Fuelishness! -- The FuelClinic.com Blog

AAA Finds That Despite Low Demand, Oil Prices Are Keeping Gas Prices High

January 20, 2012 · Filed Under Diesel, Gasoline, Oil & Politics, Oil Industry · Comment 

Source: Automotive Fleet

Overall, gasoline demand was reported at a little more than 8 million barrels per day, which AAA said is a 400,000-barrel-per-day year-over-year decline and at the lowest level since 2003, according to a recent U.S. Department of Energy report.

Despite ample supply and low demand for gasoline, though, the national average for gas prices is still up 10 cents over the previous week, with impending refinery shutdowns and high crude oil prices pushing prices up, according to AAA. The national retail average price for a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline was $3.38 on Jan. 17, a penny more expensive than one week ago, 15 cents more expensive than one month ago, and 28 cents more expensive than a year ago.



Ex-Shell president sees $5 gas in 2012

Source:  CNNMoney.com

The former president of Shell Oil, John Hofmeister, says Americans could be paying $5 for a gallon of gasoline by 2012.

In an interview with Platt’s Energy Week television, Hofmeister predicted gasoline prices will spike as the global demand for oil increases.

“I’m predicting actually the worst outcome over the next two years which takes us to 2012 with higher gasoline prices,” he said.

Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst with Oil Price Information Service says Americans will see gasoline prices hit the $5 a gallon mark in the next decade, but not by 2012.

“That wolf is out there and it’s going to be at the door…I agree with him that we’ll see those numbers at some point this decade but not yet.” Kloza said.

Gasoline prices have been steadily rising. Last week, gas prices crossed the $3 mark for the first time since October 2008. According to AAA figures, prices are up 4% from a month ago and 16% from the $2.585 average a year ago.

Read the entire original story.



Fuelishness! Feed: Hummer now “Green” for Japan; Diesel Engine Biofuel Advances; Dolphin Wins Eco-Driving Challenge; Fuel Efficiency VS. The Tax Man in Washington State

  • In Japan, the Hummer Is Now Officially Green — Starting this week, Japanese buyers of the hulking power machines from General Motors — which come with a 5.3-liter, 300 horsepower engine and roar to 60 miles per hour in eight seconds — receive a 250,000 yen ($2,780) subsidy under Japan’s new, looser fuel-efficiency standards for imported cars.
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  • Researchers develop “smart” diesel engine that runs on biofuel blend — Researchers from Cummings and Purdue University claim to have found a way to improve fuel efficiency in diesel engines that run on biodiesel fuel while cutting emission levels. The process involves an advanced “closed-loop control” approach for preventing diesel engines from emitting greater amounts of smog-causing nitrogen oxides when running on biodiesel fuels.
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  • Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne wins Audi fuel-efficiency driving challenge — The Audi Efficiency Challenge was designed to showcase the mileage and performance possibilities that Audi TDI clean diesel technology provides in real-world driving conditions.
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  • Fuel-efficient cars affecting Washington gas tax — Automobiles are more fuel-efficient, people are driving less and, increasingly, they are driving automobiles that aren’t powered by petroleum at all…”All of those things add up to the fact that we aren’t going to rely on the gas tax as being the mainstay of the future if we want to maintain, preserve and improve our transportation system,” said Paula Hammond, the state’s transportation secretary.


Gas Prices Steadily Climb Again – What Have We Done To Stop It?

Take a look at this graph of average gas prices courtesy of GasBuddy.com and you’ll see that prices continue to rebound from the “crash” of 2008… which shouldn’t be a shock to anyone.


Not much has changed as far as our “oil addiction” since the “crash”. Looking back, it seems that Cash for Clunkers was the only national attempt at dealing with oil’s monopoly since the collapse, and the merits of that program as an energy policy are laughable.

It took a global economic collapse to undercut the oil gouging, something we can not afford to repeat. (I continue to assert that the uncertainty of affordable fuels contributed to the economic tsunami that brought world markets to their knees that summer.)

What are we going to do to shift oil from a strategic political and economic weapon to just “another” commodity that must compete with alternative sources?

