of vehicles from powered skateboards to the Ford Excursion, no one type of vehicle can be all things to all people. I'd like to see lots of people who do mostly stop-and-go driving buy hybrids (it'd probably save lots of gas and reduce pollution in places like LA and NYC) and people who run long distances could save fuel and still have a nice, quiet, reliable car with modern diesels.

      It's difficult to say at this point what will power most vehicles of the future. This automotive X-prize has the potential to bring about a breakthrough in improving a current technology or something totally new. Perhaps we'll all end up with multi-fuel microturbine hybrid systems that can cleanly burn whatever fuel is cheap and available, from E100 to B100 to unleaded regular to that nasty bottle of Everclear someone left after a party last year.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Well, where I live, I could have bought a clattery diesel Volkswagen but I don't like to be left along the road in 5 degrees F. when the thing breaks down.

      We haven't ANY stations locally which sell bio-diesel, and neither does the vast majority of the US.

      The Prius is available now, pollutes about 1/5th as much as a California legal car (emission standards which are far more stringient than Michigan's) and personally, had I not gotten the bug to buy a Prius I'd have bought a mid-sized V6 car obtaining 20 mpg instead of the 44 to 50 mpg (winter / summer) I now get.

      As for "accountants" making statistical arguments against hybrids, I and about a couple hundred thousand people per year could not care less. We're putting our money where our mouths are and obtaining the best possible, clean, fuel saving technology we can - right now - not "doing a Detroit" and doing lip-service (like in, selling hundreds of thousands of Flex-Fuel vehicles to obtain CAFE breaks, yet knowing full well that the cars can't be fuelled because there are a handful of stations only).

      Oh yes, I'm also carpooling with my Prius.

      Thanks for playing.
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