November 12, 2007
Diesels And Hybrids Seen As Net Money Savers

A study from the Rand Corporation finds that diesels pay off bigger than hybrids but both are net money savers.

Fuel taxes are excluded in the societal case, which is typical of benefit-cost analysis. And the costs are estimations that illustrate relative performance.

The results assume fuel prices of $2.50 per gallon for gasoline, $2.59 per gallon for diesel fuel, and $2.04 per gallon for E85 (including tax credit). The report also examines scenarios where fuel costs are much higher and much lower.

Among the key findings from the consumer perspective:

  • For all three vehicle types, the advanced diesel offers the highest savings over the life of the vehicle among the options considered. These savings increase with the size and fuel use of the vehicle: $460 for the car, $1,249 for the SUV and $2,289 for the large pick-up truck;
  • The hybrid option has smaller but still considerable savings for SUV applications ($1,066), moderate savings for pick-up applications ($505) but minimal savings over the life of the vehicle for car owners ($198);
  • The vehicles operating on E85 cost all three owners more over the vehicle life, with a greater net cost burden for larger vehicles and increased fuel consumption: (-$1,034 for cars, -$1,332 for SUVs, -$1,632 for pick-ups).

Of course they found E85 ethanol to be a loser. But what is getting the biggest push in Washington DC? Ethanol of course. Stupid is as stupid does? Or corrupt is as corrupt does?

Both the hybrid and diesel vehicles are more fuel efficient than their gasoline-powered counterparts: 25 to 40 percent better for hybrid and 20 to 30 percent for diesel, depending on the vehicle.

These numbers suggest that from the standpoint of what is in the best economic interest of car buyers people seem to be underusing both hybrid and diesel technologies. After all, a number of SUVs and regular cars are available in hybrid versions yet most of those models are sold in non-hybrid configurations. Why is that? I can think of two reasons. First off, lack of knowledge. People lack the economic chops to calculate the economic costs and benefits of hybrids and diesels. Another potential reason is more problematic. People might have such high discount rates (preferences for quicker gratification) that they aren't willing to spend more on a car now to gradually derive benefits of saved gas money over a period of years.

If you are expecting still higher prices then the benefits of diesels and hybrids are even more compelling. When you buy a car try to guess what is going to happen with the prices of gasoline and diesel fuel.

If we can believe the information coming out of Mercedes Benz about their forthcoming E320 hybrid diesel then combination of diesel and hybrid technologies will almost double highway fuel miles per gallon. Beyond that additional efficiency can be achieved with lighter weight materials, aerodynamic improvements, and smaller cars. But at current prices in the United States of about $3 per gallon the value proposition for diesel hybrid as compared to diesel is likely to be negative. I say that because the value proposition for just plain hybrid above is not that big and adding hybrid to a diesel vehicle won't boost its fuel efficiency by as large a percentage as it does for gasoline vehicles. Until gasoline prices go much higher we are not going to see many diesel hybrids on the road.

On the bright side, when oil production starts declining we already have existing technologies to embrace that will provide large boosts in fuel efficiency. Plus, battery technology advances look promising. General Motors and Volt might manage to produce a pluggable hybrid electric vehicle in a few years time.

On the not-so-bright side, I see multiple reasons why even with current technological capabilities such as diesels and hybrids we are going to be economically hard hit if we come off of the world oil production plateau in a downward direction. First off, a decline in oil production will obsolesce an absolutely huge amount of capital equipment. Chemical plants, oil refineries, farm tractors, and huge numbers of other pieces of equipment will have less oil and oil-derived products to use as inputs. Plus, it will necessitate big shifts in spending toward insulation, newer cars (more like the cars in Europe) which are more efficient, and other measures. These shifts in spending will happen while economies shrink. So I expect drops in living standards, at least during the early years of the post-peak oil period.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2007 November 12 09:52 PM  Energy Electric Cars

aa2 said at November 12, 2007 10:32 PM:

Randall I strongly agree with your post overall.. a thought just occured to me reading your last paragraph. Wouldn't a great deal of assets becoming obselete increase economic activity. For example if oil got so ridiculusly high that everyone had to run out and buy a volt, and then electric utilities had to mass build power plants... wouldn't gm and the utilities be hiring like mad and spending money like mad?

