Diesel no image

Published on December 3rd, 2009 | by Nick Chambers

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And the Green Car of the Year is… a Diesel. Again!

Audi of America President Johan de Nysschen accepting the Green Car of the Year Award for the Audi A3 TDI

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At last year’s LA Auto Show, the Volkswagen Jetta TDI rather surprisingly beat out many non-diesel contenders to win the title of 2009 Green Car of the Year. And, if I were a betting man, I would have never guessed that the Green Car Journal would choose another diesel to win the 2010 title. But they have. The Audi A3 TDI was just named the 2010 Green Car of the Year.

Why is it surprising? Diesels have for a long time been relegated to the back shelf of the American automotive scene. Aside from heavy duty truck applications, it was a rare day that your normal American actually even saw a diesel passenger car on the road. But all of that is slowly changing, and, as witnessed by the attention many German manufacturers have been paying to the Americanization of diesels, the future looks bright for diesels in the US.

For good reason too: many of these cars get astoundingly good fuel economy and have very low emissions. They’re not your papa’s diesel. In the case of the Audi A3 that’s available in the US, it gets a reported 30 city/42 highway mpg (in Europe they sell a model that gets roughly 40 city/52 highway mpg… if that model were for sale here, I’d certainly be happier to say the A3 deserved the title of Green Car of the Year).

Personally I think the choice of the A3 TDI as Green Car of the Year was more of a political one than anything elseā€”sculpted to add additional credence to the viability of diesels on the US market. The A3 TDI was up against a bevy of green cars including the venerable Toyota Prius, the universally panned Honda Insight, the Mercury Milan Hybrid, and another diesel, the VW Golf TDI.

Photo Credit: Nick Chambers



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Not your traditional car guy.



  • http://greengadgetblog.com/ Megan

    What I don’t understand is – why a Diesel? What is the green benefit? Does it get good mileage? And, is it better than a Hybrid. Kind of confusing …

  • http://greengadgetblog.com/ Megan

    What I don’t understand is – why a Diesel? What is the green benefit? Does it get good mileage? And, is it better than a Hybrid. Kind of confusing …

  • PJ

    Megan – epic fail.

  • PJ

    Megan – epic fail.

  • PJ

    Megan – epic fail.

  • George B

    The Toyota, etc. hybrid approach to fuel efficiency results in fuel efficient isolation chamber well suited to urban stop and go traffic. An efficient appliance for when driving is not fun. The Volkswagen/Audi diesel approach to fuel efficiency results in a fuel efficient car that’s potentially lighter weight and relatively fun to drive on the open road. To be fair, I think the “green” fuel efficiency rating should take into consideration the higher BTUs per gallon for diesel.

  • George B

    The Toyota, etc. hybrid approach to fuel efficiency results in fuel efficient isolation chamber well suited to urban stop and go traffic. An efficient appliance for when driving is not fun. The Volkswagen/Audi diesel approach to fuel efficiency results in a fuel efficient car that’s potentially lighter weight and relatively fun to drive on the open road. To be fair, I think the “green” fuel efficiency rating should take into consideration the higher BTUs per gallon for diesel.

  • vance

    megan,

    1. Far simpler technology

    2. Competitive milage

    3. No expensive battery to replace

    4. No special requirements for emergency personnel in case of accident

    5. Eliminates environmental hit of constructing and disposing of battery

    6. LOOKS A LOT BETTER THAN A PRIUS!!! :-)

  • vance

    megan,

    1. Far simpler technology

    2. Competitive milage

    3. No expensive battery to replace

    4. No special requirements for emergency personnel in case of accident

    5. Eliminates environmental hit of constructing and disposing of battery

    6. LOOKS A LOT BETTER THAN A PRIUS!!! :-)

  • vance

    megan,

    1. Far simpler technology

    2. Competitive milage

    3. No expensive battery to replace

    4. No special requirements for emergency personnel in case of accident

    5. Eliminates environmental hit of constructing and disposing of battery

    6. LOOKS A LOT BETTER THAN A PRIUS!!! :-)

  • JB

    PJ: be nice.