1. I’ve long been a proponent of Flex-Fuel vehicles, since they offer the simple option to use purely petroleum based gasoline or alternative alcohol-blended (up to 85%) gasoline replacement fuels. Manufacturers “promised” to add Flex-Fuel capabilities into much of their fleets by 2010, yet most only add the systems to the most inefficient models, taking “credit” for making their fleet more efficient instead. Having Flex-Fuel vehicles on the road in great numbers will be an incentive for stations to carry more alcohol-blends, and at the same time allow motorists to travel far and wide without worry that they won’t find a filling station specific to their vehicle while the network of supply is created by the opportunity to serve this demand.

2. Small efficient diesel engines are hot sellers in Europe – 50% of all new car sales across the pond are diesels. Why? Because they are clean, quiet, powerful, last a long time, and get upwards of 65 to 80 MPG every day of the week. Plus you can fuel them with bio-diesel, and reduce the amount of petroleum based diesel fuel. Again, you can travel far and wide, taking advantage of bio-diesel when available – an incentive for stations to carry the product. Since bio-diesel is made closer to home, distribution is cheaper, jobs are created locally, and competition controls costs.

3. Hybrids are great technology for getting slightly better mileage from a gallon of gas – but they are all still 100% petroleum-dependent. Flex-Fuel Electric or Diesel Electric hybrids would allow motorists to offset even more of their oil addiction to alternatives, not just kick the can down the road a little further.

4. 100% electric vehicles are still not a replacement for the family car in most cases. High costs, limited range, and long recharging times limit options and create a situation where drivers must change habits (and hardware) to participate. Plus there is the battery problem, making exotic metal ore addiction the replacement for oil addiction.

5. Conservation (aka: eco-driving) is first-aid remedy immediately available for free (better than free when you consider the money savings) available to everyone right now. With modest changes to your driving habits, you can increase your fuel mileage 5% to over 25% no matter what you prefer to drive (including Hummers and Hybrids). And while “ecodriving” sounds like “hypermiling” to some people, in fact eco-driving is easy, courteous, and safer driving. It does require you to pay attention to operating your car (shouldn’t you be?), but relieves you from the urge to compete against those other drivers around you, and instead compete against the gas pump.

In the end, as we approach the future still addicted to oil we limit our geopolitical power and remain at the mercy of markets we do not have much control over politically. We have been at war for years thanks to oil, with no end in sight. While our planets poorest nations are prime real-estate for several bio-fuel industries that could lead them from poverty to prosperity, the “powers that be” lobby and maneuver to protect their monopoly on your mobility.

What are you doing to make progress? What do you see as our future?



Fuelishness! Feed: Hard to recoup on EV; DOE grants for fuel efficiency programs; Gasoline zips to $3 again; Diesel fuel spike causing trucking trouble

  • Study: Buyers unlikely to recoup extra cost of electric vehicles — As automakers aggressively pursue electric vehicles, a study released today shows the cost targets behind the plans are unlikely to be achieved, making it hard for consumers to recoup the extra cost of buying electric.
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  • Massive DOE grant program aims to boost truck fuel economy — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is spreading $187 million in grants around the truck manufacturing industry to significantly improve fuel efficiency for heavy- and light-duty trucks, all while maintaining current exhaust emission curbs. “Improving the fuel efficiency of heavy trucks can make significant contributions to reducing America’s oil consumption within a short timeframe,” DOE spokesperson Jen Stutsman told FleetOwner. “While heavy-duty vehicles make up only 4% of the vehicles on the road, they account for nearly 20% of the fuel consumed in the U.S.”
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  • Gasoline prices zip toward $3 mark — Gasoline prices on Monday continued their push toward $3 per gallon. The only question now is when? Prices have been jumping on the back of a strong oil market where the cost for a barrel has spiked 20 percent in the past month on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
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  • Trucks at Work Blog – Containing fuel costs — Diesel fuel prices are on a tear all of a sudden – not surprising, given the recent deep freeze across the U.S. Diesel, as we all know, is made from the same petroleum distillate as home heating oil, so when the temperature plummets (like it’s doing now), refineries start cranking out more heating oil at the expense of diesel. Thus, you get a crimp in supply even as demand remains the same – thus, a shortage, and thus (tah-dah!) price increases at the pump.


87 mpg while driving a Ford Focus – But you still can’t buy one in the U.S.

