2011 Nissan Leaf Electric Car: Review Roundup


The Nissan Leaf is a major attempt at delivering the prototypical electric car that will revolutionize green personal transportation. Let’s see what the automotive press has to say about this year’s model.

2011 Nissan Leaf Electric Car Review

MotorTrend – Full Drive: 2011 Nissan Leaf (10/27/10)

The review team at MotorTrend has this to say about the Leaf: “It’s mostly unremarkable as a ‘Car of the Future.’ And while that may seem like damning it with faint praise, it’s really the highest praise this car can be given.” The point being is that this is an approachable car for the mass car-buying demographic. In fact, they say that driving the Leaf is just like driving any other gas-powered four-cylinder hatchback and the electric car learning curve was painless.

The review spends some time discussing the Leaf’s range (averaging 100 miles, but dropping to 60 in difficult conditions like winter rush hour) and charging time (20 hours at 120 volts, 8 hours at 240 volts). They note that “Nissan is banking on the advent of ‘Quick Charge’ stations wired to commercial-grade 440-volt power supplies that can give you an 80-percent charge in just 30 minutes.” How much would it cost to charge? Charging prices are difficult to gauge, because electricity utility rates vary by location and even time of day. In Los Angeles, they estimate, “It works out to anywhere from $1.10 to $3.84 for a full charge.” Continue reading “2011 Nissan Leaf Electric Car: Review Roundup”

2011 BMW 335d Diesel Sedan: Review Roundup

BMW 335d Diesel Review RoundupThe BMW 335d is a diesel-burning luxury mid-size sedan. Originally released in 2009, this car has garnered breathless reviews. It’s apparently a lot of fun to drive. Unfortunately, 2011 will be the last production year for this car, as BMW makes way for its next generation of the 3-series. Apart from a new Sport package and better stereo equipment, the car has remained the same since 2009. All the reviews mentioned are for 2009, except for Automobile’s, which covers 2010.

MotorTrend – First Drive: 2009 BMW 335d (October 2008)

MotorTrend is practically panting when its review starts: “Prepare to have your prejudices shattered and your perceptions altered. Prepare to relearn everything you thought you knew about performance cars. Prepare to drive the 2009 BMW 335d.”

What drives every red-blooded reviewer crazy is the 335d’s engine, which MotorTrend describes as “a twin-turbo, 3.0L straight-six that delivers 265 hp… and a thumping 425 lb-ft of torque between 1750 and 2250 rpm.” It’s paired with a six-speed automatic transmission, going from 0 to 60 mph in six seconds. And, because it’s a diesel, fuel efficiency is 23 mpg city and 36 mpg on the highway. Continue reading “2011 BMW 335d Diesel Sedan: Review Roundup”

Five Cool Diesel Cars You Can’t Buy in the U.S. — Plus Two You Might


To the average American car buyer, diesel is synonymous with truckers, farm equipment, and an upscale clothing brand. For Europeans however, diesel is the must-have fuel for those who can’t stomach the $8.70/gal (current average price in Germany) for gasoline. With diesel selling for $1 less per gallon and providing greater fuel economy, it’s no wonder more Europeans prefer diesel cars. While American fuel prices remain far cheaper, recent price hikes have had more people asking: where’s our diesel option?

A host of factors have contributed to the dearth of diesel cars here in the United States. Until 2007, the allowable sulfur content in American diesel fuel was far higher than in Europe, requiring manufacturers to completely re-engineer engines for our market. While the sulfur content is now the same, American limits on NOx and NO2 emissions are still significantly lower than their European counterparts, demanding use of an expensive urea-injection additive such as AdBlue to meet standards. Higher labor costs have also been an issue, as most diesels built in European countries suffer from unfavorable exchange rates when exported overseas. Building a diesel engine factory in either the U.S. or Mexico would reduce labor cost – if buyers can be found for the 350,000 units a year a typical $350 million factory puts out. Finally, EPA certification for a new engine adds even more to the bottom line. Continue reading “Five Cool Diesel Cars You Can’t Buy in the U.S. — Plus Two You Might”

2012 Diesel Cars in USA: Here’s the Lineup

2012 Volkswagan Passat Diesel
2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI courtesy of VW.com

Update: Our 2013 Diesel Cars in the USA article is now available!

In the market for a vehicle and thinking about buying a new diesel car in 2012? It’s an idea worth considering.

From images of long-haul trucking, to nightmares of sitting in the back of a grandparent’s noxious Olds vista cruiser diesel, Americans haven’t shown too much interest in diesel cars in the past. Yet with the economy still in the doldrums, and gas prices rising faster than an express elevator, diesel cars are suddenly getting a lot more attention.

The good news is that many of the world’s manufacturers make great diesel products. The bad news is that lack of domestic demand and tightening budgets mean that few have been certified for sale in the U.S. The EPA has more stringent requirements than Europe does for controlling NOx – Nitric Oxide, the key compound that produces smog. The technology to meet these standards exists, but it’s expensive (to develop, manufacture and certify), which is why many of the diesels you see on the market in the U.S. are at the high end of the price range.

This issue is also the reason why there are so many diesel cars available in other countries that are not available in the United States. Simply put, it’s so expensive to develop a diesel engine that meets US emissions standards that most manufacturers don’t bother. Particularly since diesels have never been a popular engine choice in the US market.

It also doesn’t help that the average price per gallon of diesel in the U.S. (as of June 2011) is 25 cents more than gasoline. However, a diesel’s increased miles per gallon means that it usually comes out ahead on overall savings, thus the new surge in consumer interest. Check out this article for more on the differences between American and European diesel markets.

Nonetheless, there are some excellent diesel alternative cars, SUVs and pick-up trucks for sale in America right now.

Here’s the lineup. We’re still adding photos of these cars as the 2012 photos become available. Continue reading “2012 Diesel Cars in USA: Here’s the Lineup”

10 Fun Facts About Electric Cars

Tesla electric car
CC Flickr photo of Tesla electric car courtesy of faceme.

Electric cars are getting a lot of attention lately. With a growing concern about the impacts that driving has on our environment, consumers and automakers are moving towards more sustainable models. Electric cars are just like regular cars, but they have electric motors that run on electricity from a battery, instead of (or sometimes in addition to) an internal combustion energy that burns gasoline. This means reduced or no greenhouse-gas emissions. While some electric vehicle models feature a small gas engine to compliment the electric drivetrain, some models run on battery power alone.

Here’s a list of 10 fun facts about electric cars: Continue reading “10 Fun Facts About Electric Cars”

Future Electric Cars: 2012 and Beyond

Update: Our 2013 Electric Cars in the USA article is now available.

