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Old 03-30-2014, 09:38 AM   #41
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As already said, GM didn't make the Geos. They were just rebadged Asian models. So, GM didn't have much say in development. What they did say was probably "keep it cheap." This is why the automatic was only 3 speeds. Gas was still under $2 a gallon back then, and GM didn't foresee the fuel costs rising greatly.

Which is why they were caught with their pants around their ankles when the price spiked in 2008. They had the Aveo from Daewoo. It had a 4 speed auto that, while it was bigger than the Metro, had a rating of about the same as the auto Metro. The manual wasn't much better. Part of the issue was that GM wanted to keep the car as cheap as possible. So it had dated transmissions, engine, and style.

GM didn't get serious with small cars until after the bankruptcy. That's when we got the Sonic. It is still called Aveo in most of the world, but that name had such a poor rep in the US, they felt it better to just rename it. It gets much better fuel economy than the first Aveo here. A tiny block turbo and 6 speed transmissions are the reason, which come with increased cost. Then came the aforemention Spark. If the rebate I got on the Sonic could have been applied to the Spark, I'd be in an even smaller car now.

GM would have been better off offering a small, fuel efficient car in the US. They would have been better off if even their larger vehicles were more fuel efficient. They had them overseas. Only now are they and the majority of Americans interested in them.

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But in general a diesel will have a considerable price premium over a gasoline engine, and at least here diesel fuel is somewhat more expensive than gasoline.
In general, a diesel vehicle will be cheaper to own than the gas model according to a somewhat recent study. It was looking at 3 and 5 year TCO, so had limited models to look at. Just the VWs, Mercede-Benzes, and heavy duty pick ups. Higher purchase price is covered by higher trade in value, and higher fuel price by higher fuel economy. Part of the higher purchase price is due to rarity and trim levels. It is a somewhat recent event that VW dealers even started marking diesel models down. Then feature to feature base diesels have more than the base petrol. Yeah, it can help some of the diesel costs, but most quotes of diesel premiums are like hybrid ones, not apples to apples.
http://www.bankrate.com/finance/auto...-models-1.aspx

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A side effect of the reduction in fuel consumption has been a reduction in tax revenue from fuel sales. That has caused problems in road maintenance, usually paid for from fuel taxes. Governments are still working out how to recoup the revenue, especially when electric cars are thrown into the mix.
Last thing first. Plug in cars are such a tiny component of total vehicle sales, their effect on fuel tax revenue can be a rounding error. Even totally blaming hybrids is off the mark as fuel economy of even standard vehicles are going up across the board.

The real short fall of federal fuel tax revenue is because the last time the issue was visited was in 1993 and it has no provision for inflation. So road repair costs have, predictably, risen in the twenty years, but Congress doesn't have the balls to increase the tax to account for that. Virginia has actually lowered their gas tax recently while Pennsylvania is raising it. So some states are being responsible, and others,um, not so much.
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Old 03-30-2014, 10:05 AM   #42
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Sure the CAFE requirements and emission regs have become a bit stricter, but nothing like what European regulations dictate.
Got to disagree with this. When Euro 6 goes into effect, they are about the same. One will be tighter on one pollutant than other, NOx in the US and CO in Europe. While there are pollutants one will address that the other won't; formaldehyde in US, particulates from DI petrols in Europe.
http://www.dieselnet.com/standards/us/ld_t2.php
http://www.dieselnet.com/standards/eu/ld.php
The US will probably be strictest when Tier 3 goes into place in 2017.

Our NOx limits is what has held new diesels here. Mazda's new Skyactiv diesel meets European and Asian limits without DEF. The US was supposed to get it in the Mazda6, but they are having trouble meeting emissions, and it's release keeps getting pushed back.

I didn't like the idea of DEF and SCR at first, but it is really the way to go for reducing NOx while maintaining the diesel's fuel efficiency reputation. It adds little to the running costs. A car will use 7 to 10 gallons of DEF over 10k miles. It costs less than $2,50gal at truck stops, and under $12 for the 2.5gal box from Walmart and like.
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Old 03-30-2014, 02:30 PM   #43
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I would not have mentioned my experiences with a now 30-year old diesel, had I not been specifically asked when I last drove a European diesel. For what it might be worth, the Renault service manual said that 2.0 liter diesel, naturally aspirated, made 60 hp. Turbocharged it was claimed to make 75. Those numbers, roughly 30 hp/liter (or about 1 hp per 2 cubic inches), are the sort of numbers I will readily believe, given the normal rpm limits of diesels.

I would like to see a little more proof of the statements about the USA being either ten years or several decades behind on automotive technology. That sort of claim looks a lot to me like the dreaded stereotyping. I think it is safe to say no nation has more than two or three years lead on any other nation, since auto companies are very largely international and since every maker observes and "borrows" the technology from every other.