Source: Independent.ie

PUTTING economy driving into practise was the aim of a group of drivers who took part in a Wexford to Dublin charity challenge. The Charity Eco-Drive Challenge was won by a driver who achieved a fuel economy figure of 87 mpg while driving a Ford Focus 1.6 TDCi Style.

Organised in December by Ger Boland and Enda Newport from Ford dealer Boland’s of Ferrybank, Wexford, the Charity Eco-Drive Challenge saw six drivers tasked with driving from Wexford to Dublin (Stillorgan Park Hotel) and back to Wexford using as little fuel as possible.

Each driver’s fuel consumption was analysed and from the six drivers, Michael Forde of Curracloe, Co Wexford, came out on top with the most economic result of 87 mpg for the round trip. Among the six participants, the range of fuel consumption figures achieved went from Michael’s 87 mpg to 64 mpg.

To ensure fair play, each of the six participants drove the same route in identical Focus 1.6 TDCi models of the same age and similar mileage. The winning driver was given the option of nominating a charity to receive a donation of €1,000. Michael nominated the Wexford Women’s Refuge to receive an early Christmas present.

Speaking about his strategy for the challenge, Michael Forde said: “I wasn’t too concerned about maintaining a steady speed, the secret to eco-driving is engine revs.

“So long as I could keep the engine revs in the range of approximately 1500 to 1800, I knew that I would end up with a very respectable fuel consumption figure.”

Michael also highlighted tyre pressure as being another important element: “Most motorists don’t realise it but incorrect pressure settings mean more fuel used.”

The Ford Focus 1.6 TDCi Style with alloy wheels, air conditioning, fog lights and Bluetooth, is available for around €21,750.

Once again a modern factory-built diesel-powered automobile has achieved astonishing fuel efficiency numbers in a driving competition. This isn’t futuristic technology that is “just around the corner” or “not yet cost effective”, these are current versions of diesel-powered cars that roll off of assembly lines in other parts of the world every day – and are affordable to ordinary people.

So, why are we in the US not yet able to buy these ultra-efficient little diesel-powered cars (Ford Focus ECOnic, Mini-D) that are “old news” in other parts of the world (as of 2007 about 50% of new cars sold in Europe have diesel engines) and then choose to run them on modern bio-diesel fuels that are slowly coming to market?

Embracing modern diesel engine technology also avoids the chicken-and-egg problem that other alternative fuels suffer from… US-based drivers can fuel their zippy and efficient little diesel-powered cars and light trucks, easily getting better than 60 MPG every day on petroleum-based diesel, then get even “greener” when the bio-varieties gain investment and availability (thanks to the greater number of vehicles on the road that can consume their products).

Or you can brew your own bio-diesel – or buy from a local bio-diesel producer – more on that later…

AS an aside, Rudolph Diesel, the man who invented the engine design that still bears his name “was also a well-respected thermal engineer and a social theorist. Diesel’s inventions have three points in common: they relate to heat transfer by natural physical processes or laws; they involve markedly creative mechanical design; and they were initially motivated by the inventor’s concept of sociological needs. Rudolf Diesel originally conceived the diesel engine to enable independent craftsmen and artisans to compete with industry.”

Diesel was a brilliant inventor and understood exactly how competitive his engine would become, but did he realize that the industries his engine would “threaten” a hundred years later would be the oil industry and the tax man?



MINI Cooper D Sets New Zealand Fuel Economy Record Of 3.5 l/100km (67.2 MPG)

Source: The Motor Report

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A MINI Cooper D (diesel) – piloted by trained ecodrivers Mark Whittaker and Paul Owen – has just set a new record for fuel efficient driving, by driving 2000 km on just over 72 liters (19 US gallons) of diesel fuel – achieving 3.5 l/100km (just over 67 MPG) average for that trip.

Mark Whittaker said the aim of the exercise was to highlight the potential for cutting New Zealand’s transport related emissions at little or no extra cost.

“In setting this record we are demonstrating that everyone can contribute to reducing emissions by choosing a fuel efficient car and employing simple ecodriving techniques,” Mr Whittaker said.

While Whittaker and Owen had originally targeted an average of 3.0 l/100km, the final 3.5 l/100km figure bested the country’s other top fuel miser – the third generation Toyota Prius – with which the Cooper D shares an official fuel economy of 3.9 l/100km.