The future’s looking bright for sustainable cars. You may have read our article on Electric Cars for 2011 and wondered what is ahead for 2012 and beyond. Here’s a preview of what’s in development. We’ll provide specs where we can, but as many of these are early-stage concepts, you can’t really take the car company’s word for it. Once the automotive press gets ahold of it and consumers can drive it, then we will have a good idea of each car’s strengths and weaknesses.

To briefly recap, electric cars have an electric drivetrain with power coming from powerful, high-tech batteries. Electric cars can be plug-ins, or feature a small, fuel-powered internal combustion engine that works as a generator to recharge the batteries. Hybrids feature a mixed electric/gas-powered drivetrain. We’ll just be covering electric cars here.

Future Electric Cars 2012
The Mitsubishi “i”

Continue reading “Future Electric Cars: 2012 and Beyond”

Why Get a Hybrid Car?

Ever wondered if it really makes sense to buy a hybrid car?

If you’re frustrated with the environmental impact of fossil fuel consumption, as well as paying nearly $4 a gallon at the gas pump, you may want to consider buying a hybrid electric vehicle.

Why Buy a Hybrid
CC flickr photo courtesy of Beth and Christian

What is a Hybrid?

Hybrids, like Toyota’s popular Prius model, use a combination of a small, gas-powered internal combustion engine and electric motors to power the drivetrain. Electricity is stored in your car’s batteries. A typical car has one battery, to act as a starter and power electric features in your car, such as power windows or locks. A hybrid might have an array of batteries, which do all those things, but also powers the drivetrain itself. The Prius, like many hybrids, has an acceleration and speed threshold where the battery itself can power your car, up to a certain point. When your battery power is spent, or if the car needs to accelerate faster than the battery can handle by itself, the gas engine is fired up and does the work. Many hybrids also feature regenerative braking. This means that the force of your brakes is harnessed by small generators that give your battery a small charge. Your gas engine is also used as a generator to recharge your battery. Continue reading “Why Get a Hybrid Car?”

Review Roundup: 2011 Audi A3 Clean Diesel TDI

2011 Audi A3 TDI clean diesel car

The USA is a big country: there’s 9,826,000 square miles, and 307 million people. By comparison, Europe covers just 3,930,000 miles, yet there’s 852 million people there. Cram that many more people into an area that’s a third the size of the U.S., and you could see where size would become an issue – especially when it comes to parking a car.

That’s one reason why small hatchbacks are so popular over there. They’re easy to park, they have lots of room, and they get great gas mileage. Which is important too, because gas can cost up to $8 per gallon in some parts of Europe.

So, if you lived over there, the most logical car to buy would be a diesel hatchback. But that sounds even more boring to take on the road than a base-model Prius – or does it?

The 2011 Audi A3 TDI is a luxury version of the popular Euro diesel hatchback and, named the 2010 Green Car of the Year, has become a strong seller in the U.S. It has standard leather, the S Line exterior pack with spoilers, badges and 17-inch wheels, dual-zone climate control, satellite radio, and of course, an economical 2.0 TDI engine.

But the diesel found in this Audi is a far cry from the noisy, stinky clatter-box that most Americans used to assume they would be getting. This 2.0 liter, direct-injected (called Common Rail in diesel-speak) oil burner is both responsive, and earth-friendly. Also found in the Volkswagen Jetta/Golf TDI, this engine uses a vapor trap to capture NOx emissions, then it routes them back to the engine to be re-burned during combustion. As a result, the Audi A3 TDI emits just 0.07 grams of NOx per mile, which is quite impressive for a diesel.

Besides the cleanliness and the fuel economy (30/42 MPG), this TDI produces enough torque to provide satisfying acceleration. Rated at 140-hp and 236 lb-ft of torque, this engine can propel the A3 TDI from 0-60 in just 8.9 seconds – that’s not bad for what’s basically an economy car. You can have a green, economical car that’s not terrible to drive.

And what’s more, since Audi is a luxury brand, you can outfit your A3 TDI with all sorts of goodies. There’s a Sport Package with 18-inch wheels and a stiffer suspension, a Convenience Package with upgraded BOSE audio, automatic lights, wipers and (dimming) mirrors, and parking sensors (in case you can’t drive), a Cold Weather Pack with heated seats, mirrors and washer nozzles, a Bluetooth Pack, a twin-pane sunroof, Navigation, rear-side airbags, and a broad assortment of interior and exterior trim packages.

By the time you add on all of the options, the 2011 Audi A3 TDI can get pretty expensive, especially when you consider that it has the same chassis and engine as the VW Golf/Jetta TDI. Some consumers writing on Edmunds.com feel that, for the price, Audi scrimped on some basic features and risks missing their target market. (The fact that the A3 TDI does not come with standard transmission or the fabled Audi Quattro AWD turns off some potential buyers from the get-go.)

Others say that doesn’t detract from its overall smooth handling and responsiveness, and that the Audi A3 TDI is a real step up from their other economy cars. And, besides, studies show that diesel cars easily recoup their initially high price tag – they have a lower “total cost of ownership” thanks to better fuel economy and resale value.

Do you own an Audi A3 clean diesel?

If so, leave a comment and tell us what you think about it, and what kind of gas mileage you’re getting in the real world.

Teddy Field got his start in the auto industry at the age of 17. He is a recognized car dealer sales & management consultant, an automotive journalist, and a regular contributor to http://www.bestcardealsnewyork.com.

Best Gas Mileage 2011 Diesel Pickups and SUVs

Looking for a list of the most fuel efficient diesel pickup and SUV models in the US market that get the best gas mileage? You’ve come to the right place.

Americans love their SUVs.

They’re tall, so mom has a commanding view of the road, and they’re big enough to haul a team of soccer players, complete with their gear. (If you’re single, they’re big enough for your dogs/mountain bikes/entire Star Wars collection). Plus, some of them can even go off road (handy if the soccer field gets wet).

Pickup trucks are equally popular with Americans, but usually for more practical reasons. They can go from the jobsite to the football field and still look good. You can go through all sorts of terrain, while carrying massive amounts of…whatever. In fact, those Super-Duper Duty ones can even tow trains and jumbo jets.

But the one thing that neither of these kinds of vehicles are good at is getting good fuel mileage – just look at some scary MPG stats from dedicated truck owners. Until now, that is.

More and more consumers are demanding an alternative to expensive, gas burning engines, which is one reason that hybrids have become so popular. However, some schools of thought suggest that mining for the raw materials used in a hybrid battery can cause even more environmental damage than the emissions from a diesel.