Every big infrastructure project I see the people are making big money compared to normal.

I was actually just about to buy GM's stock last week, then that 39 billion write off news came out.. Then GM's stock got hammered, I'm thinking of buying in tomorrow.. and just accepting it might go to zero.

Randall Parker said at November 12, 2007 11:24 PM:


Lots of money gets spent rebuilding after hurricanes and wars. But the money does not raise living standards above what living standards were. It takes years to get back to where people were before the loss.

Living standards rise due to asset accumulation. Destruction of assets lowers living standards.

This point about destruction of existing asset value is why, even though I think technological advances will ultimately prevent a total collapse, peak oil will lower living standards.

If peak oil comes 20 years from now then we will have much cheaper alternatives long before the peak and we'll do lots of slow migration and the destruction of existing value will be far lower. The sooner the peak comes the greater the value destruction.

aa2 said at November 13, 2007 3:31 AM:

I'm in the same camp I have no doubt we can overcome peak oil.. its just how painful the intervening years will be. And that depends on how fast technology becomes viable, how serious and intelligent national responses are in energy policy, how steep the decline side of peak oil is.. which in itself is related to oil technology and political issues.

Lately though I've been moving to believe that the economic damage could be fairly minor. Especially the way we measure economies. Like your example of rebuilding after a hurricane. That all counts as gdp.

I also think a huge part of our workforce is under-utilized. Sure they have jobs but its not very productive. For example I know car salesmen... they work 6 days a week yet do 80% of their sales on one day each week. Why not work that one day on the car lot, and spend the other 5 upgrading transformers for higher load for people charging cars at home.

Same with paper pushers.. if we had actual high value work to be done, a lot of thsoe paper pusher jobs would just disappear as the small fees they make wouldn't pay for the wages neccessary. Same with restaurants and retail a guy I talked to online was saying he has 20 McDonalds within 10 miles. A lot are half empty all the time, no where near full staffing. Retail is similiar, a lot of stores have few customers. It only makes sense in an under-utilized labor situation where you can hier someone for 7 dollars an hour and stand there 70% of the time generating no revenue.

JohnHill said at November 13, 2007 5:09 AM:

Randall - "These numbers suggest that from the standpoint of what is in the best economic interest of car buyers people seem to be underusing both hybrid and diesel technologies." I would suggest those numbers are wrong which is why I would suggest that people are overusing those technologies - at least hybrids.
I decided to buy the honda civic hybrid - over a three and a half year period gas would have to exceed $20 / gallon for it to have a cost benefit. I make it a point to share these numbers with others - I have found other hybrid owners have confirmed my experience. I have yet to find a person who achieves the published gas mileage estimate on a hybrid. I may feel better for going green but my intention was to go green and save a little green. I realize my evidence is anecdotal - but I am guessing that study you quote was based on published numbers of hybrid gas mileage rather than real life numbers.

Bigelow said at November 13, 2007 5:17 AM:

Why not buy a used 2006 Toyota Prius, have some organization like Calcars convert it to PHEV for an extra $8000(?) and assume gas costs over $3 (like it does now)? They claim 100MPG. Now what does the cost-benefit quiz reveal?

WarriorZ said at November 13, 2007 5:18 AM:

My work vehicle is a F250 diesel and is great (about 20 mpg in town). I even burn bio-diesel when available. My run-around vehicle is a small car that gets about 30 mpg.

My car is getting old but I hold out for a few more years until plug-in hybrids are available.

If the country is serious about reducing oil imports then government should offer to purchase non-hybrid trade-ins at $500 above blue-book and then junk them. This is better than giving a tax credit for the purchase. It would take the old gasoline only vehicle off the road and the government could recover most, if not all, of the money spent on the purchase when the car is junked for parts (of coursed disabled so as not to be sold whole).