The MINI Cooper D sports a fuel efficient and spunky small clean diesel engine and state-of-the-art start/stop technology similar to the new Ford Focus ECOnic we profiled a few days ago.

The Cooper D’s figures are thanks to a host of technological innovations borrowed from parent company BMW (including a start-stop system and a thrifty diesel engine from PSA).

BMW Group New Zealand Managing Director, Mark Gilbert said the fuel economy record proves how far diesel technology has come.

“The MINI has proven that new, small clean diesel engines have an important part to play in improving the fuel economy of the New Zealand vehicle fleet,” said Mr Gilbert.

“And the other clear message from this exercise is that it is not only what you drive, but how you drive, that counts,” he said. (Emphasis added)

That last bit sounds familiar! We certainly agree.

The bad news is that although it was mentioned last February that MINI was considering making the Cooper D available in the US, it has yet to become a reality according to our local MINI dealer. A message to MINI USA about the future availability of the “D” here in the US is awaiting reply – I’ll update you should we hear back. (If you’ve seen a “firm” scheduled availability date, please let me know.)

The future availability of the Ford Focus ECOnic diesel is also yet to be announced. In the past I mentioned my experience driving the SEAT with a small clean diesel a few years ago in Estonia… for now, you’ll still need to cross the pond to have this much fun driving at over 65 miles per gallon.



New Ford Focus Gets 71MPG – Only in Europe

Five years ago I visited family in Estonia, a country still digging out from decades of Soviet domination after World War Two. Estonia is an amazingly beautiful country full of “old world” charm and wonderful people. My cousin, who built heavy robotic equipment for the lumber industry , drove a SEAT hatchback with a small, quiet, and clean diesel engine that had tons of torque, ran on bio-diesel (available in most towns), and got better than 65 miles per gallon regularly. I was astonished.

We drove that spunky car all over the country, into Latvia, with the whole family, sometimes towing his little Russian-era boat. It was a joy to drive, and when we passed a field of soybean my cousin would smile at me and point, saying we were driving on sunshine – converted to oil in those plants. He said proudly “We are all green in Estonia. I am a green man.”

I wondered why I couldn’t buy a car like that back home in America.

Consider the new Ford Focus (available in Europe) with a little diesel engine, and upgraded starter, alternator, battery package that support their improved ECOnic start/stop technology – similar to a golf cart, the engine stops when the car is idle for a few seconds, and springs back to life when you press the accelerator to move ahead.

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As with any Focus it is delightfully balanced and comfortable and the stop/start process in traffic is by no means intrusive or unduly noisy. In fact it is one of the better versions of the current crop of on/off engines.

The starter motor has been beefed up to cope with the additional use while developments have been made to the alternator to reduce friction and lessen the workload on the engine.

To improve fuel consumption further, kinetic energy built up as the car goes along is captured and used to recharge one of the two batteries which power the likes of the air conditioning or entertainment systems when the engine is off.

NOTE: While it’s generally a good idea to turn off your engine and reduce idling when not in traffic, we do NOT recommend turning your car off while in traffic – hybrids and stop/start equipped cars are designed to do this safely and automatically. Turning your car off (turning off the “ignition”) while in traffic is illegal in most places and puts you at risk if you need to move quickly to avoid a hazard.

The Focus also takes “driver feedback” to another level, with an on-board “eco driving coach” that will analyze driving habits and help encourage the driver to be more efficient.

On the road, the car monitors the driver’s technique examining gear changes, the smoothness of steering and use of speed.

The results are displayed on the instrument panel and highlight areas were improvements can be made. It also praises good eco-driving.

Eco-driver feedback systems are becoming more and more popular. FuelClinic is a type of feedback system, but isn’t real-time and doesn’t travel along with you in the car. Our new CarChip Pro does travel with you, providing real-time feedback when you accelerate too quickly, brake too aggressively, or exceed a pre-set speed limit. Other devices like the Rover from Cartasite provide similar feedback, and communicate wirelessly.

These uber-efficient diesels are not easily available in the US (you’ll need to look to Volkswagen if you want a diesel car here), nor is a ready supply of bio-diesel at pumps in many places – a classic chicken-and-egg dilemma.

