With diesel being hailed as the next step in the progression of powertrain efficiency, we guess it's time that the naysayers start crawling out of the woodwork as is their habit. OK, maybe that's a bit unfair - perhaps it is possible to register some legitimate complaints about the oil-burners.
First up are concerns over refinery capacity, which without a doubt is a very real and very serious issue facing those who use diesel (and similarly refined products as well, such as kerosene, jet fuel, and heating oil). Recall that diesel prices skyrocketed faster than gasoline prices after last year's devastating Hurricane Katrina, and then proceeded to hang around the $3.50 mark for a few months afterwards. Combine the tightness of supply with ever-increasing usage of diesel by the over-the-road trucking industry, and it's clear that the issue will need to be addressed - regardless of car-buying trends. Certainly, though, another spike in diesel prices could very well kill any building momentum for pass-car diesels.Shockingly enough, this linked article from the New York Times manages to run two pages without mentioning the Oldsmobile diesel from the '80s or registering concerns about the smell of diesel during the refueling process.
Read on for more diesel disccusion after the jump...
Another concern has to do with the misalignment between perceived fuel economy (the miles-per-gallon figure), and the "actual" economy that takes into account the greater energy density of diesel fuel. Certainly this is a valid point, and it knocks a bit of the shine off the EPA and reported "real-world" economy estimates. But even if we take the 11% or so difference in energy into account, diesel still comes out strongly ahead. Perhaps we need to start quoting fuel economy figures in BTU/mile (or for those using the metric system, joules per 100km)?
A final argument is made against diesel by stating that European diesel drivers tend to put on more miles anyways, negating any decrease in fuel consumption that would be the result of greater efficiency. It's difficult to say whether this is true or if it's actually a case of heavier drivers purchasing a more efficient vehicle, but either way it doesn't strike us as a good reason to pick any other alternative-fuel technology over diesel.
[Source: New York Times]