Saturday

Diesel Cars Making Inroads In US

Diesel-powered automobiles account for an average of more than half of car sales in the European EU; it is their go-to choice for various reasons. Diesels in the UK for example, allow motorist a sizable tax break over their gasoline (petrol)-powered alternatives. The USA on the other hand, while having some diesel-engined autos, tend to favor hybrids as a more environmentally friendly and economical alternative. It seems that this pattern may be switching, though; in Europe, diesel sales are flattening and hybrids are picking up. In the USA, the usual diesel suspects - Mercedes and VW - have been joined by others such as Audi and Chevrolet.


The diesel engine is also an internal combustion engine, but uses compression to ignite the fuel rather than the spark used in gasoline engines. It was invented by Rudolf Diesel back in the late 1800's, and has been used for various industrial applications ever since.

Diesel motors in cars have several advantages over gasoline; the diesel is more efficient, and does not require a high-voltage ignition system. Diesel fuel is a less refined fuel, and does not explode when exposed to an ignitions source the way gasoline vapor will. Diesel engines generally last notably longer than gas engines due to the nature of their operation and construction. 

On the other hand, help is needed when using diesels in very cold weather - diesel fuel itself can "thicken" (gel) at low temperatures and the engines themselves may need an internal heating system (glowplug) to allow them to start properly in extreme conditions.

One of the reasons for the flattening of diesel sales in Europe is a tightening of emission regulations, requiring different types of fuel injection and so on. While diesel motors emit less Carbon Dioxide (CO2) than gasoline engines (as well as being more efficient), diesels can emit particulates and Nitrogen Oxides; new regulations are aimed at curtailing these byproducts - and add to the cost of the engine and the fuel.

While the US already has high emission standards for diesel engines, it's likely we will follow suit over time, and diesel may end up being priced out after an initial boom period, due to increased regulations.

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