Would you buy a small diesel-powered vehicle like the Focus mentioned? What if you could have your favorite make, manufacturer, and body style – but with a little-diesel option?



Fuelishness! Feed: Oil prices cloud recovery; When the Clunker Is Greener; Chevy Volt to Get 230 MPG; A 5-Stroke Engine; Diesel as alternative fuel in US

  • When the Clunker Is Greener – Policies that encourage purchases of energy-efficient products may also increase, rather than decrease, energy use by confusing efficiency with consumption.
     
  • Chevy Volt to Get 230 Miles per Gallon in the City, GM Says – If the figure is confirmed by the EPA, which does the tests for the mileage posted on new car door stickers, the Volt would be the first car to exceed triple-digit gas mileage, Posawatz said. 
     
  • Ilmor Engineering Creates a 5-Stroke Engine – The engine operates by using low- and high-pressure cylinders and a similar setup for the camshafts. The two high-pressure cylinders operate as a conventional 4-stroke engine does and alternately exhaust into the third, low-pressure cylinder, where the burnt gases perform more work.  
     
  • Diesel play catch up in alternative fuel race with help of German automakers – With a fuel efficiency boost that some claim can approach 40 percent over gas-powered counterparts, diesel is at least starting to make more and more sense from a cost perspective to the consumer.


Fuelishness! Feed: $700B Gains from Energy Efficiency; Bio-Engineering Algea; Cash for Clunkers FAIL; Cellphone Use as Deadly as Drunk Driving; Merits of a Gasoline-Diesel ‘Cocktail’



Case Study: John’s Jetta

A few weeks ago Kathy called me and told me she needed a “case study” to add to the new press kit she was developing  – something that illustrated the benefits of using FuelClinic.com from a member’s perspective.

I went to the database and back to my feedback emails, and found a few members who were obviously using the system regularly, were interested enough to communicate with me about the site and ideas or problems they had, and might possibly want to participate in a case study. I sent a few requests, received a few responses, including one from John Guercio.

From logs and emails I knew John had been using the system a long time, and when I asked him if he’d be interested in talking with Kathy he said “sure”. While I knew he was a “regular”, and I had assumed he was benefiting from using the site, I didn’t have any idea how he had been using the system – pushing it to it’s limits, and saving himself thousands of dollars.

Here’s how it starts:

John was used to receiving an occasional $2,000 expense check for his mileage. But when his company put him on a strict $750 a month expense plan, John knew it was time to take control of his MPGs and start paying better attention to the pain he would soon being feeling at the pump.

To do this, he turned to FuelClinic.com, the Web’s premiere online fuel efficiency tracking and driver improvement resource. His main interest was in tracking his Jetta’s miles per gallon for work-related trips to determine whether or not the new stipend was helping him make money, or causing him to lose it.

Find out how well it worked out for John, how he was able to track his expenses, improve his fuel mileage, decide NOT to get that new car he was looking at, and saved thousands of dollars in taxes last year.

Read the rest of it online, or download the PDF version.

If you are interested in participating in future case studies, please send a note to me at feedback@fuelclinic.com – we are currently looking to create a case study detailing how a small business w/ a small fleet of vehicles has used FuelClinic.com in some way to save money, improve mileage, or track consumption.

Thanks John! Thanks Kathy!



Jetta TDI Meets Prius [Video]

May 20, 2009 · Filed Under Automotive Industry, Diesel, Hybrid Vehicles · Comment 

This is funny new commercial.

Popular Mechanics wrote:

The new era of clean diesel in America will officially be ushered in by the new VW Jetta TDi when it goes on sale in a few months. Powered by a 2.0-liter four-banger that produces 140 hp and 236 lb.-ft. of torque, it will be the first automobile to meet the world’s most stringent emission control standards, California’s Tier II, Bin 5.

I enjoyed driving a brand new diesel Seat around the beautiful country of Estonia in 2006. My Estonian cousin who’s car I was driving smiled as he pointed to a local blooming soy-bean farm and told me we are driving on sunshine. He fills his car with bio-diesel. He wondered why I didn’t do the same thing.

Clean diesels are a blast to drive. Like most diesels they have gobs of low-end torque that plants you in your seat, and since you can upshift as low as 1200 rpm you can take mechanical advantage of all that torque with quick up-shifts instead of revving out your fuel pump.

