08/23/2002 – Drivers of SUVs Saving Big Money With Diesel Engines

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Source: International Truck and Engine


Half of all American vacationers on the road this year are driving
gas-guzzling SUVs and pickup trucks, according to a new survey on driving
habits from research firm MarketFacts. These bigger vehicles burn high
amounts of fuel, which not only puts a dent in drivers’ wallets, but also
increases the country’s dependence on foreign oil. Ironically, the
MarketFacts study shows that fuel economy is an important issue for SUV and
pickup drivers.

According to automotive experts, standard gasoline engines can’t efficiently
handle the weight of the larger – and very popular – SUVs and pickup
trucks. There is an alternative, however, for drivers of big vehicles to
consider: diesel engines.

Diesel engines like the Power StrokeĀ® Diesel in Ford F-Series Super Duty
pickups are specifically made to provide better mileage -30 percent in most
cases – and have more pulling power than gas engines, which is why they are
especially popular among those hauling camping gear or towing boats, RVs and
horse trailers.

“People love big trucks for a lot of great reasons, but running a gas engine
in them is like trying to heat a hotel with a small home furnace. You’re
going to burn way too much fuel and you still won’t get the power you really
need,” said Patrick Charbonneau, chief technical officer, Engine Group,
International Truck and Engine Corporation. “Diesel engines produce more
power than gasoline engines because diesel fuel itself has more energy. And
today’s diesel engines are electronically controlled to boost performance
and fuel efficiency.”

However, the study found despite diesel’s known benefits, many Americans are
resistant because they still have a negative perception of these engines,
recalling the noisy and odorous diesel engines of the 70s. Industry experts
dispel these myths saying today’s diesel engines are greatly improved –
running quietly and not producing odors or smoke.

Major automakers in the US have taken an interest in diesel power
predominantly because of the success of diesels in Europe.

“Over 30 percent of the passenger cars in Europe are now diesel, and the
main reason is fuel economy,” said Charbonneau. “The Big Three know fuel
economy is keenly important here in North America.”

Currently in the US, diesel engines are an option over the standard gasoline
engines. Although buying a diesel engine is a higher monetary investment
initially, automakers say diesel engines make up this cost difference within
just three years from fuel savings alone. Diesel engines also add greater
resale value to pickups and SUVs due to their longevity.

Industry insiders believe that in 20 years, 30 percent of the passenger
cars, sport utilities and pickups in America will use diesel engines because
of fuel efficiency and near zero emissions capabilities. According to The
Department of Energy, if diesels reach even a percent of their potential
penetration by 2020, the country could conserve as much as 700,000 barrels
of fuel per day – half the energy used daily by the state of California.

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