Ned said at November 13, 2007 8:42 AM:

"Plus, it will necessitate big shifts in spending toward insulation, newer cars (more like the cars in Europe) which are more efficient, and other measures."

I was in Germany earlier this year, and gas cost over $6 per gallon. Yes, you see more small cars there, but there are still plenty of big ones, and they drive like maniacs on the autobahn.

Brett Bellmore said at November 13, 2007 10:46 AM:

Don't know why, but locally diesel is considerable more expensive than gasoline, on a per mile basis. This is a recent development; Maybe it's related to the seasonal demand for heating oil?

Dale Birchett said at November 13, 2007 4:34 PM:

Perhaps it is a regional phenomenon (I live in the oil crazy south-central US) but hybrid cars are not advertised by the dealers and manufacturers. I have wondered about this for years, it is almost as if the dealers don't want to sell them. The salesmen are fairly ignorant about the details of the hybrids and just the other day I drove my 2002 Prius onto a local Toyota dealers lot to have the oil changed and the service people were amazed that it was a hybrid (it has the generation 2 body style).

The new Ford Escape commercial is even more perplexing. Why don't you talk about your "hybrid hybrid" Dad? Are you ashamed to be environmentally contentious? Does it make you less of a man because you aren't driving a 7 MPG, high performance, ethyl burning, supercar? I really wish I had been in the room when the psychological arrows were forged for that commercial. I think it is based on the very foundation of the distorted, manipulative logic behind the US (and possibly world) car industry.

Randall Parker said at November 13, 2007 5:08 PM:


Honda's hybrid design is pretty poor. Their hybrid sales have been in the dumpster as a result. You'd have been much better off with a Toyota or even a Ford Escape hybrid. According to one analysis I read the Prius pays back its cost most quickly followed by the Escape hybrid.

As for real life mpg: The Prius EPA mpg got sliced by a third when the EPA made their driving path more realistic. The Prius effectively gamed the EPA test. Now the adjusted EPA test still shows pretty high scores for the Prius but in the mid 40s rather than the 60 it scored previously.

Brett Bellmore,

I have read in a Reuters article that China is buying up a lot of already refined diesel and this is sucking diesel away from the US West Coast especially. So now diesel costs 30 cents a gallon more than gasoline whereas it used to be the other way around.

I am curious to know what diesel costs on the US East Coast. Anyone know?

David Govett said at November 13, 2007 7:45 PM:

When the cost of treating lung diseases caused by the inhalation of diesel particles is included, diesel is not economically justifiable. Diesel particles are smaller than gas particles and go deeper into the lungs, often permanently and destructively.

Randall Parker said at November 13, 2007 8:26 PM:

David Govett,

I share your concern. For example, Dr. Andrew Lucking at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland exposed a bunch of young men to high diesel fume concentrations and found:

They found that breathing diesel fumes increased clot formation in the low shear chamber by 24.2% in comparison to breathing filtered air. Similarly, clot formation in the high shear chamber was found to be 19.1%. Both effects were present 2 hours and 6 hours after exposure to the diesel fumes.

Additionally, the diesel fumes were also found to increase platelet-neutrophil aggregates from 6.5% to 9.2% within 2 hours of exposure. The platelet-monocyte aggregates also went up from 21% to 25% in this period. However, 6 hours after exposure, these aggregates were not found to be statistically significant.

But how do these concentrations compare to what a new diesel car puts out in the US under current emissions regulations?

Wolf-Dog said at November 13, 2007 8:28 PM:

I am concerned especially about chemical fertilizers: it was mentioned by people in this web site before, that as a last resort, coal can be used to derive the same fertilizers if we run out of oil. This is a very important subject. Can you find more information on alternative sources of fertilizers, especially coal? Also, it must be expensive to distill coal to extract fertilizers... Do we need a nuclear reactor to heat coal in order to extract fertilizers?

It is possible that the price of food will double or even triple if alternatives cannot be found quickly. This would lead to a very inflationary world with a lot of depression.

Barry Parki said at November 13, 2007 8:58 PM:

You always hear the up side of diesel. There are significant problems with diesel engines for autos.

