January 31, 2006
Diesel Electric Hybrid Prototype Boasts High Fuel Efficiency

A compact diesel hybrid could get nearly 70 miles per gallon in combined city/highway driving.

PSA Peugeot Citroen unveiled Tuesday two prototype cars featuring its new diesel-electric hybrid powertrain, the Peugeot 307 and the Citroen C4 Hybride HDi.


The cars achieve 25 percent better fuel economy than a comparable gasoline-eletric hybrid - 3.4 liters of diesel fuel per 100 km (roughly 69 mpg combined city/highway).

The problem is that it costs too much.

"Our objective is to reduce the cost by a factor 2.5 to 3 so that the difference a consumer has to pay for a diesel hybrid is the same as that between a petrol and a diesel car -- because the gain in fuel economies and emission reduction is the same," CEO Jean-Martin Folz told reporters.

The cost difference between the demonstration vehicles and a conventional diesel model is about $9,700, or about 8,000 euros at current exchange rates, now and has to be cut to $1,800 to $2,400 (1,500 to 2,000 euros).

Cost is the simple reason why more hybrid models aren't for sale already. A segment of the market will pay for a Prius as a lifestyle choice. But most people aren't going to make as big of a sacrifice for fuel efficiency. The payback takes too many miles.

The previous article says Ford, Toyota, and DaimlerChrysler are all pursuing diesel hybrid development for larger cars.

Half the cars sold in Europe now come with diesel engines.

High-tech diesel engines (HDi) have grown steadily more popular in Europe since the late 1990s. One out of every two passenger cars bought is now equipped with a diesel engine, compared with one out of four in 1998. In some countries, including France, the percentage of diesel cars reached 70% in 2005. This ongoing growth shows that there is strong consumer demand for vehicles that are both affordable and offer low fuel consumption without compromising driving comfort.

By contrast, emissions regulations have kept most diesel car models out of California and New England as well as New England states have increasingly patterned their emissions regulations after California. Though newer diesel technology (and if memory serves, changes in diesel fuel formulations) might allow diesels to meet emissions regulations in some of the tougher US states.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2006 January 31 10:10 PM  Energy Transportation

mariana said at January 31, 2006 10:57 PM:

I swear my brother told me awhile back that there's a diesel Volvo you can buy in the US that gets 60 miles/gallon.

PacRim Jim said at February 1, 2006 1:04 AM:

In case you are unaware of the long-term effects of exposure to diesel exhaust, diesel engines generate much finer particles than do gasoline engines, so these particles go deeper into the lungs, where they irritate and are much more likely to cause damage that can lead to emphysema and pulmonary carcinoma. Let me frame it more bluntly: Better mileage or better lungs?

rhodan said at February 1, 2006 1:06 AM:

Diesel cars are popular in Europe (especially in France) because diesel fuel is less expensive than gas due to taxes differences (fuel is 20 % cheaper than gas, and the difference has been higher in the past).

Nevertheless, a diesel engine is more efficient than a gas engine and the market share of diesel has boosted improvements (High Pressure Direct Injection, catalytic filters, ...).

Moreover it is very easy to burn non-oil products in diesel engines (biodiesel, sunflower oil, ...).

David Tribe said at February 1, 2006 2:51 AM:

Does seem as if clean air regulations are not very Greenhouse effect friendly. What with interfering with fuel economy and reduction of carbon dioxide emission, plus cutting particulates (that cause global cooling) they go counter to environmental good intentions.

ACID said at February 1, 2006 6:20 AM:

EU is now anticipating and enforcing EURO 5 standard for vehicle emissions. It demands that the particulate be only 20% of current Euro 4 standard, if I rememeber correctly. Etc. etc. The negative side is that current euro 4 cars will be "obsolete", commercially speaking, within months and all of them are no more than 3-4 years old.
The improvements in diesel engines and their emissions has been fantastic, almost remotely comparable to that of computer hardware. But the more compact and ancient European cities are suffocating in a thin haze of fine particulate that is monitored very closely.