With an eye on US environmental regulations, many European car makers are designing diesel engines that will comply with our strict emission rules.

American automakers are getting on the diesel bandwagon too, by offering more powerful and efficient diesel engines in their most popular trucks.

But sadly, there isn’t much of a selection yet.

For diesel powered SUVs, there’s the 2011 Volkswagen Touareg TDI, the 2011 BMW X5 xDrive35d, the 2011 Audi Q7 TDI and the Mercedes ML350 BlueTEC.

Although these are expensive, they are luxury SUVs. Don’t forget, “what you see on today’s luxury car, will be standard on tomorrow’s base model”. So, think of these as a sign of things to come.

2011 Volkswagen Touareg TDI Sport

Base price: $47,950

Engine: 3.0 liter V6 TDI – 225-hp – 406 lb-ft torque – AWD

Fuel Economy: 19/28

Fuel Tank Capacity: 26.4 gallons

Greenhouse Gasses Emitted per Year: 7.66 (tons)

Highlights: Standard navigation, leather, xeon headlights, rear-view camera, Bluetooth/iPod, 18-inch wheels.

2011 Mercedes Benz ML350 BlueTEC

Base price: $50,490

Engine: 3.0 liter V6 TDI – 210-hp – 400 lb-ft torque – AWD

Fuel Economy: 18/25

Fuel Tank Capacity: 25.1 gallons

Greenhouse Gasses Emitted per Year: 8.02 (tons)

Highlights: The Mercedes doesn’t offer much in the way of standard equipment. So, if you want one that has leather and navigation, you’re going to have to order the Leather Package for $1,780, & the Premium 1 package for $4,000. Otherwise, you’re going to get vinyl seats and a steering wheel…for Fifty-Grand.

2011 Audi Q7 TDI Premium

Base price: $51,450

Engine: 3.0 liter V6 TDI – 225-hp – 406 lb-ft torque – AWD

Fuel Economy: 17/25

Fuel Tank Capacity: 26.4 gallons

Greenhouse Gasses Emitted per Year: 8.42 (tons)

Highlights: Standard leather, LED tail lights, parking sensors, heated seats, power tailgate, Bluetooth/iPod, 19-inch wheels & 7-passenger seating.

2011 BMW X5 xDrive35d

Base price: $51,800

Engine: 3.0 liter inline-6 TDI – 265-hp – 425 lb-ft torque – AWD

Fuel Economy: 19/26

Fuel Tank Capacity: 22.5 gallons

Greenhouse Gasses Emitted per Year: 7.66 (tons)

Highlights: Standard navigation, leather, rear-seat TV system, satellite radio, head-up display, parking sensors.

 

Diesel trucks

Diesel powered pickups are limited to the Ford SuperDuty, the Chevrolet HD, and the Dodge 2500/3500. However, these are ¾ ton – 1 ton trucks.

None of the popular ½ ton models are available with a diesel engine. And, none of the ¾ ton (and up) trucks are required to have their fuel mileage certified by the EPA.

This is because they’re considered to be commercial vehicles. Plus, there’s a mind-boggling array of mechanical options (like axle ratios, transmissions, etc.) which can effect the fuel mileage.

Since there are no official MPG numbers for these trucks, the fuel mileages listed below are based on owner accounts, and can vary based on the model, and chosen equipment.

The base prices listed are for a ¾ ton, regular cab, 2WD with an automatic transmission, diesel engine, and standard equipment. Once you start adding on the options, these diesel pickups can eclipse $40,000 real quick.

2011 Ram 2500/3500

Base price: $27,450

Engine: 6.7 liter inline-6 TDI – 350-hp – 650 lb-ft torque – RWD

Fuel Economy: 13-15 mpg (est)

Fuel Tank Capacity: 34 gallons

NOx Gas Emitted per Mile: 0.2 grams

Highlights: The Cummins diesel in these Ram trucks uses special chambers to collect polluting gasses, then the system heats up, burning off the pollutants. Here, some tips for drivers tailored to the Dodge owner.

2011 Ford F250 / F350 / F450 / F550 SuperDuty

Base price: $36,340

Engine: 6.7 liter V8 TDI – 400-hp – 800 lb-ft torque – RWD

Fuel Economy: 15/22 (est)

Fuel Tank Capacity: 37.5 gallons

NOx Gas Emitted per Mile: 0.2 grams

Highlights: Ford’s Power Stroke diesel uses an injector to spray urea into the exhaust. The heat from the exhaust turns the urea to ammonia, which then turns the NOx gasses into nitrogen gas, and water inside of a specially designed catalytic convertor. Drivers are already reporting first-hand on higher MPG here and here.

 

2011 Chevrolet 2500HD / 3500HD

Base price: $37,355

Engine: 6.6 liter V8 TDI – 397-hp – 765 lb-ft torque – RWD

Fuel Economy: 13/19 (est)

Fuel Tank Capacity: 36 gallons

NOx Gas Emitted per Mile: 0.2 grams

Highlights: Chevrolet’s Duramax diesel uses a similar urea injection system as Ford’s Power Stroke diesel.

But regardless of how you look at the high initial cost, you still wind up with a vehicle that gets good fuel mileage for its class, and that’s a real boon with predicted gas hikes what they are. Plus, the long-term reliability of diesel engines is better established and proven than the more complicated hybrid.

Teddy Field got his start in the auto industry at the age of 17. He is a recognized car dealer sales & management consultant, an automotive journalist, and a regular contributor to http://www.bestcardealsnewyork.com.

Volkswagen TDI real life diesel gas mileage: wow!

Two summers ago (in 2008), I bought a used 2007 Prius.

But it wasn’t my first choice of automobile. You see, what I really wanted to buy was a white 2009 Volkswagen TDI Jetta or Jetta wagon. They were just coming out in the US, and there was a big waiting list.

I put down my deposit and waited, and waited. But after six weeks, there was still nothing in sight for my desired color and options.

The funny part was that there was a huge waiting list for the Prius too, because it was the period of time when gas was really expensive, and everyone was panicking and buying high mileage cars.

One day I called my Volkswagen sales guy to complain and gave him the idle threat, “Oh well, it’s no big deal if you can’t get me a Jetta, I guess. If Toyota calls me and says they have a white Prius first, I’ll just buy that instead.”

That’s when the salesman told me that he actually had a 2007 used white Prius on their Volkswagen lot that they had just taken as a trade in, with only 12,000 miles on it, at a really good price.

So I jumped and bought it. And it’s actually been a great car.

But I still look back and think, “What if I could have gotten a Jetta clean diesel instead?”

