True, and the big shipping ships burn the crudest most unrefined disgusting tar like oil too. In fact, it's been said that the 16 largest ships in the World create more pollution than every car in the World combined! Crazy!
In the past year my job site upgraded their steam and heating boilers to no. 2 heating oil. Basically diesel with a lot more sulfur. Previously, we were burning no. 6 oil. It's called bunker fuel when used on a ship, and requires preheating to above water boiling temperature to be pumped.
Issue with diesels and why they haven't caught on in US is added cost and emissions, as well as stigma from old US diesels (largely from GM) which were just gas engines converted to run on diesel because someone thought that would be a good way to save money. New diesels have been having trouble meeting reliability and emissions standards, so introductions have been delayed in the US. There are a few new models rolling in, but they are taking much longer than expected.
Europe isn't exactly thrilled that so many people buy diesels, as they are an emissions nightmare, even the cleanest ones produce significant carcinogens and pollutants. London has some of the worst smog in the world for such fuel efficient vehicles.
Electricity is clean in the car, production of electricity might not be as clean, but it can be changed by cleaning up the power plant, which is a more efficient way of doing things. Currently my Volt is running on 62% coal (mostly cleaner Wyoming coal), 25% wind power, 8% nuclear and rest misc, mostly natural gas. Natural gas is rapidly being added while coal is being reduced. When power plants produce cleaner energy, my Volt becomes cleaner.
Also, US surplus capacity of electricity at night, when most people charge EVs, is supposedly on the order of 70 nuclear power plants worth. It helps power companies to level out power demand so it is basically free for them to add night charging EVs.
The Volt shows that American's can engineer a great car (I could care less where a car comes from). Almost everyone who drives a Volt for an extended period, likes it. There is a reason it often tops customer satisfaction surveys: clean, quiet, fast, efficient are words I would use to describe it.
That's what I still don't get with diesels, yes the C02 emissions are much much lower, mainly because they burn less fuel, and yes N0X emissions are higher (still microscopicly low compared to C02) but the diesel cars that are on sale in the US are not the cleanest available, you'd think the smaller cars with up to 50% less C02/N0X than say the VW TDI's would be the best place to start. I'd like to know just how much N0X pollution is enough to make it pass US standards, because I have a sneaky feeling most new modern diesels availabe here in Europe would probably pass anyway. You're talking about less than a tenth of a gram per KM for most.
I don't know what the issue is with so few diesels in the USA. I think it's a corporate issue. For what ever reason they are not listing the diesels as options here. Maybe it's the fact that they don't have techs at all the dealerships trained to work on them. Maybe it's the fact that diesels often come at a small premium and consumers tend not to choose them. I'm not sure what it is but we simply don't get many diesel options.
US diesel regulations for passenger vehicles is the most stringent in the world. Mostly because diesel cars have to meet the exact same standards as gasoline here, plus particulates. While that means meeting carbon monoxide is a joke for diesels, the other pollutant limits are difficult for them to meet.
Euro 6 emissions come close to the US regulations, but they aren't in full effect yet. Meanwhile, many of the diesels that are available here are being certified to LEV III standards that start going into affect around 2017. We were supposed to get the Mazda6 diesel that meets Euro 5 or 6 without DEF treatment. The introduction has been delayed multiple times because Mazda just can't get it the meet the limits here.
CO2 is directly related to the amount of fuel burned. The increased CAFE requirements will reduce the CO2 emissions.
Small gasoline cars still aren't big sellers in the US, and the margins are tight on them. Which is why there won't be a small diesel here for awhile. The non-luxury cars in which it is available; the Cruze, Jetta, Beetle, and Golf, are already considered small by the majority of the US population. The smaller displacement diesels Europeans have a choice of would get panned by the automotive critics and many of the buying public for being too slow here.
Some dealers may not want to pay for diesel technicians. The main hurdle for diesels in the US is the price of fuel over regular gasoline. That might change when ULS gas starts getting phased in, but even without that we will see more diesels as the auto makers aim for CAFE goals.
That's what I mean, the BMWs, Mercs and Audi's, not to mention VW all have diesels on sale in the US do they not? How did they pass the standards? It cant be that difficult or costly for a manufactuer to acheive this, otherwise they would not have bothered. I guess with the new CAFE standards soon, smaller cars will be all over the states, it seems the easiest way to slash emissions, just get rid of the ridiculous sized cars. Emissions could be instantly slashed by at least 60%. I
know it's difficult for Americans to grasp the concept of small capacity engines, but the truth is, American car manufactuers dont make the most of the engines they have with big capacity and small power. Take a look at the lap times of the Nurburgring, the top ones are mostly cars with an engine size of 2.0 litre ish, there's no reason in this day and age to have anything bigger than this, especialy with supercharging/turbocharging technology.
Please don't lump all Americans in as unable to grasp small displacement engines, I personally drive a 1 liter every day and love it. I can tell you many Americans value their family highly, and when you have a bunch of small kids, a lot of Americans will buy a large heavy car to keep their family safe, and these large cars need large displacement engines. When it comes to safety of family vs mpg/emissions, family safety wins.
On the diesel subject I have a diesel Chevy truck that I use occasionally, it gets 21 mpg which is good for a 8000lb vehicle. Trucks do not have to meet the same passenger car standards. If they made an I-4 of the V-8 in my truck, I am sure it would get fantastic mpg with plenty of power in a small vehicle. The problem is there are many anti diesel extremists here who hate diesels and lump the small passenger car ones into the same boat as the old black smoke blowing ones from years past.
Thats another common misconception, large heavy cars are not safer by any means, the masses involved in a collision are only magnified in a bigger heavier car. You crash two small cars into eachother and then crash two large cars into eachother at the same speed and the damage sustained will be much greater. Sure you could argue that the big car will come off better if it hits a smaller one, but then there's always somthing bigger out there on the roads.
I feel I will be safer if a I get hit by another car (regardless of its size) in my 8000lb 3/4 ton truck than I do in my 1700lb aluminum Insight. If I still had small kids I would not be strapping them into the Insight.