Many years ago during the age of piston-powered aircraft, there were many attempts to use diesels. Their greatest chance to shine came with the rigid airships. Their weight was always a penalty, but the greater fuel economy allowed less fuel to be carried and partially offset the weight. Also, it was felt the fire danger was less because the diesels didn't emit as many sparks and the fuel was less flammable bearing in mind the hydrogen lifting gas. Packard (USA, even) made a 9-cylinder radial diesel for aircraft use, but their efforts to get an acceptable power-to-weight ratio led to problems with engine rigidity. The engine used neither an intake nor an exhaust manifold; had the normal radial engine vibration added to the diesel vibration, and was not successful. The hope was that the heavier diesel could be used for long flights (such as trans-Atlantic), where its weight could be offset by carrying less fuel. During WWII performance was much more important, and afterward the much more powerful, much lighter, and much thirstier jets took over. Even now work is ongoing for aircraft diesels, because of the impending end and high cost of aviation gasoline. An engine that can burn Jet-A will be useful.
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Old 03-30-2014, 03:02 PM   #44
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On rigid airships... American rigid airships used helium. The Hindenburg was specified in the original design to use helium. At the time the only source of helium was in the United States. The designers of the Hindenburg felt that the US could be convinced to allow helium to be exported to Germany for safety reasons. When the US refused to allow helium exports to Germany, the design was modified to use hydrogen. When the Hindenburg was redesigned to use hydrogen, more passenger cabins were added due to hydrogen's higher lift capacity than helium. For safety reasons there was also a pressurized smoking lounge added. The lounge was accessed via an airlock from the bar area.
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Old 03-30-2014, 03:51 PM   #45
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The airships using hydrogen for lifting gas had the advantage of greater lift and easier lift management, since hydrogen was reasonably cheap. As fuel burned off the airship became lighter, and hydrogen was valved off to compensate. With the much more expensive helium this was not a viable option, so condensers were added to the engine exhaust system to reclaim the water of combustion. That water was stored in ballast tanks to compensate for the weight of the burned fuel. The condensers collected a lot of soot, and the engine people got to clean the condensers while the ship was on the ground. Their time on the ground was made considerably less pleasant. Which has absolutely nothing to do with the subject of the thread.
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Old 03-30-2014, 08:35 PM   #46
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For you it's the transmission. For the next person it's the ride. For the next it's safety ratings. For another person it's luxuries and gizmos. The there's tons and tons of regulations and taxes and all manner of other things...
Yes, but just drive along anywhere in america, mostly you see SUV's and trucks being driven, not small fuel efficient cars. And 99% of the time they are driven empty with just one or two people in it. Now, I can understand a contractor or someone who needs to haul a lot of stuff on a daily basis needs a big truck, and I would be first in line to buy an F350, if that was my job too. But, why buy a big truck or SUV and just use it for running around town and commuting to work? That's the totally wasteful use of fuel we have here in the states.
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Old 03-31-2014, 12:02 AM   #47
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I would not have mentioned my experiences with a now 30-year old diesel, had I not been specifically asked when I last drove a European diesel. For what it might be worth, the Renault service manual said that 2.0 liter diesel, naturally aspirated, made 60 hp. Turbocharged it was claimed to make 75. Those numbers, roughly 30 hp/liter (or about 1 hp per 2 cubic inches), are the sort of numbers I will readily believe, given the normal rpm limits of diesels.

I would like to see a little more proof of the statements about the USA being either ten years or several decades behind on automotive technology. That sort of claim looks a lot to me like the dreaded stereotyping. I think it is safe to say no nation has more than two or three years lead on any other nation, since auto companies are very largely international and since every maker observes and "borrows" the technology from every other.

Many years ago during the age of piston-powered aircraft, there were many attempts to use diesels. Their greatest chance to shine came with the rigid airships. Their weight was always a penalty, but the greater fuel economy allowed less fuel to be carried and partially offset the weight. Also, it was felt the fire danger was less because the diesels didn't emit as many sparks and the fuel was less flammable bearing in mind the hydrogen lifting gas. Packard (USA, even) made a 9-cylinder radial diesel for aircraft use, but their efforts to get an acceptable power-to-weight ratio led to problems with engine rigidity. The engine used neither an intake nor an exhaust manifold; had the normal radial engine vibration added to the diesel vibration, and was not successful. The hope was that the heavier diesel could be used for long flights (such as trans-Atlantic), where its weight could be offset by carrying less fuel. During WWII performance was much more important, and afterward the much more powerful, much lighter, and much thirstier jets took over. Even now work is ongoing for aircraft diesels, because of the impending end and high cost of aviation gasoline. An engine that can burn Jet-A will be useful.
30 hp per litre? Are you seriously living in the past? Do you know how a diesel works? Are you even aware that Audi use diesel cars in the Le Mans Race series?

Proof that the US is behind? Go and spend a week in Tokyo, it's like stepping into the future.
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Old 03-31-2014, 06:00 AM   #48
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Yes, but just drive along anywhere in america, mostly you see SUV's and trucks being driven, not small fuel efficient cars. And 99% of the time they are driven empty with just one or two people in it. Now, I can understand a contractor or someone who needs to haul a lot of stuff on a daily basis needs a big truck, and I would be first in line to buy an F350, if that was my job too. But, why buy a big truck or SUV and just use it for running around town and commuting to work? That's the totally wasteful use of fuel we have here in the states.
Now that there are nice, small, efficient cars, trucks are still the biggest sellers. Just offering efficient vehicles isn't enough, the consumers' thinking has to shift.
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Old 03-31-2014, 07:07 AM   #49
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Now that there are nice, small, efficient cars, trucks are still the biggest sellers. Just offering efficient vehicles isn't enough, the consumers' thinking has to shift.
Yup.

And, for what it's worth, the trend does seem to be shifting. There are certainly still tons of people commuting alone in big SUVs, but "SUVs" that are really cars (i.e. station wagons with a centimeter of lift sold as crossovers, CAFE-rated as "trucks" because of a flat load floor) are quite popular now, and I'm seeing more sedans/hatchbacks/coupes than I used to.
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Old 03-31-2014, 07:30 AM   #50
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I think that its interesting that the first real crossover on the market (Pontiac Aztek) was a failure. It could have easily happened that we never got all the crossovers we see now.
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