Jim said at February 1, 2006 8:22 AM:

my understanding of the diesel problem is two-fold - the incomplete combustion (leading to aforementioned problems) and sulfur. a catalytic converter and new engine technology can eliminate the first, but only if the fuel is fixed to eliminate the sulfur (otherwise the sulfur residue renders the converter useless in a short time). eu has clean diesel fuel. u.s. doesn't yet, but regulations are in order to make refineries fix that. simulataneously the cat's of the world have been moving to cleaner engine technology to take advantage of cleaner fuel.

i don't think that eu diesels have the problems that pacrim Jim mentioned.

this is heresay from a friend that works on diesels, not independently confirmed.

Philip Sargent said at February 1, 2006 9:34 AM:

That's my understanding too (Jim's comment above).
There is an even cleaner variety of diesel sold widely in the UK called "City Diesel", whcih goes beyond the mandatory requirements (EN 590) for automotive diesel fuel :

"The main benefit of city diesel is that its combustion reduces particulate emissions by 34 - 84% depending on engine type and type of particulate measured." URL: Manchester Met.University

and experimental test results: URL Kwikpower.

PacRim Jim said at February 1, 2006 10:29 AM:

See http://www.californialung.org/spotlight/diesel_health.html
"Diesel exhaust is a major source of particle pollution in California. Ninety-four percent of diesel emissions are estimated to be fine particles, less than 2.5 microns in diameter, which can bypass respiratory defense mechanisms and lodge deep in the lungs. Numerous studies have found that fine particles impair lung function, aggravate respiratory illnesses such as asthma, bronchitis and emphysema, and are associated with premature deaths. Dozens of studies link airborne fine particle concentrations to increased hospital admissions for respiratory diseases, chronic obstructive lung disease, pneumonia and heart disease."

daniel charles said at February 1, 2006 2:12 PM:

If I read correctly the above comments, I've to conclude that US hearts & lungs are more fragile that EU's, since there doesn't seem to be an increase in respiratory diseases in France (for example) where 70% of cars are diesel. Maybe that's because we drink wine and olive oil, things which were deemed nefarious in the past in the US? It's always surrealistic to read about California's concern for clean air and see the number of gas-guzzling SUVs (and Humvees) in LA or San Francisco -it's about as surrealistic as being lectured on environment by Americans, the biggest polluters on the planet.
I'd be interested to know what sort of car PacRim Jim drives, an what is its efficiency...
Let's be serious: a turbo diesel can have up to 43% efficiency, way above a petrol engine. Diesel works, provided you get clean, sulfur-free fuel. Today the price advantage between petrol and fuel is much less (about 15%) than it was in the past, and stringently enforced speed limitations make the exciting response of a petrol engine less interesting. My mid-size turbo-diesel car uses 5.2litres for 100 km. I can't see how it could pollute more that a SUV petrol engine using 150% more.

Randall Parker said at February 1, 2006 5:12 PM:

Daniel Charles,

Several points:

1) Many factors contribute to differences in national respiratory disease rate including diet, average genetic susceptibility differences, population densities, fuel costs, emissions regulations, local climate and geography (e.g. mountains can bottle in pollution), incidence of smoking, and other causes. Also, a place as large as the US has larger regional differences in disease incidence.

2) Diesel trucks operate under weaker regulations in the US due to the power of the truckers lobby and businesses that operate trucks.

3) The US has considerable regional variation in regulation strictness.

4) Gasoline versus diesel price differences are partly a product of taxes and partly a product of regulations For example, the US has all sorts of local and regional variations in requirements for special gasoline formulations to reduce pollution. We have variations in pricing as a result. We even have variations by season. Therefore the price difference in your market is going to be different than in other markets. I can't even generalize about the US when it comes to the relative prices of gasoline and diesel. Again, it is a mistake to treat the US as a whole. The pollution and fuel regulations differ regionally even below the state level.

