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Cleaning Up.
November 22, 2008 9:24 PM   Subscribe

As the Bay Area looks to become the electric vehicle capital of America, the 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI won the Green Car of the Year Award at the LA Auto Show.
posted by gman (34 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ah ze Germans.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:53 PM on November 22, 2008


I want my hydrogen fuel cell/solar car and I don't want to hear about your "infrastructure" (stabby air quotes) hangups.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:33 PM on November 22, 2008


48mpg highway? That's... (quick sums) about 56mpg(UK). 140Bhp?

Pitiful.

Hell, my old 2004 Alfa Romeo 156 JTD had 175Bhp, more torque and returned a reliable 50mpg(UK)/43mpg(US), and that was with 90mph cruise speeds.

Still, I suppose it's a step in the right direction.
posted by Nice Guy Mike at 10:45 PM on November 22, 2008


my old 2004 Alfa Romeo

Only an Italian car could be considered old after 4 years.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:50 PM on November 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Please bear in mind that a gallon of diesel contains 14% more carbon than a gallon of gas, and take this into account when comparing MPG ratings. In other words, multiply the Jetta's stellar milages by 0.87 if you want to compare it to a Prius in terms of CO2 output.

Also be aware that while the new VW diesels are 50 state compatible, they are still in the dirtiest of California's emissions categories.

Not a jetta or a diesel hater, but do see these facts conveniently omitted in a lot of comparisons (including, it seems, the NYT's.)
posted by pascal at 10:50 PM on November 22, 2008


Only an Italian car could be considered old after 4 years.

You've clearly never driven an Alfa Romeo... :-)

Actually, my point was that it was 5 years ago; automotive technology can move a long way in that time.
posted by Nice Guy Mike at 10:56 PM on November 22, 2008


Nice Guy Mike: the NYT is using US Gallons, you are using Imperial. An Imperial gallon is 1.2 US gallons. So your Alfa, while very nice, is not in the same league MPG-wise.
posted by pascal at 11:00 PM on November 22, 2008


Please also bear in mind that diesel fuel generates about 4Mj/gal* more that gasoline. In terms of carbon, diesel engines do much better -- yes, they emit more carbon, but they do so not as CO, but as C -- rather than carbon monoxide, a gas, they emit a bunch of carbon as soot -- pure carbon, which falls to the ground and does, well, nothing to atmospheric carbon.

There was a very real pollution problem with diesels in the US -- thanks to our lousy high sulfur diesel, sulfur dioxide was a real problem. The low cetane number made US diesel engines harder to start.

But now, with ULSD in the US, diesel is becoming a more attractive option.


*Yes, I'm mixing my units. I never could take my units straight up.
posted by eriko at 11:04 PM on November 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Eriko: I don't believe the soot in diesel exhaust is a significant proportion of the carbon in the fuel. All that extra energy comes from, you know, burning carbon in air.

Don't take my word for it. Look up the CO2/km figures for the 2009 Jetta TDi and the Prius. Jetta: 137g/km, Prius: 102g/km.
posted by pascal at 11:24 PM on November 22, 2008


BTW, those are the european numbers, based on EU milage ratings of 65mpg for the Prius and 54mpg for the Jetta. Which is consistent with a diesel gallon putting out 10% more CO2 than a gasoline gallon.
posted by pascal at 11:34 PM on November 22, 2008


What about the VW Polo? Those things have a 1.3 liter 3- cylinder or a 1.8 liter 4-cylinder TDI, and can get 70MPG.

... And then there's the Lupo. I want one.
posted by dunkadunc at 4:37 AM on November 23, 2008


The "King of Cars" closed his Hummer lot to open a Smart Car dealership in Vegas.
posted by gman at 6:12 AM on November 23, 2008


Nice Guy Mike: the NYT is using US Gallons, you are using Imperial. An Imperial gallon is 1.2 US gallons. So your Alfa, while very nice, is not in the same league MPG-wise

Uh, what? I deliberately put both UK and US figures whenever I mentioned mpg. 48mpg(US) @ 60mph and 43mpg(US) @ 80-90mph are definitely "in the same league".
posted by Nice Guy Mike at 7:33 AM on November 23, 2008


For the award, I'm sure they factored things like design, price and potential useage into the decision.

The Jetta is a big car, that can easily hold 5 adults and all their luggage. I have a 2007 Jetta GLI and have done trips with 4 adults, 2 pairs of skis and 2 snowboards all inside the car because I don't have a roof rack.

The new Jetta wagon has even more rear storage - its a realistic car and not a gimmick.
posted by jeffmik at 8:16 AM on November 23, 2008


Hell, my old 2004 Alfa Romeo 156 JTD had 175Bhp, more torque and returned a reliable 50mpg(UK)/43mpg(US), and that was with 90mph cruise speeds.

There is very little chance that your 2004 Alfa was required to pass the same emissions standards as the 2009 Jetta. You are not comparing like for like, unfortunately. Do not underestimate the incredibly tough increases in emissions standards over recent years (for instance, your Alfa wa snot, if I recall, sold in California, which suggests it may well be very much unable to be through emissions issues). Being as it stopped being produced in 2005/6 it is extremely unlikely that it was designed to pass even the 2010 changes in emissions standards, never mind the later ones which the Jetta will have been engineered for.
posted by Brockles at 8:49 AM on November 23, 2008


Nice Guy Mike: you're right, my bad. Should not do anything with numbers after a glass of Maudite.