Diesel fuel uses the same hi grade fuel stock as gasoline. Diesel fuel has more btu's per gallon/liter than gasoline.

The engines have to be made stronger (heavier) than a gasoline engine to tolerate the high compression and the peak combustion pressure spike with each cycle. The engines also put out less horsepower per size and per lb than a gasoline engine. A diesel is most powerful and efficient in a narrow rpm band and requires transmissions with more gears (more $) to give good performance.

Diesel smells & stains much more than gasoline and is harder to clean in the event of a spill.

The modern diesel fuel requires more processing to avoid soot problems and requires more sophisticated down stream emissions requirements to eliminate soot which can cause lung problems, and cause odor issues if the sulphur is not refined out.

It used to be cheaper but now it ends up costing more per gallon than gasoline in California.

The plug-in rechargeable hybrid appears to be the most promising. A battery break through in capacity, and weight and reliability will result in a rapid transition to hybrid cars.

Keep tuned -- as they say.

Randall Parker said at November 13, 2007 9:07 PM:


Of course diesel has downsides. But the higher the price of oil the more its greater efficiency weighs in its favor.

As for pluggable hybrids: Wish I could buy one. But for people who drive longer distances liquid fuels will still over big advantages.

Pluggable hybrids will limit the growth of diesels. But both pluggable hybrids and diesels will become more popular as the price of oil goes up.

wcw said at November 13, 2007 9:47 PM:

A little off-topic but in re E85/ethanol -- we get the government we deserve. The day voters rebel against interest-group capture is the day corn subsidies die, along with the Cuba blocade and the mortgage-interest deduction.

Don't count on any of those any time soon.

On hybrids, I can't disagree, but then I wouldn't buy a new automobile unless you bought it for me. Cheaper than all of these is the 20mpg used beater you get for $2k. All the efficiency in the world is no match for starting out $15k ahead of the new, efficient alternatives. No, it's not great for the air, but individual virtue is no substitute for real public policy.

Which gets me back to my first point. It is our fault, but not because of the cars we drive, but because of the schmucks we elect.

odograph said at November 14, 2007 6:40 AM:

This discussion continues to be based funny math. Each car is compared to a gasoline equivalent (a hypothetical one, when a real one is not available).

The truth is, I could buy a Mercedes Blutech 320 right now. Or I could buy (I already have) a Toyota Prius. The Blutech gets a real world 32 mpg, while the Prius gets a real world 47 mpg.

But I'm not supposed to think about those as my two choices, right? Because they are not "equivalent."

The Rand study seems to hinge on the idea that no one would break out of a market segment as they make their buying decisions. They would want, say, a mid-size SUV, and never allow technology (or gasoline prices) to lead them to a smaller SUV or even a car or wagon.

It's BS. Just look up the highest real world MPGs in the current US-legal fleet, and you'll have the real answers ... what really saves money.

odograph said at November 14, 2007 6:50 AM:

Shorter: hybrid owners can point to their MPGs, boosters of other technologies can only point to press releases.

Randall Parker said at November 14, 2007 5:15 PM:


The Mercedes E320 diesel is over double the cost of the Prius.

Rand assumptions: Some people would rather not break out of their market segment and can afford not to. Some who are willing to break out of their market segment will break out of their market segment and yet still have a choice between gasoline, gasoline hybrid, or diesel.

The real choices are quickly moving beyond press releases. The VW Jetta turbo diesel is coming in spring 2008. A bunch of other diesels are coming out in 2008 with more in 2009 and 2010.

The number of hybrid choices is increasing as well. Very soon the results of the Rand study will become practical information for average car buyers.

Also, it is worth noting who paid for this Rand study: (PDF Format)

Acknowledgements: This RAND Working Paper was supported by unrestricted financial support to the Pardee RAND Graduate School, including contributions from Daimler-Chrysler, Dow, DuPont, Exxon-Mobil, Ford, General Electric, General Motors, and Toyota. The authors acknowledge helpful comments from a large number of helpful specialists in government, NGOs, and industry. The authors also acknowledge helpful critiques from the following peer reviewers: Robert Hahn, Winston Harrington, Eric Haxthausen, Tom Light, Reginald Modlin, Paul Sorensen, and Michael Toman. All errors and opinions are the responsibility of the authors. This working paper is scheduled for presentation at the 2007 annual meetings of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management and the Society for Risk Analysis.

