Why I don’t think diesel will be ‘Hobsons choice’ in Europe for much longer!

Posted: 25th June, 2011 in Cars

Some more evidence to support my outrageous claim that diesel cars days are numbered. The comedic Richard Porter of www.sniffpetrol.com produced this accurate assessment of Fiats recent achievements.

A cheap to manufacture petrol engine, offering significant reduction in harmful emissions, a cheaper fuel than diesel and the same sort of fuel economy! Yes why would anyone bother with diesel in this case?

BMW are such a big force in the auto industry, they can help swing government rules on emissions legislation. If they can’t achieve the goals set out by EU law, chances are the goals must be changed.

Alas, not just the Italiens have been working on diesel beaters.  The Germans at BMW have been doing what all good German engineers should do – lots of research and development. They have been busy downsizing their petrol engines whilst ensuring that vehicle performance does not suffer. Apparently, these will be found in all of their forthcoming models. So what does that mean?

By downsizing an engine, as the name suggests the engine gets smaller. Most people know that generally the bigger the engine, the bigger the fuel bill. Driving along a flat motorway at 70 mph will only require about 45hp. Accelerating the 1.5 ton car to that speed in an acceptable time will require 130 hp, this is the reason we require such big engines in our cars. For those times when we need to accelerate to a chosen speed.

It is a lesser known fact that when an engine is at full load, (delivering as much power as possible) during wide open throttle (foot flat to the floor) it is actually most efficient. So a downsized engine is operating closer to full load more of the time, giving increased efficiency.

In order for a car to be economical they downsize. In order to retain acceptable performance it is necessary to turbo charge. The turbo forces air into the engine increasing its effective volume and delivering the same performance of a much larger engine that is not being turbo charged.

BMWs new range uses a twin turbo charged 1.6 engines delivering the same kind of performance as a 2 litre with the same kind of fuel economy as a similarly specified diesel.:

BMW 116i: Four-cylinder in-line petrol engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology package, consisting of twin-scroll turbocharger, High Precision Injection, VALVETRONIC and Double-VANOS variable valve control,
capacity: 1598 cc, output: 100 kW/136 PS at 4400 rpm,
maximum torque: 220 Nm at 1350-4300 rpm,
acceleration (0-100 km/h): 8.5 seconds,
maximum speed: 210 km/h (131 mph),
combined-cycle fuel consumption: 5.5-5.7 l/100km (50mpg)

The twin air, mentioned at the start of this article is an extreme example, it is an inline 2 cylinder twin turbocharged engine:

capacity: 875cc, ouput: 62.6kW/85.2PS at 5500rpm,
maximum torque: 145Nm at 1900 rpm,
acceleration (0-100 km/h): 11.0 seconds,
maximum speed: 173 km/h (108 mph),
combined-cycle fuel consumption: 5.5-5.7 l/100km (50mpg)

Finally the local town of Colchester announces that harmful NOx emissions are exceeding european recommended guidlines, this would not be an issue if everyone entered the town using a petrol powered vehicle.

The Colchester Gazette reports: “The air in three busy Colchester town centre streets may be seriously polluted, tests suggest.  The High Street, Head Street and Queen Street have all been shown to have nitrogen dioxide levels higher than target levels set by the European Union.”

It’s stories like this, that convince me that really there is no viable future for diesel to be the prominent fuel to power cars going forward into the future.

  1. chainey says:

    I hope you’re right. I loathe diesel cars. I’m not a greenie at all, I just think we’ve taken a huge leap backwards – it’s as if we put lead back in petrol and ripped all the catalytic converters out of cars. I’m so sick of getting behind one of those stinking diesel smoke-pots and scrambling to change the vents to recirculate – but too late, the car is full of those fumes and they coat everything. Unfortunately the demister doesn’t allow recirc.

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