Today, by complete accident, I ran into the Volkswagen TDI Tank Wars web site. It’s a site where you can take a photo of your dashboard displaying your real life gas mileage with any TDI clean diesel Volkswagen.

There are real people who are getting 50, 60,  and 70 miles per gallon! The leader got 98 miles per gallon!

You have to drive at least 15 miles before you’re eligible to upload a dashboard photo. But many of these people are showing hundreds or thousands of miles of getting this kind of mileage.

How’s that for awesome?

Check it out yourself at the Volkswagen Tank Wars web site.

What kind of real life mileage have you gotten with your VW clean diesel car, and which model was it?

Leave a comment and tell us!

2011 Electric Cars in the USA: Here’s the Lineup

Recently, there have been great strides in not only diesel and hybrid cars, but also in electric cars. A few electric cars that we’ve seen manufactured have really put a heavy emphasis on performance, which is a nice change of pace from older cars we’ve seen that were known as “low speed.” You know, the ones you aren’t even allowed to drive on roads with a speed limit higher than 35 mph!

Here’s a list of the most promising electric cars that we should see available in the USA in 2011.


Nissan Leaf – The Nissan Leaf electric car is a 100 percent electric vehicle that requires no gasoline. It can seat up to 5 passengers, has 5 doors, and a range of 100 miles per charge. It runs on a 24 kWh lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery, and has a variety of different features, ranging from push button ignition, to navigation, and so on.

With a 100 mile per charge range, a car as such is going to be great for suburban commutes or short back and forth trips daily. It’s made in America, and will go for just under $26,000 (after all applicable tax credits are applied). More information can be found on the Nissan Leaf Website.

This one looks like it could be a Prius killer for urban drivers. I’ve heard that Lance Armstrong has one reserved already.

Chevrolet Volt – Now, technically the Chevy Volt is actually a hybrid, as it features a gas engine that recharges the battery. However, the powertrain is only powered by an electric motor, so we decided to include it to our list. The Chevy Volt will charge overnight, and when you’re ready to go will run on a charge for 40 miles, free of gas and emissions.

After that, the Volt uses a range-extending gas generator that produces energy to power it for hundreds of miles on a tank of gas. There’s more information to be found about the Chevrolet Volt electric car on their official website.


Coda – The Coda electric car can seat up to 4 passengers, and is powered by a 728 cell lithium-iron phosphate battery. This car has a range of 90-120 miles, with a top speed of 80 mph. As far as warranty is concerned, the Coda features a 3-year/36,000 mile limited vehicle warranty. In addition, the battery covered for 8 years/100,000 miles.

More information about the Coda Electric Car can be found on the official Coda website.


Fisker Karma – Much like the Chevrolet Volt, the Fisker Karma electric car is also somewhat of a hybrid that features a gas engine to recharge the battery, yet only uses an electric motor for the powertrain.

Designed by Henrik Fisker (who is known for his work on the BMW Z8, the Aston Martin DB9 and the Aston Martin V8 Vantage), the Karma boasts a 300 mile range and can go from 0-60 in less than 6 seconds, featuring a top speed 125 mph (200 km/h).

The car also features two Driving Modes: stealth drive (a quiet economy mode) and sport drive (which accesses the full power of the vehicle).

Here’s how the car works: it uses what is known as “Q-DRIVE plug-in hybrid technology.” A fully-charged Karma burns no fuel for the first 50 miles. After 50 miles, the gasoline engine turns a generator to charge the lithium ion battery. From there, the car operates as a normal hybrid vehicle.

A balance of gas and electricity as such can help the driver achieve an average fuel economy of 100 mpg (2.4L/100km) per year.

For more information on the Fisker Karma, check out the Official Fisker Karma website.

Ford Focus eV – You may have recently seen the Ford Focus electric automobiles on Jay Leno’s ‘Green Car Challenge’ where he and guests on the show go head to head in an obstacle course with one of the Focus eV Electric Cars.

Hopefully in 2011 this battery-powered version Focus should be available in a limited fashion (with at best – a possible 5,000 manufactured for the first couple of years). The drivetrain of the Focus has been engineered by Magna International, a Canadian company. The Focus will have a 100-mile range and will rely on lithium-ion batteries.


Tesla Roadster – The Tesla Roadster is a pretty hot sports car. You may have seen some of our posts here on The Practical Environmentalist that look into an ongoing back and forth exchange between Tesla and Fisker. The Roadster is a high performance machine – going from 0-60 mph in just 3.9 seconds! In addition, it can go up to 245 miles on a single charge!

So what we’ve essentially got here is high power performance in an eco-friendly fashion. The Tesla Roadster literally redefines everything that you may have thought to be true of an electric car.

Now, the price tag is pretty hefty – as the Tesla electric car rivals any high powered sports car price tag (leasing one, for example will cost you just under $1700 per month). However, for the car enthusiast and the eco-friendly connoisseur, this is the ultimate in electric powered vehicles.

Want to learn more about the Tesla? Surely your interest must be piqued! Check out the Official Tesla Motors Website for more great information on the Roadster. Tesla is evidently also working on a four door electric car that will cost in the $60K range, after tax breaks. Not sure when that one will hit the market.


Think City – The Think City electric car is slated to be available in the US for 2011. This electric car has a range of around 75-100 miles per single charge. It runs on the Zebra sodium battery and Lithium-Ion battery from EnerDel, and can be charged through a conventional socket.

The features on this car are just like you would want on any other automobile – airbags, mp3 player, bluetooth enabled, ABS – and is a two door, multiple passenger car that should perform well for city traffic, and for the daily commute. Not to mention – you’re also helping the environment.

More information about the Think City can be found on the Think Website.

Update: Toyota contracts with Tesla to bring electric RAV4 back in 2012

We’ve read reports that apparently the Toyota Corporation has contracted with Tesla to help bring back the electric Rav4. They plan to use a Tesla powertrain and battery pack with the RAV4 body.

Toyota has set a goal to release a car in the US by 2012, so it won’t be in the US in 2011. But hopefullly by 2012 we’ll see an electric car by Toyota back on the market. The electric Rav4 was made from 1997 to 2003 and had a range of 100 miles.

What about other electric cars?

There are a handful of other electric cars that have been proposed, but many of these are still “in production” phases, or are “low speed” vehicles, that are great for suburban and neighborhood travel, but aren’t ideal or ready yet for highway travel. Then there are others that look much like golf carts, which you certainly can’t take to work with you day in and day out.

Still, these are some great options, and some promising new developments in the world of electric vehicles!

Did we miss anything on the list? Let us know in the comments!

2011 diesel cars in the USA: here’s the lineup

Have you seen our new 2012 diesel car lineup post?