But, like Brockles says. The stricter regulations in California is why there are so few diesel cars on sale in North America and why you get gushing articles about diesel mileage in places like the NYT when the rare car that can pass the regs goes on sale.
posted by pascal at 9:03 AM on November 23, 2008


Only an Italian car could be considered old after 4 years.


Yeah these old buckets of bolts are POS rattletraps amirite? GO USA.

posted by Zambrano at 9:03 AM on November 23, 2008


Here's how to make your 1982 gas guzzler even greener: work closer to home. Seriously. If my car gets 50mpg but I travel 200 miles a day, I'm not being green. If you drive a hummer down the street to the supermarket once a week - and heck, you can leave the engine running while you're in there - you're doing way better than I am.

Remember kids, it's total consumption that counts, not consumption per mile.
posted by grandpa at 9:32 AM on November 23, 2008


It reminds me of the 2009 Golf BlueMotion. If I had the extra scratch, I would buy one. All I've ever driven here in the UK is a Golf TDi, and it would be much the same, only better. I may miss some of the oomph my 1.9 gives me, though.
posted by chuckdarwin at 9:46 AM on November 23, 2008


While diesel's may be releasing more carbon into the atmosphere, the hope is the carbon being released is from bio, not dino, diesel. The carbon from biodiesel would just be one generation old (the result of the biomass capturing the CO2 as it grew), not dispersing the long sequestered carbon from millions of years ago.

I drive a 06 TDi, and I get 42mpg on the highway (but much less on my daily commutes, since it is all seattle traffic driving). A hybrid would probably clobber me in mileage for the same drive, since the engine would be off the majority of the time. A plugin hybrid tdi would be my ideal commuter car.

But back to the point: you can take a lot of hydrocarbon right liquids (and gases) and turn them into diesel. You even strip out the sulphur, and a lot of the soot and other nasties can be filtered easier (since the sulphur dioxide would kill those systems), for an even cleaner burning engine. Give me algae farms, to make biodiesel, which we can transport in systems we already have and use in engines that have been around for a hundred years, along with the initial solar battery system that has been around for a few billion years, algae. Not that we should stop researching into H2 systems (solar electrolysis) or pure electric cars, but this can keep us moving in the interim.
posted by mrzarquon at 10:31 AM on November 23, 2008


There is very little chance that your 2004 Alfa was required to pass the same emissions standards as the 2009 Jetta.

Granted, although it was easily capable of passing Euro-IV - not as stringent as California, I'll grant you, but no slouch, either.

What I'm trying to get at was that VW is pretty much at the back of the pack when it comes to European Diesels, largely due to the stubborn insistence on sticking with independent injectors when everyone else had already gone over to common-rail technology. Fiat (owner of Alfa) licensed the technology to most of the European manufacturers, and GM acquired rights to use it via a partnership with Fiat - hence why just about every Vauxhall and Opel (european market GMs) have the option of the same 1.9l common-rail diesel derived from the one in my old Alfa. I'm surprised that GM aren't planning to release SAABs powered by the same 1.9ls once the US starts sorting out the crap quality high-sulphur diesel that eriko touched on, above.

It means that VW-group diesels have lagged behind just about everyone else in Europe when it comes to power and/or efficiency. Example, from the UK's VCA agency:

2008 Alfa Romeo 147 1.9JTDm: 170Bhp/58.8mpg(UK) extra urban.
2008 VW Jetta 2.0 TDI: 140Bhp/58.8mpg(UK) extra urban.

It's only with their new Blue series diesels that VW have started to show a bit of innovation in the field - it'll be interesting to see where things go next (the proposed diesel-electric hybrid would be very interesting, in my book).

Here's how to make your 1982 gas guzzler even greener: work closer to home. Seriously.

QFT.
posted by Nice Guy Mike at 10:44 AM on November 23, 2008


It's only with their new Blue series diesels that VW have started to show a bit of innovation in the field

That's pretty unfair. The PD engine was spectacular when it first came out - it's just that the common rail direction proved to have more legs when it was developed. I drove 150HP PD diesel Golfs back in 2001 that would easily hit 45-55mpg (UK) and were fast as hell. Unfortunately, this massive jump in efficiency and power (aided by the variable vane turbo's they were using, admittedly) seemed to be much nearer the peak of efficiency that the concept was capable of. VW chose a direction that didn't have as much ultimate scope as that first produced by Alfa, but it was certainly not lacking in innovation - especially if you have any idea how hard it is to achieve the manufacturing tolerances required to make the PD stuff work in mass production. Common rail has certainly proven to be the direction to go in, but to dismiss the PD concept as 'not innovative' is unfair. After all, some of the high pressure pumping systems and management of pressure are directly usable in a common rail application, so the work was not all a waste. Particularly as the innovation in production techniques by Volkswagen during that time significantly improved the accuracy and repeatability necessary to producing engines capable of achieving high power while complying with progressively tighter emissions. It's just a lot of the innovation from developing the system was not immediately apparent to the public.