    Another consideration: With normal driving, diesels seem to meet or beat their EPA mileage, while hybrids seem to miss for many. Agree with George, diesels are fun to drive, and are better suited to highway driving, and a hybrid seems better for stop and go driving, due to its ability to recycle the energy created from braking. The new diesels have very clean emissions: they are not the smoke-belching beasts of old. I don’t know of any diesel hybrids, but it would be great if there was such a thing. Can you imagine the mileage of a diesel/hybrid?

  • JB

    PJ: be nice.

    Another consideration: With normal driving, diesels seem to meet or beat their EPA mileage, while hybrids seem to miss for many. Agree with George, diesels are fun to drive, and are better suited to highway driving, and a hybrid seems better for stop and go driving, due to its ability to recycle the energy created from braking. The new diesels have very clean emissions: they are not the smoke-belching beasts of old. I don’t know of any diesel hybrids, but it would be great if there was such a thing. Can you imagine the mileage of a diesel/hybrid?

  • JB

    PJ: be nice.

    Another consideration: With normal driving, diesels seem to meet or beat their EPA mileage, while hybrids seem to miss for many. Agree with George, diesels are fun to drive, and are better suited to highway driving, and a hybrid seems better for stop and go driving, due to its ability to recycle the energy created from braking. The new diesels have very clean emissions: they are not the smoke-belching beasts of old. I don’t know of any diesel hybrids, but it would be great if there was such a thing. Can you imagine the mileage of a diesel/hybrid?

  • htl

    40 city/52 isn’t that green if you ask me. now >65 would be more like it.

    By the way, all prius battery’s are recycled (unless you purposely throw them in a landfill)

    Too bad we don’t have real diesel engines which is why i will keep my money in my wallet till we get some REAL efficient choices… too bad but my corolla will have to keep on chugging.

  • htl

    40 city/52 isn’t that green if you ask me. now >65 would be more like it.

    By the way, all prius battery’s are recycled (unless you purposely throw them in a landfill)

    Too bad we don’t have real diesel engines which is why i will keep my money in my wallet till we get some REAL efficient choices… too bad but my corolla will have to keep on chugging.

  • htl

    40 city/52 isn’t that green if you ask me. now >65 would be more like it.

    By the way, all prius battery’s are recycled (unless you purposely throw them in a landfill)

    Too bad we don’t have real diesel engines which is why i will keep my money in my wallet till we get some REAL efficient choices… too bad but my corolla will have to keep on chugging.

  • wolf2012

    Megan, your comment is symptomatic in America where marketing rules. So Toyota managed to convince you (I assume) that their hybrid is the greenest thing. Well, for starters, nickel mining is a nasty thing to the environment. Second, batteries are toxic waste that needs to be dealt with – and that’s gonna cost money, yours or the taxpayers. Thirdly, the quality of the Audi and the Golf is a few notches above the others and retail value is part of the equation. So congratulations to Audi – it’s the greener car, and it is not only in the city, but on the freeway as well (where hybrids are just as bad as regular gasoline powered cars). Did I mention the fun driving a sophisticated (in every way) car?

  • wolf2012

    Megan, your comment is symptomatic in America where marketing rules. So Toyota managed to convince you (I assume) that their hybrid is the greenest thing. Well, for starters, nickel mining is a nasty thing to the environment. Second, batteries are toxic waste that needs to be dealt with – and that’s gonna cost money, yours or the taxpayers. Thirdly, the quality of the Audi and the Golf is a few notches above the others and retail value is part of the equation. So congratulations to Audi – it’s the greener car, and it is not only in the city, but on the freeway as well (where hybrids are just as bad as regular gasoline powered cars). Did I mention the fun driving a sophisticated (in every way) car?