There have been a few exciting new developments in diesel automobiles available in the United States since we published our 2010 list, but for the most part the diesel vehicles available in the US remain the same.

A wide variety of car manufacturers have diesel available in Europe, but the stricter emissions standards in the States have prevented them from bringing those models over here. It’s evidently quite expensive to upgrade a standard diesel engine so that it meets US “clean diesel” standards. Therefore, while there are some diesel powered cars available in the United States, it’s currently a minority market.

Without further hesitation, here’s our list of diesel powered cars for 2011 in the US:

Acura – There has been speculation of an Acura diesel model in the US for 2011, but recent updates show that the manufacturer is currently shying away from one being offered in the US. Currently, there is no diesel model available.

Audi – Audi will continue to offer its TDI diesel line. Complete information can be found on the Audi TDI site. The two cars offered are the Audi A3 TDI and the Audi Q7 TDI.


In 2010, the A3 was listed as the Green Car Journal’s ‘Green Car of The Year.’ It gets 30 mpg hwy and 42 mpg city. You may also remember it from the Green Police Ad featured during the last Superbowl.


The Q7 TDI is Audi’s diesel powered SUV. This SUV gets 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. Coincidentally, it’s also the same diesel engine that the Porsche Diesel engine is based off of (however, Porsche currently only has a diesel model available in Europe). More information about the Q7 can be found here.

BMW – Many will argue that Bavarian Motor Works make some of the finest cars out there. Not to be outdone, BMW also offers two different diesel models: The 335d and the X5 xDrive 35d.


The 335d sedan features a 3.0L 6cyl Turbodiesel 6A engine, and gets 23 mpg city and 36 mpg highway (for a combined total of 27).


The 2011 BMW X5 xDrive 35d features is a 265 horsepower, 3.0-liter, inline 6-cylinder engine with TwinPower Turbo technology that gets 19 mpg city and 26 mpg highway.

Buick – There are no Buick diesel models available in the US for 2011.

Cadillac – Cadillac does not currently offer any of their models in Diesel.

Chevrolet – There are no Chevy cars that feature diesel, but the 2011 Chevrolet Silverado HD Pickup Truck comes with a Duramax 6.6L Turbo-Diesel V8 that has an output of 397 max horsepower and 765 lb.-ft. of torque.

This truck is supposed to have a 11% increase in fuel saving technology over the 2010 model.

Chrysler/Jeep/Dodge – Chrysler and Jeep do not offer any cars with diesel capabilities for 2011. Dodge, however does. The 2011 Ram Chassis is available in diesel (if you plan to do a lot of heavy loading from now and then, or are really just a hoss).

In addition, the 2011 Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 models are also slated to be diesel trucks, with the 2500 typically getting 15 mpg city and 20 hwy.

Ford – Cars, not so much. Trucks, Yes. The Ford Super Duty models (F-250, F-350, and F-450) are all available with a 6.7L Power Stroke(R) V8 Turbo Diesel Engine.

These trucks are workhorses, but can also be the maximum in comfort. The King Ranch edition, for example comes fully loaded so you can utilize your truck in style as well as in an alternative fuel manner.

GMC – Much like Chevy, GMC will feature the Sierra 2500 HD and 3500 HD models with a diesel engine.

Honda – While there has been plenty of speculation and hope of Honda releasing a 2011 diesel model in the US, it doesn’t appear as if that will be happening.

Hyundai – The folks over at Hyundai currently have no diesel models slated for the US in 2011.

Kia – Kia currently does not have a diesel powered car in the US market.

Lexus – While there are plenty of fuel efficient hybrids that Lexus has to offer, they currently do not have a diesel model available in the United States.

Lincoln – There are no Lincoln diesel models listed for the 2011 year.

Mazda – No diesel models are listed for 2011.

Mercedes-Benz – Mercedes features three models with their diesel Bluetec system. These models are the ML350, the GL350, and the R350. The R350 model is a crossover, while the G and M models are sport utility vehicles.

As far as gas mileage is concerned the M class will get 18 mpg city and 25 mpg highway, the G class will get 17 mpg city and 23 mpg highway, and the R class will get 18 mpg city and 24 mpg highway. These models were also available in 2010.

Mercury – There are no Mercury diesel models listed for 2011.

Mitsubishi –2011 does not have any diesel models listed for Mercury.

Nissan – There are no diesel cars slated to come out for Nissan in 2011, despite some speculation.

Pontiac – There are no new Pontiacs for 2011, or ever for that matter. Hence, there will be no Pontiac models available as diesel powered cars either.

Porsche – While there is a Porsche Cayenne diesel powered SUV available in Europe, there is not currently one available in the USA.

However, a unique fact is that the engine technology used for the Porsche Cayenne Diesel features the same look and basic engine design of the Volkswagon Toureg TDI and the Audi Q7 TDI, both of which are available in the United States of America.

Saab – There are currently no Saab diesel models slated for 2011 in America.

Saturn – There are currently no Saturn diesel models available. Much like Pontiac, there will be no more Saturns made ever. So hope you weren’t holding out hope for a Saturn diesel model, because quite simply put: it’s not going to happen.

Subaru – Subaru unfortunately doesn’t have any diesel models available in the US, although they are available in Europe.

Toyota – There has also been some buzz and speculation of Toyota potentially releasing a diesel model in the US in 2011, but this will not be the case either.

Volkswagen – Ah yes, the “V-dub.” There are actually four Volkswagen diesel models available in the United States. They are the Touareg TDI (a sport utility vehicle), the Jetta TDI, The Jetta SportWagen TDI, and the Volkswagen Golf.

Gas Milage for the Touareg is 18 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. For the Jetta, it’s a whopping 30 mpg and 42 mpg highway. As far as the golf is concerned, you’re going to be looking at a very similar number: 30 mpg city and 41 mpg highway.

Volvo – There have been Volvo diesels before, and there are Volvo diesel cars overseas, but 2011 will not see any Volvo diesel cars in the United States.

Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!

2010 diesel cars in the USA: here’s the lineup

Wait! Have you seen our guide to 2011 diesel cars yet?

There really hasn’t been any significant increase in the number of diesel cars available on the US market since our 2009 diesel car post from last year.  While common in Europe, stricter emissions requirements in some states and the recent temporary bout of high priced diesel fuel here has most car manufacturers hesitant to invest the money for what has only shown to be a small segment of the market so far in the United States.

Here is this year’s list of which 2010 diesel cars that automobile manufacturers will be offering:

ACURA:

Acura does not offer a diesel model.