For the decision makers in Ford, GM, and Toyota the economic analysis is useful for making product development decisions. I expect they'll make more diesel cars as a result. I also expect Exxon-Mobil will spend to make their refineries more optimized for diesel fuel production.

odograph said at November 15, 2007 4:29 AM:

First off, it's funny for you to tell me that the Mercedes is twice the cost of the Prius. This is supposed to be a thread about "money savers" righ That was another contradiction ... unless you buy the BS that you are locked into "equivalent" cars when you go shopping ... and you are "saving money" on your $60K Blutech (what did you say the Blutech Hybrid was going to cost?).

On that, I live in Newport Beach, California. Priuses park in front of meager apartment buildings, and in front of $30 million dollar houses ... and everything in-between (I live in-between). Obviously, in the real world this market segment thing is "incomplete" to say the least.

... and yes, it is standard operating procedure for a "booster" with a "press release" to say "soon this will change." I've actually been hearing that for years now, as small diesels were promised.

Care to guess your actual (as accumulated at that shared mileage database) mpg for the cars you are projecting? The 2006 Jetta Diesel scored only 41.2 mpg. Given the higher diesel costs in my state, and more importantly the Consumer Reports (or Edmunds) reliability rating that's not enough to make a winner. In fact, I believe the Prius is on CR's "buy" list for reliability and the VW's are on the "don't buy" side. behind a paywall here

odograph said at November 15, 2007 4:41 AM:

BTW, I can get 42 mpg with a seventeen foot sea kayak strapped to the top of my Prius (46-51 city, 49-52 on road-trips without the kayak) ... I really don't get why Prius-haters have to look under every rock and bush for a future-car that will beat that.

A rational position would be for you to say don't wait. Don't put all your eggs in the future-car basket. Applaud the best on the market today, and if/when something better proves itself, applaud that.

(I was actually in the market for a VW TDI before the Prius came out. If a Prius-beater actually hit dealer lots, I'd be in line for it too. After all, I am setting my standard by actual real-world performance, and not out of any bizarre techno (or brand) loyalty.)

Randall Parker said at November 15, 2007 5:57 PM:


The non-hybrid, non-diesel version of the Mercedes E class costs about twice the cost of a Prius too. I point to Mercedes because we can compare gasoline, diesel, and diesel hybrid versions of the same basic car to get a sense of how much their fuel efficiency varies.

Newport: I live in Santa Barbara and see a lot of Priuses too. They are very in style right now.

A rational position? I'm trying to understand the course of future events, not just discuss which products are available on the market right now.

VW reliability: This has nothing to do with diesel engines.

You seem to be keen to argue with strawmen. I'm not interested in playing the role.

odograph said at November 16, 2007 5:10 AM:

Are you kidding me? Every one of those answers was a dodge and weave. And to what point?

You say "he non-hybrid, non-diesel version of the Mercedes E class costs about twice the cost of a Prius too." Well, the what the heck was it doing in a thread called "Diesels and Hybrids Seend as Net Money Savers."

You say "Newport: I live in Santa Barbara and see a lot of Priuses too. They are very in style right now." Exactly. They have pulled across boundaries and broken out of (or never honored) the "gasoline equivalent" BS.

"A rational position? I'm trying to understand the course of future events, not just discuss which products are available on the market right now." I think a rational position, for now and for future products, is to define your goal (cost per mile or pollution per mile) and then judge all contenders uniformly by that measure.

And, actually, if the goal is impact on national fuel use or national pollution emissions, it matters what we choose now.