It’s not an answer to our oil addiction, and road taxes on diesel is pretty steep (meaning diesel is often more expensive than gasoline), it does offer you a way to get more mpg and enjoy the music of a finely tuned machine.



Fuelishness! Feed: Slippery Mercedes E-Class, Fuel-Efficient Indian SUV’s, Another Pay-Per-Mile Road Tax Scheme

  • New Mercedes E-Class Coupe couples low drag coefficient to efficient engines : Partnering the wind-cheating new shape of the E-Class Coupe, which replaces the outgoing CLK and joins the new E-Class sedan just unveiled a few months ago, is a range of fuel-sipping engines, including the new four-cylinder turbo-diesel E 250 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY, which offers more power and torque than the model it replaces while returning 17 percent better fuel economy (5.3 liters per 100 kilometers on the European combined cycle) and emitting 138 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer. Efficiency is also optimized by use of on-demand activation for the steering and fuel pumps, a dynamic alternator and tires with low rolling resistance, which join the roster of new driving and safety systems you can read about in the press release after the jump. See more photos of the new E-Class Coupe in the gallery below.
     
  • Indian Automaker Sees U.S. Market As Ready For Its 30 MPG Diesel Pickups and SUVs : Mahindra & Mahindra, an Indian manufacturer specializing in pick-ups and SUVs, believes that what works with value-conscious Indian car buyers will translate to American consumers weary of gas guzzlers but not quite ready to kick their SUV habits… A key part of the trucks’ allure will be high fuel-efficiency figures. Power will come from a 2.2-liter common rail four-cylinder diesel engine, fitted to a six-speed automatic transmission.  Mahindra representatives say the engine and transmission combination will deliver a fuel economy average of at least 30 mpg in combined city and highway driving.
     
  • Massachusetts Joins States Contemplating Pay-Per-Mile Road Tax Plans : As a matter of national policy we are encouraging people to jettison their gas-guzzlers and seek out the most efficient cars and trucks they can. We want plug-in hybrids and electric cars that use no oil at all. Taxing gasoline rewards and thus encourages purchases of fuel-efficient vehicles; charging by the mile doesn’t. The driver of a 15-miles-per-gallon Jeep Grand Cherokee pays the same for a 100 miles trip as the driver of a 48-mpg Prius, even though the Jeep uses more than three times as much fuel and, as a heavier vehicle, does more damage to the road surface. 


Detroit Auto Show: Audi Says 45-MPG A3 Diesel Hatchback Is Coming to the U.S.

January 12, 2009 · Filed Under Automotive Industry, Bio-Diesel, Diesel, FuelClinic, Fuelishness! · Comment 

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From: Green Car Advisor

Audi today announced that its 2010 A3 2.0-liter TDI diesel hatchback will appear in dealer showrooms across the U.S. starting early next year.

The low-emissions, fuel-efficient car won’t be significantly different from the 2009 version, which Audi included in a herd of clean-diesel vehicles it drove across the land of the free last year.

The A3 got the best fuel economy of the lot, averaging slightly more than 45 miles per gallon over 4,000-plus miles.

Audi said it is targeting the Toyota Prius and the Honda Insight, both of which are hybrids. Some of the A3’s prospective buyers will also likely be considering the Mini Cooper and Volvo C30.

The A3’s powertrain will include a 140-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder diesel engine with a six-speed automatic transmission. Pricing of the front-wheel-drive vehicle won’t be announced until much later this year.

Audi said standard features will include hill-hold assist, Sirius Satellite Radio, leather seating surfaces, leather steering wheel and auxiliary audio input. Audi Magnetic Ride will be optional.



“The credibility of OPEC is at stake”

October 20, 2006 · Filed Under Diesel, Gasoline, Oil Industry, Oil Refining · Comment 

The recent “plunge” in oil prices since the end of summer has motivated OPEC to call for a cut in members oil production by 4.3% – restricting output to 26.3 million barrels-per-day. This is in effort to halt the fall in price, and “re-stabilize” the market.

From Reuters 

OPEC surprises with deeper oil cut 

OPEC agreed on Friday to curb its output by 1.2 million barrels per day, its first cut for more than two years, to halt a precipitous fall in prices.