AUDI:

Q7TDIandA3TDI__mid
AUDI Q7 and A3 TDI, courtesy Audi

A3 2.0 TDI clean diesel is available, details here, a small hatchback that gets 30 mpg hwy, 42 city.

Audi Q7 TDI will be Audi’s diesel engined SUV, getting 17 mpg city, 25 mpg hwy.  Details available here.

These vehicle will take a maximum of B5 biodiesel.

BMW:

From BMW USA:

335d“We offer two diesels, the BMW Advanced Diesel 335d and the X5xDrive35d.  They have been on sale since January of this year.”x5_xDrive_35d

.

BUICK:

No Buick diesels for 2010

CADILLAC:

No Cadillac Diesels

CHEVROLET:

No diesel engine cars for Chevy  this year.

CHRYSLER, JEEP, and DODGE:

No diesel cars this year for Chrysler brands.

FORD:

No diesel cars for Ford this year.

HONDA:

From Honda: “There are no current plans to bring a diesel-powered vehicle to the US in 2010.“

HYUNDAI:

No diesels listed for the 2010 model year.

KIA:

No diesels listed for the 2010 model year.

LEXUS:

No diesels listed for the 2010 model year.

LINCOLN:

No diesels listed for the 2010 model year.

MAZDA:

No diesels listed for the 2010 model year.

MERCEDES-BENZ:

Mercedes ML-350 courtesy Mercedes Benz
Mercedes ML-350 courtesy Mercedes Benz

This year Mercedes offers the ML350 sport utility, 18 mpg city 26 hwy, R350 crossover, 18 mpg city 24 hwy, and the GL350 sport utility, 17 mpg ciy 23 hwy.  According to a representitive in addition to the above  Mercedes USA  will be adding the E350 to the famous Blutec Diesel line later in the year.

Mercedes RL-350 courtesy Mercedes Benz
Mercedes RL-350 courtesy Mercedes Benz
Mercedes GL-350 courtesy Mercedes Benz
Mercedes GL-350 courtesy Mercedes Benz

MERCURY:

No diesels listed for the 2010 model year.

MITSUBISHI:

No diesels listed for the 2010 model year.

NISSAN:

No diesels listed for the 2010 model year.

PONTIAC:

The Pontiac brand has been discontinued.  Although the EPA lists a few Pontiacs for 2010, GM does not.

SAAB:

Saab, a division of GM,  formerly sold a diesel model. But it does not have one this year in the US, or in other countries.

SATURN:

No diesels listed for the 2010 model year.

SUBARU:

In other countries, Subura offers the Legacy, Impreza, Outback, and Forrester all equipped with their impressive diesel boxer motor.  Sadly, none of those are available here so equipped.

TOYOTA:

No diesels listed for the 2010 model year.

VOLKSWAGEN:

Volkswagon Jetta courtesy Volkswagon
Volkswagen Jetta courtesy Volkswagen
golf2
Volkswagen Golf TDI courtesy Volkswagen

Volkswagen will have the Jetta, 30 city 42 hwy , The Golf, 30 city 42 hwy, and the  Touareg SUV 18 city, 26 hwy.  These vehicle will take a maximum of B5 biodiesel.  To learn more, visit Volkswagen’s Clean Diesel Site

Volkswagon Touareg courtesy Volkswagon
Volkswagen Touareg courtesy Volkswagen

VOLVO:

Although there was talk of a 2010 diesel SUV from Volvo, it has failed to materialize.

News that has nothing to do with Election 2008


Photo courtesy of ecupaintingguild at Flickr.com.

With all the news coverage focused on the election, there are a lot of important and/or awesome things that have escaped attention. Here’s a quick overview of environmental news that’s worth following:

First off, it’s common to get a craving for pumpkin pie around this time every year. But it would take hundreds of people to eat a pie made from this enormous 1,900 lb pumpkin. This behemoth is expected to set a new record for giant pumpkins (a record that has grown bigger every year in recent memory). Maybe this is the monster that Charlie Brown’s been waiting for.

I’m sure that pumpkin wasn’t grown naturally, but no one tried to stick an organic label on it at the store. On the other hand, some businesses have been caught making false environmental claims to sell their products. It can be challenging to tell greenwashed products apart from their legitimate green competitors, but one way to make informed choices is to research the companies involved. Many large companies now publish yearly ‘Corporate Sustainability Reports’ that describe their environmental track record. Corporations are also assigning a dedicated board member to oversee environmental performance. Many of the pro-environment changes that companies are adopting also contribute to the bottom line, and make great economic sense while money is in short supply.

On a related note, the credit crunch is slowing down plans to build new wind farms. Even though wind power accounted for about a third of all new power capacity built last year, the credit climate is making it really hard to line up investors. Wind energy is also running into some problems of scale. Windy days in Washington state are causing salmon deaths in a weird series of unintended consequences. As the wind picks up, wind turbines generate more and more electricity. The excess electricity floods the transmission lines, and automatic controls kick in to shutdown other sources of power. In some cases, this causes hydroelectric dams to idle their turbines and dump water over spillways. If only there was an efficient interstate transmission system, or a better way to store electricity, this whole chain of events could be avoided.

But what if we lived in a world without any need for a power grid? Bloom Technologies is trying to create a lower pollution future based on efficiencies of micro-scale. With small fuel cells, the company hopes to eliminate power loss from transmission lines and bring electricity to the third world. As a bonus, they are designing fuel cells that produce hydrogen as a byproduct – that waste gas could be used to warm homes and fuel vehicles.

Whether cars burn hydrogen or gasoline, tailpipe emissions are pretty much inevitable. This waste product has something that is surprisingly useful though – untapped energy in the form of heat. Researchers are developing new thermoelectric systems that can harvest electricity from tailpipe emissions. If they can keep cost and weight to a minimum, these devices will likely be incorporated into a wide range of hybrid vehicles to boost mileage. The energy recovery isn’t 100 percent, but it can really add up to a serious boost in efficiency:

GM researcher Jihui Yang said a metal-plated device that surrounds an exhaust pipe could increase fuel economy in a Chevrolet Suburban by about 5 percent, a 1-mile-per-gallon improvement that would be even greater in a smaller vehicle.


Photo courtesy of fensterbme at Flickr.com.

The best and latest green news


Photo courtesy of
sterkworks at Flickr.com.

Here at the Practical Environmentalist, we’re green news junkies. We keep an eagle eye out for the latest science, social, and environmental developments and try to sum up the big picture here. This week, a lot of exciting things are going on.

Not everyone who wants to eat local food has time to garden. That’s why a new breed of entrepreneurs are ready to help you out by managing your garden. They’re like executive chefs, but more hardcore.

