A 55 mpg Volkswagen diesel?

VW BlueSport concept

VW BlueSport concept

Not long ago, the Volkswagen Jetta TDI was named Green Car of the Year.

It’s not a hybrid. It’s not electric. It’s not even a thrifty four-cylinder. It’s a diesel, which shows you just how far the technology has come in the last few years.

Now, at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, V-dub is showing off a concept called the BlueSport, which if it lives up to its claims of 0-60 in 6.2 seconds and 55 mpg on the highway, just may prove to diesel-wary Americans that this technology is for real.  

But what exactly IS diesel, and how does it work?

Both gas and diesel are refined from petroleum. While gas is a liquid, diesel is closer to the consistency of oil and has a higher combustion point. It also requires less refining, which is why it was cheaper than gas until demand for it increased. Since diesel fuel is more dense, it delivers fuel economy about 20 to 30 percent better than gasoline.

In gas engines, gas is mixed with air, compressed by pistons and then ignited by spark plugs. In a diesel engine, the air is compressed by pistons first and then the fuel is injected. Since air heats up when it is compressed, the fuel ignites. Diesel engines don’t use spark plugs and have fewer moving parts, so they require significantly less maintenance and generally last longer.

The historical drawbacks of diesel have been dirty exhaust and lackluster acceleration, but these two issues appear to have been put to rest by Volkswagen’s Jetta TDI and BlueSport concept.

Then there’s biodiesel, which isn’t a petroleum based product. Biodiesel is made from plant or animal oils that have been altered to fuel diesel engines. Wired’s Autopia goes into some detail about British ultra-luxe carmaker Bentley and its plans to develop a biofuel vehicle and debut it at the Geneva Auto Show in March.

Would you consider buying a diesel vehicle? Do you think biodiesel has a future, or would you rather go electric?

 -tgriffith

3 Comments

  1. I think that this is going to have to be the way of the future, if we want power, fuel economy and longevity in our autos.

  2. Wondering if $2000 cost to install the gear is justified by savings on diesel fuel over the life of the car?

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