The reduction, amounting to 4.3 percent of OPEC’s September production, was deeper than anticipated and the biggest since January 2002. It trims OPEC output to 26.3 million bpd from November 1.

“The credibility of OPEC is at stake,” Algerian Energy and Mines Minister Chakib Khelil told Reuters before the meeting that began Thursday and ended in the early hours of Friday. 

OPEC believes that the “right price” for a barrel of oil is $55 to $60 USD – which is still 3 times to cost we paid in January 2002.



Small, Clean, Powerful Diesel Engines

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From: Edmunds.com 

Honda Motors unveiled its latest development in diesel technology on September 25, putting the carmaker well ahead of the pack in the race to bring clean diesel vehicles to market. Its next-generation diesel engine uses a catalytic converter requiring no additives of any kind and will run cleaner through its new design…

…What sets Honda’s new technology apart is that its catalytic converter requires no outside chemicals whatsoever. As the exhaust hits the first layer of the unit, a small amount of NOx is converted to ammonia, which is then absorbed by a second layer. The second layer, now ammonia rich, then reacts with the remaining NOx and spits it out as harmless nitrogen…

…Honda designed the converter for use in its 2.2 iCTDi diesel engine, which has garnered widespread attention since its debut in the current model European Accord. The engine, which is remarkably quiet, is also much cleaner than most diesels right out of the gate. Thanks to a redesigned combustion chamber, a reduction in fuel injection time and other efficiency improvements, the engine already emits significantly less NOx. Add on the new technology the converter affords, and clean diesel could be right around the corner.

While European drivers may be seeing this technology sooner than we will, Honda estimates that their diesel vehicles will start hitting our shores in about three years. Couple this with their recent announcement concerning future diesel hybrid vehicles, and it looks as if Honda is pulling to the head of the clean diesel pack.

Read the whole thing…



Honda Announces Cleaner Diesel Car Engine

September 27, 2006 · Filed Under Automotive Industry, Diesel, Fuels, Related News · Comment 

I’ve always appreciated Honda’s quality and economy – and within 3 years there will be a new Honda powertrain available in the US that meets stringent emission standards by adding a revolutionary new catalytic converter to an already acclaimed diesel system.

Honda designed the catalytic converter for use with its 2.2 i-CTDi diesel engine, which has earned widespread praise for quiet, clean operation and dynamic performance since its introduction in 2003 on the European Accord model. By further advancing combustion control, the 2.2 i-CTDi delivers cleaner exhaust to the NOx catalytic converter. Honda achieved this by optimising the combustion chamber configuration, reducing fuel injection time with a 2,000-bar common rail injection system and boosting the efficiency of the EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) system. Thanks to these improvements, Honda has reduced the amount of NOx and soot normally found in engine exhaust, while increasing power output.

Along with developing superior technology for cleaning exhaust gas, Honda plans to address other technical challenges in developing clean diesel engines, such as handling diesel fuels with different cetane numbers and meeting U.S. On-Board Diagnostic System requirements. Honda plans to introduce its next-generation diesel engine in the U.S. within three years.

Read more…



What’s in a Barrel of Oil?

September 22, 2006 · Filed Under Diesel, Fuels, Gasoline, Governments, Natural Gas, Oil Industry, Oil Refining · Comment 

Ever wonder what exactly is in a barrel of oil?

Product Percent of Total

  • Finished Motor Gasoline 51.4%
  • Distillate Fuel Oil 15.3%
  • Jet Fuel 12.6%
  • Still Gas 5.4%
  • Marketable Coke 5.0% 
  • Residual Fuel Oil 3.3%
  • Liquefied Refinery Gas 2.8%
  • Asphalt and Road Oil 1.9%
  • Other Refined Products 1.5%
  • Lubricants 0.9%

One barrel contains 42 gallons of crude oil. The total volume of products made from crude oil based origins is 48.43 gallons on average – 6.43 gallons greater than the original 42 gallons of crude oil. This represents a “processing gain” due to the additional other petroleum products such as alkylates are added to the refining process to create the final products.

Additionally, California gasoline contains approximately 5.7 percent by volume of ethanol, a non-petroleum-based additive that brings the total processing gain to 7.59 gallons (or 49.59 total gallons).