"VW reliability: This has nothing to do with diesel engines." It certainly does affect them as "Net Money Savers" doesn't it? I mean, go to Edmunds, use their 5 year cost engine ... look at how the fuel cost for a VW is completely offset by the increased maintenance cost. If you want to name VWs in a "Money Savers" thread is that off topic? Is that a freakin' straw man? Or is that a sane and rational caution to a prospective buyer?

Returning finally to futures ... sure, if this is a gab-fest on what might win someday as a future technology, have at it. We won't know until they are current cars, and by then I'm sure you'll have moved on to new "futures."

... but the sad thing is that people sit in old buying patterns, forever waiting for that magic future car, the Tahoe with Prius MPG.

odograph said at November 16, 2007 5:24 AM:

Note, in case it wasn't obvious: You introduced the Mercedes and the VW diesels to this thread, but then bizarrely tell me that I shouldn't actually examine them "As Net Money Savers."

odograph said at November 16, 2007 6:17 AM:

Maybe I'm not communicating well, so I'll over-post to make it clear. I see this argument as:

"A future X car may beat the Prius on pollution per mile, at lower cost"

Where x is:

1) Hydrogen
2) Electric
3) Plug-In Hybrid
4) Diesel
5) Diesel Hybrid
6) ?

Yes, that's true. I know that people are working on all those approaches.

I won't mind when technology improves personal transport, and I'll be happy no matter who (1-6) wins.

I just don't like future cars being used to denigrate current cars. Certainly car companies who don't have good current winners do that. It is competitive marketing, to stall buyers until their maybe-car is ready.

Now, what are the pundits doing? Are they using the future cars to criticize the present? Or are they (appropriately) applauding both?

Randall Parker said at November 16, 2007 6:21 PM:


You are misrepresenting what I have said while being rude and sloppy in your argumentation. To what end? Plus, again, you are arguing against strawmen of your own devising. 5 years ownership costs: Great source. I did the comparison on the 2006 Jetta 4 automatic transmission, with two engine choices, diesel and gasoline. One was 1.9L Turbodiesel. The other was 2.0L turbo gasoline. Well, the diesel had a 5 year cost of $36,858 whereas the gasoline was $38,691. So the diesel saves $1833 over 5 years.

You think the combination compared isn't similar enough? The GLI with the same 4 cylinder gasoline engine was $38,027. Still costs more than the diesel. You are welcome to choose among the other gasoline Jettas and try to come up with one that has a cheaper 5 years ownership cost.

They project lower fuel and maintenance costs for the diesel but higher repair costs for the diesel.

Randall Parker said at November 16, 2007 9:29 PM:

The page for comparing 5 year car ownership cost is very useful.

Looking at 2007 Camry regular and hybrid cars shows a surprising result: The hybrid choice is more expensive. Maybe the result is due to differences in the trim levels?

See A 2007 Camry CE with total 5 year cost of $38,822 versus a 2007 Camry hybrid with total cost of $44,489. Is the Camry CE the wrong trim level to compare against?

Note that I'm comparing against cars with automatic transmissions since the hybrids come with automatic transmissions.

So I shifted up a trim level to the 2007 Camry LE for $40,789. Still much more expensive than the hybrid. So I shifted up to still a higher trim level. The 2007 Camry XLE costs $42,827 for 5 years ownership.

I'm thinking the Camry hybrid isn't such a good deal unless the price of gasoline goes a lot higher. Speaking as someone who thinks Peak Oil is upon us higher gasoline prices seem likely. But Toyota needs to create a stronger value proposition with their Camry hybrid.

Note that I'm comparing same model with different engines. That allows useful comparisons of hybrid versus conventional gasoline versus diesel.

Randall Parker said at November 16, 2007 10:03 PM:

The Prius turns out to be very interesting. A big money saver? Nope. 2008 Prius standard hatchback costs $39,425 for 5 years ownership.

By contrast the 2008 Jetta S 2.5L gasoline costs $38,367 for 5 years ownership. That's cheaper.

odograph said at November 17, 2007 6:26 AM:

You did the "equivalent car" thing again, didn't you? The "end" to my argument is that this method has no real meaning.