  • wolf2012

    Megan, your comment is symptomatic in America where marketing rules. So Toyota managed to convince you (I assume) that their hybrid is the greenest thing. Well, for starters, nickel mining is a nasty thing to the environment. Second, batteries are toxic waste that needs to be dealt with – and that’s gonna cost money, yours or the taxpayers. Thirdly, the quality of the Audi and the Golf is a few notches above the others and retail value is part of the equation. So congratulations to Audi – it’s the greener car, and it is not only in the city, but on the freeway as well (where hybrids are just as bad as regular gasoline powered cars). Did I mention the fun driving a sophisticated (in every way) car?

  • wolf2012

    htl – even if batteries are recycled (whatever that really means – and to what degree is it recycled), it’s a cost factor for Toyota. Money, they need to save in other areas of the car. How else can Toyota give a 10 year warranty on the battery pack, if it is not already factored into the price of the car… Or do you think they just want to be nice and get you a freebie … ;) This technology is promising, but we still need to solve many problems that arise around battery manufacturing. So the low-consumption Diesel technology is something that does not come with this (future-deferred) baggage, and that is also why a modern Diesel is the Green Car of the Year the second time in a row, besides other factors.

  • wolf2012

    htl – even if batteries are recycled (whatever that really means – and to what degree is it recycled), it’s a cost factor for Toyota. Money, they need to save in other areas of the car. How else can Toyota give a 10 year warranty on the battery pack, if it is not already factored into the price of the car… Or do you think they just want to be nice and get you a freebie … ;) This technology is promising, but we still need to solve many problems that arise around battery manufacturing. So the low-consumption Diesel technology is something that does not come with this (future-deferred) baggage, and that is also why a modern Diesel is the Green Car of the Year the second time in a row, besides other factors.

  • http://biodiversivist.blogspot.com/2009/05/hybrid-electric-bike-with-afterburners.html Russ Finley

    “Fun to drive” is not a precisely defined term. It is also purely subjective. Most of us don’t harbor a fantasy of racing our cars along curving coastal roads with a voluptuous red head by our side.

    The Prius is fun to drive. I love it’s quiet smooth acceleration, the way it turns off in stop and go traffic to use the battery to creep along, the engine braking mode on steep grades, and the precision of the cruise control.

    There has never been a car like it. It is the best car I’ve ever sat in when it comes to long distance travel.

    The Prius is actually better suited for highway driving. That is where it gets it’s best mileage, typically around 50 mpg. It stores energy on the highway as well whenever the car decelerates.

    Battery reliability and toxicity were long ago proven not to be a concern.

  • http://biodiversivist.blogspot.com/2009/05/hybrid-electric-bike-with-afterburners.html Russ Finley

    “Fun to drive” is not a precisely defined term. It is also purely subjective. Most of us don’t harbor a fantasy of racing our cars along curving coastal roads with a voluptuous red head by our side.

    The Prius is fun to drive. I love it’s quiet smooth acceleration, the way it turns off in stop and go traffic to use the battery to creep along, the engine braking mode on steep grades, and the precision of the cruise control.

    There has never been a car like it. It is the best car I’ve ever sat in when it comes to long distance travel.

    The Prius is actually better suited for highway driving. That is where it gets it’s best mileage, typically around 50 mpg. It stores energy on the highway as well whenever the car decelerates.

    Battery reliability and toxicity were long ago proven not to be a concern.

  • http://biodiversivist.blogspot.com/2009/05/hybrid-electric-bike-with-afterburners.html Russ Finley

    “Fun to drive” is not a precisely defined term. It is also purely subjective. Most of us don’t harbor a fantasy of racing our cars along curving coastal roads with a voluptuous red head by our side.

    The Prius is fun to drive. I love it’s quiet smooth acceleration, the way it turns off in stop and go traffic to use the battery to creep along, the engine braking mode on steep grades, and the precision of the cruise control.

    There has never been a car like it. It is the best car I’ve ever sat in when it comes to long distance travel.

    The Prius is actually better suited for highway driving. That is where it gets it’s best mileage, typically around 50 mpg. It stores energy on the highway as well whenever the car decelerates.

    Battery reliability and toxicity were long ago proven not to be a concern.

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