It looks like the other European manufacturers need to grow themselves a pair and launch into the US market properly, as VW will (again) become the industry standard this side of the pond through being brave, marketing effectively and being sufficiently better than the alternative (petrol cars) whilst not necessarily being the ultimate version of its type. From a US perspective, it doesn't matter if the Alfa is 800bhp and 1000mpg if they can't buy it. The VW will still win 'best diesel' here.
posted by Brockles at 11:58 AM on November 23, 2008


Yeah these old buckets of bolts are POS rattletraps amirite? GO USA.

Actually, they are. Maseratis, Ferraris, Alfas, etc have terrible reliability ratings. They look sexy, but not so much when their up on a lift in a garage. US cars suck for the most part as well. But I didn't meant to offend your oh so delicate tastes for the finer crap in life. Go Japan!
posted by Burhanistan at 12:46 PM on November 23, 2008


they're even. damn.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:46 PM on November 23, 2008


Actually, they are. Maseratis, Ferraris, Alfas, etc have terrible reliability ratings.

While I fully agree with your point,the context has an awful lot to be desired. I do feel the argument totally misses the context of "italian cars vs american cars" unless you compare like for like. Compare Alfa, Lancia and Fiat to GM, Ford and Chevy. Don't get Ferrari and Lamborghini involved (especially the ridiculous concept of 'reliability ratings' in respect to such cars) as they simply don't have a US parallel in terms of market or a comparable manufacturer. When you are discussing 'cars' as a means of transport (everyday/mass/commuting etc), then supercars simply don't have a place in the discussion and their inclusion is dangerously close to strawman territory.

It'd like me saying that all boats are shit because they have crappy fuel mileage. Or that all racing cars are inefficient as they get shitty fuel mileage too. It's just not apples for apples.
posted by Brockles at 1:20 PM on November 23, 2008


The Jetta is a big car ...

It's much smaller than last year's Green Car of the Year, the Chevy Tahoe. We're making progress!

all boats are shit because they have crappy fuel mileage.

Hey, my sailboat gets great mileage. It goes like 6 knots per gallon of wind.
posted by sfenders at 2:53 PM on November 23, 2008


Granted it's not apt to compare a Lambo to a lesser car, but compare a Maserati or Alfa to a Lexus and it becomes much clearer.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:17 PM on November 23, 2008


You think that Alfa are in the same market as Maserati? And that Maseratis could be considered to be in the same market sector as a Lexus?

Oh dear.

Maserati, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Lamborghini (Spyker, Pagani, etc., etc) are in the same market sector as each other and with a holiday home or a ski lodge. Or a yacht. Or a race horse. They are nowhere near comparable to the mainstream car market. An Alfa or a Lexus are just mass produced cars - you need a car and they are on the list of products that you consider. None of the manufacturers in the first sentence are ones you buy if you 'need a car'. They are luxury items that just happen to have four wheels.
posted by Brockles at 3:48 PM on November 23, 2008


None of the manufacturers in the first sentence are ones you buy if you 'need a car'.

Unless maybe your name is Jeremy Clarkson and you have a budget of £1000. Different market sectors sure, but then so is the Chevy Tahoe.
posted by sfenders at 4:05 PM on November 23, 2008


Metafilter: 6 knots per gallon of wind.
posted by CynicalKnight at 4:09 PM on November 23, 2008


My somewhat naive knowledge of what a Maserati is consumed for does not change the fact that they are rolling objets du merde.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:28 PM on November 23, 2008


pascal: Um, the Prius weighs half a ton less. The CO2 emissions are the same per pound of vehicle. Get off your high horse.
posted by wierdo at 6:49 PM on November 23, 2008


>the Prius weighs half a ton less

You say that like it's a bad thing!

Anyway, I can't see what that has to do with the amount of CO2 output per gallon, I'm afraid. I could have substituted any gas vehicle and the numbers will work out the same.

Like I said, I don't hate the Jetta. I actually quite like them...
posted by pascal at 12:21 AM on November 24, 2008


pascal, you wrote "Don't take my word for it. Look up the CO2/km figures for the 2009 Jetta TDi and the Prius. Jetta: 137g/km, Prius: 102g/km."

Per kilometer, the CO2 emissions are essentially identical per pound of vehicle.

And FWIW, I wasn't saying that either of the vehicles was better or worse due to its weight, just that neither of them is cleaner in terms of carbon emissions when you normalize it. The Jetta is just more vehicle, so has more emissions. In exchange, you get a somewhat more practical vehicle for those of us who occasionally have the need to pack them full of crap for work.

I'll keep driving my 17 year old accord, thanks. At least if I can ever get the magic smoke put back in the ignition system. Although I'm putting around 161g/km of carbon (plus a little for the quart or two of oil every 3000 miles), I'm saving the carbon emissions required to manufacture a new vehicle, which is not insignificant, even when using recycled steel.
posted by wierdo at 2:19 AM on November 26, 2008


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