Posted By RichC on September 25, 2006
We all know that diesel cars are among the stingiest on fuel, but then their has always been that emissions hurdle … until now. Honda has one upped their diesel leading European counterparts with a new fuel efficient California ready four cylinder car. It will be the first to meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency strict California diesel exhaust rules said Honda’s President Takeo Fukui in Japan. This will be the first vehicle to meet these rules and will beat the equivalent gasoline model by 30 percent in efficiency.
Unfortunately the wheels of progress move slowly as the car is not planned for introduction until the 2009 model year, the same year Honda intends to bring over a fuel cell powered sports car, according to Bloomberg.
Currently there are only a handful of diesel passenger cars in the US, primarily made by Volkswagen and Mercedes, but with fuel prices taking a bigger bite out of consumers wallets many are looking at options. Hybrid leadership belongs to Toyota, followed by Honda and seems to be the best known option. Alternative domestic replacements for oil is hoped will add supply to the current petroleum monopoly over how we fuel our current and future vehicles, but is requiring government subsidies in order to compete as it is ramped up.
Conservation options are the individuals best choice in getting more for their dollar in either driving less or driving smarter. According to market forecaster J.D. Power & Associates, they estimate that diesels will account for 9 percent of U.S. auto sales by 2010 and continue to rise as US consumers recognize what Europeans have already found out … diesel are no longer the noisy and smelly cars they were in years past, especially with new ULSD and biodiesel available.
According to the Bloomberg article cited above, Volkswagen and DaimlerChrysler plan to use a system that squirts ammonia on diesel fumes as they pass through a filtering chamber, a system that the U.S. EPA and California regulators haven’t yet approved. Honda on the other hand, said its diesel engine differs from rivals’ by using a new nitrogen oxide catalytic converter to generate and store ammonia on-board, rather than adding it separately as the Volkswagen and DaimlerChrysler systems require. Particulate matter or soot produced by diesel engines contributes to lung disease, aggravates asthma and other breathing problems and creates smog, according to the EPA.
The new U.S. regulations, which start in 2007, require vehicles that weigh less than 6,000 pounds to emit no more than 0.07 grams of nitrogen oxide per mile on average. This new standard is proving a major challenge for fuel efficient diesel cars of the past … standards to which few diesel cars have been able to meet.
EDIT: A friend fowarded a good article on the announcement here. Thanks Buck.