5) Diesels pose special problems with regard to pollution. The one that has kept diesels off of California roads has not been particulates if memory serves. The problem is oxides of nitrogen. The nitrogen is in the atmosphere and can't be removed by fuel changes. The higher compression at which diesel engines fire causes more chemical reactions between nitrogen and oxygen. The oxides of nitrogen contribute to photochemical smog. That is less of a problem in areas with favorable prevailing winds and geography. Los Angeles does not have those favorable conditions.

As for being lectured on the environment by Americans: You should listen to the experience of knowledgeable Californians in particular. The first real pollution controls on cars started in California in the 1960s. California was the first to ban lead, 30 or more years before many European countries. California ushered in catalytic converters and many other changes including the first demands that auto makers provide serial data (OBD and OBD II) to make vehicle emissions equipment testing and repairs more consistently reliable.

Marvin said at February 2, 2006 7:04 AM:

Comparing any European country with California in terms of public health issues displays a lack of understanding. Ethnically, there is no country in Europe that compares with the ethnic makeup of California. Public health has a great deal to do with ethnicity, as well as environmental factors.

Geographically, there are very few regions in Europe that compare with the greater Los Angeles basin, in terms of geographic and meteorologic confinement of pollutants, combined with the massive level of vehicular traffic and other chemical exhaust sources.

By the way, has anyone read the article in Science that studies net energy yield in ethanol production comparing ethanol from maize with ethanol from cellulose? http://rael.berkeley.edu/EBAMM/

Kurt said at February 2, 2006 4:02 PM:

There is a reason why diesel cars do not meet the emission standards in the U.S.

I visited Germany for 3 weeks in 2000. While there, I found that I have an allergy to diesel emissions. I noticed it right from the beginning taking the (diesel) taxi in from the airport. Considering that I had arrived from Kuoshiung, in Taiwan, where the considerable air pollution did NOT bother me in the least, this is rather significant.

As soon as I returned to Taiwan, I was fine. Since I was not exposed to any pollens or anything like that (this was in late October and early November), I do not think my allergy could have come from anything else.

Also, despite their reputation for green-oriented luddism, I don't think the Europeans really care about air and water pollution. Europe did not switch to unleaded gasoline until the mid 90's and their air is generally not as clean as I had expected.

I really do not like being around diesel vehicles. If they can make diesel cars that are as clean as the typical car in the U.S. then I have no problem with them. But I do not think that we should lower our emission standards to accomodate diesel vehicles.

FYI, I think both global warming and peak oil are nothing but hot air. However, I do believe in the reduction of REAL pollution, such as the sulfides, nitrides, and carbon monoxide emitted by transportation.

Bob Badour said at February 3, 2006 7:42 AM:


While you might very well be allergic to diesel particles, there are plenty of allergens around in late autumn and winter. Mostly molds and their spores. I get hit particularly hard when snow melts, but I also have an allergic period in the autumn after the leaves fall and before the snow.


Alan Njeru said at February 3, 2006 9:40 AM:

It seems that many people aren't awarre that Peugeot and DaimlerChrysler have new particulate exhaust system filters and Mercedes has a new system that injects UREA into the system facilitating compelete combustion, lower particulte matter and zero NOx.

Moreover, diesel can be sourced from two- three non fossil fuel items namely free fatty acids and biomass derived Fischer tropsch synthesis or methanol to gasoline derived fuels. These are carbon neutral. So they don't add carbon dixide into the system and with Urea injection NOx are eliminated. That sounds like zero emmision. Of course this won't happen in a fortnight, but if people shed anti diesel mentality that they developed when GM introduces its disastrous diesels in the 70s, it's possible to attain very clean sulphur free carbon neutral fuels.

alannjeru said at February 3, 2006 9:46 AM:

NAIAS 2006 Detroit: DaimlerChrysler to Feature Technology for the Cleanest Diesel in the World
BLUETEC – DaimlerChrysler pioneers a group-wide initiative for diesel with potential for all 50 U.S. states
The Mercedes-Benz E 320 BLUETEC will be launched in fall 2006 in the U.S. as first BLUETEC passenger car
Dr. Dieter Zetsche: “We can offer BLUETEC in all our brands for the benefit of our customers.”
Detroit, Michigan, USA / Stuttgart, Germany, January 08, 2006
DaimlerChrysler will begin the New Year with a pioneering group-wide initiative for advanced clean diesel powertrains to be launched at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. The technology called BLUETEC will be capable of producing the cleanest diesel vehicles in the world.
The company will present vehicles featuring BLUETEC at the Mercedes-Benz and Chrysler Group stands, highlighting a bright future for diesel-powered automobiles around the world. BLUETEC offers diesel passenger cars the potential to meet the most stringent emissions regulations worldwide and be approved for sale in all 50 U.S. states. This will enable advanced diesel engines to develop their full potential for reducing fuel consumption and help to reduce emissions in the U.S. as well.
“BLUETEC is the new blueprint for the cleanest diesels in the world,” says Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of DaimlerChrysler and Head of the Mercedes Car Group. “And while BLUETEC was developed by Mercedes-Benz, it won’t be exclusive to Mercedes-Benz. Of course, we’ll share this technology with the Chrysler Group.”
The BLUETEC vehicles that DaimlerChrysler will be showcasing in Detroit – the Mercedes-Benz E 320 BLUETEC, the Vision Mercedes-Benz GL 320 BLUETEC, and the Concept Car Jeep® Grand Cherokee BLUETEC – are capable of being the most fuel-efficient and cleanest diesel passenger vehicles in their segments in the U.S. BLUETEC can only achieve its full effect in passenger cars when it is used with diesel fuel that has a sulfur content of less than 15 ppm. Such fuel will further reduce the emissions of diesel vehicles already on the market in the U.S. This low-sulfur diesel has already been introduced throughout Europe and is expected to become available in the U.S. in the fall of 2006. DaimlerChrysler's first BLUETEC passenger car will be the Mercedes-Benz E 320 BLUETEC, which will be launched in the U.S. next fall.
Mercedes-Benz trucks are already available with BLUETEC diesel technology as standard. Around 9,500 Mercedes-Benz trucks equipped with the innovative exhaust-gas technology were delivered to customers in 2005. This means that more than 98 percent of all truck customers have opted for vehicles that already fulfill the stringent Euro 5 emissions standard.
BLUETEC is a combination of technologies for passenger cars and light trucks to reduce all relevant emission components. The system for passenger cars includes an oxidizing catalytic converter and a diesel particulate filter, as well as innovative systems for reducing nitrogen oxide emissions. Whether a combination of Denox and a BLUETEC catalytic converter, or AdBlue injection with a BLUETEC catalytic converter is used will depend on the individual design concept of the vehicle. Regardless of which technical solution is used, BLUETEC makes diesel vehicles in every class the cleanest diesels in the world. BLUETEC diesel technology for Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicles combines highly efficient engines with an exhaust gas treatment system based on selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology. With SCR technology, nitrogen oxides are converted into harmless nitrogen and water vapor by adding ammonia as a reducing agent in a catalytic converter.
With BLUETEC, DaimlerChrysler greatly improves the potential of advanced diesel engines within the framework of its “Energy for the Future” initiative, which describes the company’s strategy for ensuring sustainable mobility in the future. An additional element of this initiative is DaimlerChrysler’s ongoing effort to further optimize gasoline engines, as well as the company’s commitment to improving the quality of conventional fuels and promoting the use of synthetic fuels. Further elements of the initiative include the development and introduction of hybrid drive systems and fuel cell technology.

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OriEri said at February 3, 2006 4:57 PM:

Randall is correct about why diesels cannot be sold in California. It is the NOx and NOT the fnie particulates. NO, NO3 in the presence of UV light catalytically forms ozone. This is the photochemical smog he refers to.