An unusual new power plant is going up in Indiana. With an output of only 1.6 megawatts, the first phase of this electrical turbine isn’t going to power the entire eastern seaboard, but it is one of several new power plants that generate power using methane from garbage.
That’s equivalent to:

— Removal of emissions equivalent to over 22,000 cars per year, or
— Planting about 27,000 acres of forest annually, or
— Creating enough energy to power more than 2,000 homes per year

Computers contain some pretty toxic chemicals, and e-waste is a major problem we’ve blogged about before. Many companies are working from the other side of the issue and trying to produce greener computer components.

Climate change and invasive species threaten to destroy some of the most beautiful places on Earth. Here’s a list of endangered places to visit before they’re gone. If you do have the means to visit these places, please consider donating to local conservation groups.

Due to high oil prices, reduced gas consumption is resulting in shortfalls in the Federal Highway Fund at the same time that Congress is focused on rising road maintenance costs. What does that mean?

Well, for starters, we can expect more toll roads. And here’s a cruel irony: the increased use of mass transit may cause a cut in funding for mass transit.

Eco News Roundup: 5 Quick Environmental News Stories


Photo courtesy of
wallyg at Flickr.com.

Here are a few quick stories that you might have missed last week:

First off, many different newspapers, tv shows, and blogs have discussed how high gas prices are discouraging people from driving their cars. Well, another factor is at work in many big cities – high parking fees are also encouraging people to conserve gasoline. For both of those reasons, we’re seeing record levels of use for public transport, carpool lanes, and bicycles.

Also, the weak economy is making it difficult for many families to afford organic food. If the high price of groceries is keeping you from enjoying organic produce, the article includes a guide to choosing which foods are most important to buy organic.

Across the nation, electric prices are on the rise. In Texas and Pennsylvania, deregulation of the electric markets may be partly to blame for high energy prices.

Speaking of Texas, the Lone Star State has taken a big step to develop more wind energy. This is a big development, because Texas is a huge electric market and the Texas Interconnection is one of only 3 electrical regions in the US.

Ford, GM, and Chrysler are all seriously re-thinking their offerings for next year. For car designers, low-Carbon is “in”.

Smaller, high mileage economy cars are back!


Photo courtesy of jolengs at Flickr.com.

American car manufacturers love pickups and SUVs. These high end vehicles have been lavished with elaborate advertising, intensive research, and promotional test driving campaigns because of high profit margins. As a result of this infatuation, gas guzzlers account for an unhealthy percentage of sales from the Big Three.

Profits at Detroit’s Big Three will shrink by $7 billion to $11 billion. Reductions in vehicle sales, especially SUVs, will lead to an industry-wide decline in pretax profits of $11.2 billion to $17.6 billion. Detroit’s Big Three will absorb $7 billion to $11 billion in total reductions because of their dependence on SUV and pickup sales.

Detroit’s Big Three will absorb nearly 75 percent of the decline in total sales volume. Without deeper discounts, sales volumes in the North American car and light truck market will shrink between 9 and 14 percent, or 1.9 to 3.0 million vehicles, because of the overall effect of higher oil prices on the economy. Detroit’s Big Three automakers absorb nearly 75 percent of the sales decreases.

The chickens are coming home to roost. For years, American car manufacturers have lobbied for freedom to produce cars that are less and less fuel efficient. While protesting legislation to raise the CAFE standards, Senator Bennett summed up the position nicely:

…the manufacturer deals directly with the customer in producing the kinds of automobiles people want to buy. And if people say: I really don’t want to buy that automobile, if CAFE standards disappear, the manufacturer can say: OK, if you don’t want to buy it, we won’t produce it. Whereas, now there is pressure; we have to produce it in order to meet the CAFE average, whether people want to buy it or not.

Unfortunately for American autoworkers, car manufacturers were slow to recognize that consumer tastes are shifting. With oil headed over $120 a barrel, sales of most American made cars have fallen sharply, but, believe it or not, economy cars are selling pretty well. Even “economy” cars that would barely meet foreign standards are selling well in the US:

Focus sales are up 23 percent through March compared with the first quarter of last year. The redesigned car is taking 7.6 percent of the U.S. small car market.


Photo courtesy of Ochileer at Flickr.com.

Anyone out there in the market for a new car?

What kind of car are you considering, and why? Leave us a comment!

Israeli Electric cars

Photo courtesy of uzvards at Flickr.com.

Israel imports about 99 percent of its oil supplies. This fuel situation makes Israelis particularly sensitive to blockade, and the country’s economy is getting hammered by rising oil prices. Perhaps that’s why electric cars are taking off in Tel Aviv.

Thanks in part to a tax system that heavily favors electric vehicles, companies are designing and testing all-electric Israeli cars, and imports of hybrid vehicles are way up! If a combination of new technology and tax incentives works in Israel, perhaps the future will bring similar developments stateside. Wouldn’t it be ironic if a company in the Middle East put Big Oil out of business?

Photo courtesy of Project Better Place and Photographer Israel Hadari at Flickr.com.

Coal Liquefication. What it means for your gas tank and the environment


Photo courtesy of efo at Flickr.com.

Coal Liquefication is a controversial technology that turns coal into a high carbon liquid. The resulting fuel can be substituted for gasoline in cars, trains, and planes. It’s controversial because the process that produces liquefied coal is energy intensive and it releases a lot of carbon dioxide during production and again when it’s burned. All told, a gallon of liquified coal has about twice the carbon footprint of a gallon of gas.

To put it another way, a Prius burning liquified coal will release as much carbon as a Hummer burning regular gasoline. Many environmental groups oppose Coal Liquification. If liquid coal replaced gasoline at the pump, the American auto fleet would have to become twice as fuel efficient just to maintain current CO2 emissions. Increased coal use could also accelerate environmental damage from coal mining.

Yet, there are reasons why Coal to Liquid (CTL) conversion is getting a lot of attention. As the price of oil hovers around $100 a barrel, there’s intense pressure to develop alternative energy sources. Coal mining employs a lot of people (~80,000 in the United States) and creating an industry that converts coal to fuel could create a lot of new jobs at a time when the US economy is sluggish.

Another reason why CTL is getting renewed attention – liquefied coal is a domestic energy source. Every gallon of liquid coal would replace a gallon of gasoline – and you may have noticed that we’re having trouble with several oil producing countries. There are balance-of-trade concerns that reinforce energy independence – lately our trade deficit has been one factor driving down the value of the US Dollar. The buying power of the petrodollar has experienced a sustained decline since 2003.

At the beginning of 2003, one euro bought one US dollar. Eighteen months ago, it bought $1.20. Now it is pushing $1.50, and there is no reason to think that it will stop there.

