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Clean diesel briefing

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

During a Congressional briefing on Capitol Hill, an industry panel said, as the US advances efforts to increase passenger car mileage and decrease greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the coming years, advanced clean diesel vehicles can play a key role in achieving efficiency and environmental gains providing new government policies do not hinder current or future technological advances. The briefing in question was hosted by non-profit associations Diesel Technology Forum and US Coalition for Advanced Diesel Cars.

The briefing titled, ‘Driving the Future: Technologies are ready to meet future fuel economy and clean air goals; what about policies?’ also included panellists from Cummins Inc. and Volkswagen. Allen Schaeffer, Executive Director, Diesel Technology Forum, opened the briefing with an explanation of the evolution of clean diesel, which now includes new ultra low sulphur diesel fuel combined with the most energy efficient internal combustion engines and the most advanced emissions controls. This has resulted in a 97% reduction in the sulphur in diesel fuel and more than 98% reductions in particulate matter and NOx.

Ready for the job

Schaeffer also added that the US has a variety of diverse fuel type vehicles to choose from, including turbo charged gasoline, hybrid, plug in hybrid electrics, battery electric vehicles, natural gas, and clean diesels. Schaeffer said, “we currently have a new generation of clean diesel passenger vehicles with proven real world fuel efficiency. These vehicles are clean with low CO2 emissions, they provide great performance, they are renewable fuel ready and most important, they are available to the American public right now. Clean diesel is not a bridge concept or down the road expectation, these vehicles are on the road right now providing impressive hybrid like mileage and meeting the same emissions standards as gasoline vehicles.”

Schaeffer also said that clean diesels have growing interest from manufacturers and consumers with an expectation of the diesel market to grow from today’s 3% market share to as much as 10% by 2020.

Clean, efficient and powerful

Michael J. Ruth, Cummins Inc., highlighted the fact that new diesel vehicles that are available to day are clean, efficient and powerful with 20 – 40% better fuel efficiency than gasoline vehicles, and responsive power for a positive driving experience. Ruth also commented that new diesels are clean with may diesels now below the required fleet average required NOx values. Also, they are efficient with diesels providing conventional powertrain options with outstanding fuel economy that can exceed CAFÉ values. In addition, they are powerful as diesels can deliver torque equivalent to gasoline engines nearly twice the size, at cruise engine speeds and they deliver a comfortable driving experience.

A glimpse of the future was also provided with the Cummins ATLAS program of engine development in conjunction with the US DoE, which is producing a light weight, fuel efficient and powerful 2.8 l diesel engine that achieves near zero emissions.

The real world

It was noted by Douglas Skorupski of Volkswagen of America Inc., that the Volkswagen Group is the leader in US diesel car sales with approximately a 70% market share with significant sales increases in four of the last five years. He also showed data that indicated four of Volkswagen’s six diesel vehicles exceeded a 30% take rate, the percentage of diesels customers chose when a gasoline version is also available.

Also, Skorupski said, “the real world driving experience” of diesels includes an analysis of self reported fuel economy that demonstrated a majority of diesel users reporting fuel economy above the mileage o EPA window stickers. Skorupski also provided a glimpse of the future with Volkswagen’s XL1 vehicle, which was sold in Europe but not the US. The XL1 is the most efficient car in the world with 261 m/gal., a 47hp TDI clean diesel engine with a 27hp electric motor, and plug in hybrid powertrain.

No policy justification

It was outlined by Jeffrey Breneman, the Executive Director of the US Coalition of Advanced Diesel Cars, that the numerous green awards diesel cars and pickup trucks have won in the past year including the Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel being named ‘2015 Green SUV of the Year’ by Green Car Journal and the Volkswagen Passat winning ‘Eco-Friendly Car of the Year.” Breneman also said that a major policy that unfairly hurts diesel cars and pickup drivers is the disparity in the federal fuel tax, which costs 18.4 cents/gal. for gasoline but a higher 24.4 cents/gal. for diesel in the US. Breneman commented, “there are over 7 million diesel cars and light trucks on the road today paying a diesel fuel tax penalty every time they fill up at the pump. There is no policy justification for taxing diesel fuel at a disproportionate rate.”

Breneman also commented that transportation and taxation policies should be technology neutral and not unfairly favour some fuel types or unfairly favour others.

Edited from press release by Claira Lloyd

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