Alan, when you say "These are carbon neutral. So they don't add carbon dixide into the system " do you mean the net carbon dioxide produced by biofuels is less than that taken from the air by the biomass in the first place? That is correct, but is something of an oversimplification since it neglects the carbon dioxide released by the power consuming equipment used to cultivate the plants, ship them to a processing facility and then produce the oils that become biofuel. Maybe you can generate enough power with all the resulting biofuel to make this a net positive process, however I suspect there is not enough arable land in the world to supply all of the western world's energy needs.

asl said at February 7, 2006 2:51 AM:

Just because there isn't enough arable land to supply *all* of us with biofuels, doesn't mean that whatever there is shouldn't be used. I, for one, haven't seen the perfect solution for the world's energy/fuel needs and I think that too many partial solutions are being rejected with just this logic.

Greg said at February 7, 2006 2:06 PM:


I don't know about other kinds of biofuels, but in case of ethanol, today's technology allows to produce 38% more energy than used to cultivate plants, deliver them, etc.
Although it doesn't seem good enough to me, there's still much space for improvement. The technology is still in the cradle.

Allen A Conner said at February 8, 2006 6:30 PM:

the us consumes one-fourth of the world's energy production yet represents only five percent of the world's population. it is reasonable to conclude that if the american citizenry does not start a "marshall plan" for mass transit (powered by renewables)and go cold turkey from its addiction to petroleum then there is not going to be enough affordable energy to make the transition. 120 billion spent on the iraq war just for last year and what has been achieved?

Greg said at February 9, 2006 9:29 AM:


For mass transit systems to be widely accepted by the population, that population density should be above certain threshold (I don't remember the figure, but I can research). Otherwise, the nearest bus or rail stop would be too far away from one's house at average, i.e. one would still need a car to get there. And, once the citizen is in the car, it is tempting to go in it all the way to the destination point. Even if we fight that temptation, we'd need parking lots around mass transit stations. And the bigger these lots are, the more time we need to get to the bus stop itself. And we should allow several minutes due to inevitable inaccuracies in bus schedules. And what if the weather is bad? Or we go with small children?
Thus, in current situation, to make mass transit feasible, we MUST increase population density. The principal obstacle on this way is the residential zoning regulations that dictate the maximum population density in a specific area. No one will dare to fight them - the locals' uproar would certainly follow.

Randall Parker said at February 9, 2006 4:39 PM:


What limits housing density is mostly the desire of people to have more land between them and other people. People move out to further suburbs to buy bigger houses on bigger lots. That's not zoning regulations. That's people's desires in the marketplace.

jd said at August 16, 2006 1:32 PM:

I've really been hoping for a diesel-electric. I can see it being used not only for transportation, but as a back-up electrical source for homes for when the power goes out. Much the same way as diesel-electric locomotives can supply power to small towns.

John Hladun said at September 5, 2008 9:44 AM:

"biofuel. Maybe you can generate enough power with all the resulting biofuel to make this a net positive process, however I suspect there is not enough arable land in the world to supply all of the western world's energy needs."

Check out this site. This is how we will generate enough bio-fuel without using up the world's food oil supplies, or all or even a significant percentage of all the arable land.


David T said at May 21, 2009 6:43 PM:

Probably this thread is dead, but I wanted to comment on what John said. I do believe the oceans can be VERY helpful here. It is one place where we could potentially generate large biomass blooms to suck CO2 out of the atmosphere, with relatively little effort. It is not too far a stretch to go from there to also using the oceans as bio-solar power collectors to make bio fuels.

ROBERTO JOHNSON said at March 4, 2011 5:54 PM:

Wow i am very sorry to be commenting again in this dead thread but to tell you frankly that is really nice diesel hybrid cars are way better. I you really have a prius you will definitely get disappointed when you read this. Much way better mileage than any gas hybrid cars.
I also agree with alannjeru i heard lots of positive feedback regarding BLUETEC california catalytic converter

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