Despite climate concerns and technological hurdles, the US Air Force is already flying some planes using liquefied coal. And the technology is supported by some surprising faces:

Illinois basin coal has more untapped energy potential than the oil reserves of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait combined. Senator Obama believes it is crucial that we invest in technologies to use these resources to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.


Photo courtesy of rollerboogie at Flickr.com.

An overview of 2008 diesel cars, and what’s coming after that

Don’t miss our updated overview of 2009 diesel cars!

And don’t miss our updated 2010 diesel cars overview!

As diesel technology gets greener and greener automakers are starting to take notice. In Europe many cars are offered with a diesel power plant as an option, while here in the US we are still using diesel motors primarily in pickups, buses and trucks. As fuel prices rise and environmental concerns grow we are finally starting to see some of the manufacturers take notice.

The following is the rundown of the passenger cars that will be available in the USA in the 2008 model year. A re-occurring theme with many of the manufacturers I contacted seemed to be that while they do plan to offer at least one diesel, it won’t be until later in the year.



Don’t miss our previous post, an introduction to biodiesel.

bluetec

Mercedes Benz

The 2008 E320 BLUETEC Sedan

MSRP $52,675

Acceleration1 0 – 60 in 6.6 seconds.

Fuel economy

EPA estimate 23 mpg

Highway estimate 32 mpg

It seems like Mercedes Benz has always been into Diesels. The fabled W123 chassis diesels, such as the 300D and 300TD regularly break the million mile mark with surprisingly little maintenance. So it’s no surprise the E320 tops most of the reviewer’s lists for diesel Sedans sold in the US. Mercedes claims to be the only luxury sedan sold in the US for 2008 that is diesel equipped; and that’s true for the moment as BWM has not announced their entry into the diesel arena for the year. Since they are the only company that could provide me with detail, we’re going to cover them first.

The E320 uses Mercedes innovative Bluetec system for reducing NO2 emissions and soot which is normally the downside to diesels emissions-wise. Mercedes initially entered into an agreement with BMW, VW and Audi to share the technology in order to increase the diesel passenger car market in the US; BMW, VW, And Audi however have announced they will no longer be working with Mercedes on bluetec.

Mercedes states that their diesel cars are NOT legal for sale in California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, or Vermont. A limited number will be available for lease in California.

The 2008 E320 BLUETEC does not meet the emissions requirements of California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, or Vermont and is not available in these states.

In California, a limited number of Model Year 2007 E320 BLUETEC vehicles are available for a limited duration and mileage lease only. No purchase option available. Available only to qualified customers through Mercedes-Benz Financial at participating dealers. Not everyone will qualify. Subject to credit approval and inventory availability. See your authorized Mercedes-Benz dealer for complete details on this offer.

Unfortunately for those looking to run biodiesel you may also have to look elsewhere. The new Mercedes engines are only warrantied to run a maximum of B5 biodiesel. Many people have run higher without problems, but it’s a very expensive car to take a chance with.

Audi

An Audi representative stated that they did not have plans for a diesel equipped auto for the 2008 model year. They did say that there would be an offering in 2009, at least in the Q7 SUV.

BMW

Possibly Several Models

It’s hard to say why car companies do what they do. BMW has maintained that it will be releasing a diesel sedan in the US in 2008; but as of this date they have not so much as specified which vehicles will be available with this option. In Europe every BMW vehicle is available with a diesel motor as an option but these vehicles have not been available in the US. When I contacted BWM their representative stated that they wanted to make sure that any diesel they released would pass emissions standards for all 50 states, and that most likely the 3 and the 5 series BWM’s would be the ones offered with the diesel power plant. They stated that they hoped to have the cars available before mid-year.

The BMW diesels in Europe feature a catalytic converter and particle filter in order to reduce the NO2 emissions and soot. Unfortunately as BMW has not announced their 2008 diesel US lineup there is very little data on what engine (They make a 4, 6, and an 8 cylinder diesel). Therefore no emissions or mileage info.

Cadillac

While Cadillac does not have a diesel powered offering for 2008, they do have one planned for the 2009 CTS.

Chevrolet, Pontiac, Buick.

I spoke with a representative from GM who stated that diesel are mostly used in pickup trucks. She stated that they had no cars in the 2008 lineup that would be diesel equipped. I grew up in a GM household where buying a foreign car, or even a ford, was a right up there with treason and using beans in chili (this was Texas, afterall). I had the opportunity to own one of the diesel equipped autos that GM produced back in the 80’s and I’ve watched over the years GM shoot themselves in the foot by throwing out the baby with the proverbial bathwater.

GM had in 1985 a full sized luxury car (Pontiac,Olds, Buick, and Cadillac) that got anywhere between 26 and 30 miles per gallon out of a diesel v8 motor. These motors had problems, primarily with seals and leaking, but instead of fixing and improving on them they stopped production after a few years. It’s not enough to innovate, you have to follow through and capitalize on your innovations. And once you try something and fail you can’t just throw your hands up and let your competitors pick up the ball and run with it.

Chrysler

While they offer diesel options in several of their trucks and SUV’s, they have no diesel cars in the 2008 lineup.

Ford, Lincoln and Mercury

Not offering any diesel powered vehicles, other than trucks, in 2008. Sadly, Ford offered a diesel powered escort back in the 80’s that got a whopping 52 MPG! One does not have to look far to see why our auto industry is in trouble today.

Honda

A Honda representative stated that they had no information available at this time on a diesel powered Honda car for the US market. But we’ve read elsewhere and even seen a photo of an Accord that is being tested with new clean diesel technology here. 62 miles per gallon, and in the United States by 2010? We’ll see!

Toyota

While there has been a lot of speculation about a Toyota diesel car for 2008, there are none listed for their 2008 lineup.

Nissan

No Nissan diesel cars available for the 2008 model year.

Volkswagen

Volkswagen stated that they plan to offer a diesel version of the Jetta, the Jetta Wagon, and the Toureg some time in mid 2008. They stated that no specifications have been released at this time. Volkswagen until recently offered a diesel, and over the years they had diesel Rabbits, Jettas, Microbuses, and the new Beettle. They proudly proclaim their diesel heritage on their website.

Volvo

I spoke to a Volvo representative that stated that Volvo has no plans to offer a diesel automobile outside of Europe at this time.

So, there you have it. Of all the car manufacturers out there only Mercedes has any solid data on a diesel automobile for release in the United States for 2008. Many of these same manufacturers are offering full diesel lineups in Europe but because of tighter emissions standards here in the states we can’t get most of these cars imported.