In the real world, you'd compare (in a thread on "money savers") a used 2006 Jetta TDI (maybe a wagon to make it similar sized) to a used 2006 Prius. For my zip the Prius is $37,238, while the TDI (no wagon available for my zip) costs $39,800

... so what is YOUR goal Randal? I said above:

I think a rational position, for now and for future products, is to define your goal (cost per mile or pollution per mile) and then judge all contenders uniformly by that measure.

In your last post, going totally for dollars and not for any pollution measure, you put the gasoline Jetta above the Prius. By that measure, and to compare apples to apples, shouldn't you compare to the Corolla? For the CE model in my zip it's $36,586, cheaper than that Jetta.

So who's flippin' around?

I told you my goal above, when I said "A future X car may beat the Prius on pollution per mile, at lower cost"

I actually did think of a car that might beat the Prius on that now. It is a little smaller, and the fueling may not be easy for everyone, but I actually think the Honda Civic GX (compressed natural gas) wins on that score. It might "beat the Prius on pollution per mile, at lower cost"

I'm fine with that because I am not a single-brand or single-technology zealot.

odograph said at November 17, 2007 7:07 AM:

BTW, I am not that huge a fan of the Camry Hybrid. It's there, and it gets OK mileage. I'd rather see people getting the Prius, but ... if someone wants to help with CO2 emissions, and can't quite do the Prius (or Honda Civic GX) for some reason ... the Camry Hybrid is not altogether bad. Certainly they are choosing to pay more for that ... but perhaps that is part of the appeal. It might be a more 'elite' product, like the Mercedes Blutech.

Same thing with that Blutech ;-). I don't think it's actually bad. It gets OK mileage ... and some people can't stand to be seen in an "everyman's" car(*).

* - based on a median new-car price of $26-27K in the US.

Randall Parker said at November 17, 2007 8:42 AM:


Look at the title of the thread. The comparison is between methods of powering a vehicle and the measurement is total money spent.

You can't compare diesel and gasoline costs by comparing a diesel Mack truck with a Ford Focus compact gasoline car. You have to compare similar vehicles. Same model with different power plants achieves the most degree of similarity. Then only engine types are compared.

You tried making a cost assertion that proved quite false:

"VW reliability: This has nothing to do with diesel engines." It certainly does affect them as "Net Money Savers" doesn't it? I mean, go to Edmunds, use their 5 year cost engine ... look at how the fuel cost for a VW is completely offset by the increased maintenance cost. If you want to name VWs in a "Money Savers" thread is that off topic? Is that a freakin' straw man? Or is that a sane and rational caution to a prospective buyer?

So I said, okay, odograph thinks Edmunds cost comparisons are a meaningful metric for total costs. Fine. I did those comparisons. The results were not favorable to your argument. But you are still complaining.

odograph said at November 17, 2007 9:29 AM:

I was very clear Randall. I said "define your goal (cost per mile or pollution per mile) and then judge all contenders uniformly by that measure."

I have talked flexibly about different goals ((cost per mile or pollution per mile) ... but I hope that you saw in each one I was trying to be fair to the goal, and not to a vendor, a model, or a technology.

And I certainly did not compare "a diesel Mack truck with a Ford Focus." All of the cars we have been discussing have been compact-to-midsize passenger cars, by EPA designation.

But in fact, if we wanted to be strict, we would not actually allow Jetta to Prius comparisons because the Jetta is not midsize car like the Prius. Checking to verify, if you go to the EPA MPG page now, the Prius is listed (with the VW Passat) as a "family car", while the Jetta (and the Corolla, Civic) are listed under "small car":

So actually no, you have not yet set a "goal" and then measured uniformly across all cars for that goal.

odograph said at November 17, 2007 9:57 AM:

I found Edmund's own TCO study:

If you are interested just in cost, and not especially seeking low emissions or high fuel economy, then don't worry .... no diesels or hybrids make the list. Other factors apparently weigh more heavily.

odograph said at November 17, 2007 10:00 AM:

No wait, actually the Highlander Hybrid did make that list. (Not my favorite, for reasons similar to the Camry/Blutech.)

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