There’s a nice chart here…



Won’t Return to Gas-Guzzling Habits

September 19, 2006 · Filed Under Diesel, Eco-Driving, Gasoline, Related News · Comment 

A recent article from America’s cheese-capitol indicates that the sustained high gas prices of this spring and summer have changed the gas-guzzling habits of survey respondents, and that the recent drop in gasoline prices will not change them back. Let’s hope there are similar mid-west sensibilities from the right coast to the left coast.

From Wisconsin State Journal
Survey: Driving won’t climb as gas prices fall

MARV BALOUSEK

…After more than a year of high prices driven by a range of factors – increased demand, last year’s hurricanes and global instability – gasoline has plunged in recent weeks, selling for $2.51 a gallon at some Madison-area stations. And analysts say prices could drop further, thanks to the end of the summer driving season and stable supply. Natural gas prices also have declined, setting the stage for decreased energy spending for consumers in the coming months.

But area drivers say they haven’t forgotten the summer’s high prices, which saw gasoline approach $3.20 a gallon in Madison, and they say aren’t returning to their old gas-guzzling ways. That’s because many are aware prices could easily go back up…

…Some analysts are forecasting that gas prices will continue to decline, said Pam Moen of AAA Wisconsin. But she said consumers are smart to be wary.”People are relieved and we should be thankful these prices have finally come down,” she said. “But it’s important to understand that nothing really has changed. Until we address issues with our national energy infrastructure, we are going to be vulnerable to the kind of volatility and extreme pricing we’ve seen in the past year.”

Gas prices accelerated the boom in hybrid cars and now play a bigger role in consumer choices, said Neeraj Arora, a UW-Madison professor of marketing research.

“People are going to reflect back on the prices that have changed over the last month or two more than they did three or four years ago,” he said. “My guess is it’s going to become a bigger factor than it has in the past in making a consumer decision on which (vehicle) brand they should buy.”

Jeff Beddow of the National Automobile Dealers Association said it took a long stretch of higher gas prices before sales of less fuel efficient vehicles dropped, and he doesn’t see buyers quickly coming back to gas-guzzlers.

“Typically, changes in consumer buying habits related to gas prices come after a sustained period of time at either a high or low price level,” he said…

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$1.15 per gallon?

September 14, 2006 · Filed Under Diesel, Eco-Driving, Gasoline, Oil Industry, Oil Refining, Related News · 1 Comment 

Wow… wondering if I should go buy that Escalade I’ve been wanting… maybe some 55 gallon drums…

From The Seattle Times: Business & Technology

Analyst predicts plunge in gas prices

By Kevin G. Hall
September 14, 2006

WASHINGTON — The recent sharp drop in the global price of crude oil could mark the start of a massive sell-off that returns gasoline prices to lows not seen since the late 1990s — perhaps as low as $1.15 a gallon.

“All the hurricane flags are flying” in oil markets, said Philip Verleger, a noted energy consultant who was a lone voice several years ago in warning that oil prices would soar. Now, he says, they appear to be poised for a dramatic plunge.

Crude-oil prices have fallen about $14, or roughly 17 percent, from their July 14 peak of $78.40. After falling seven straight days, they rose slightly Wednesday in trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, to $63.97, partly in reaction to a government report showing fuel inventories a bit lower than expected. But the overall price drop is expected to continue, and prices could fall much more in the weeks and months ahead…

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Research Finds Biodiesel Performs Well in Harsh Environments

September 14, 2006 · Filed Under Alternative Fuels, Diesel, Governments, Related News · Comment 

Here’s the take-away for the attention challenged:

“Yellowstone National Park, serving as the soy biodiesel testing ground for the National Park Service, has a pickup truck that is still running on 100% biodiesel after 10 years and 181,000 miles in this high-altitude extreme environment.”

From Farm Futures
September 13, 2006
Soy biodiesel has stood up to the test of time and harsh environment conditions, according to decade-long look at use in national parks including Yellowstone and Grand Teton.

In 1995 Yellowstone National Park began serving as the soy biodiesel testing ground for the National Park Service. The park boasts over 300 pieces of machinery operating on soy biodiesel, the centerpieces being the park’s well-known yellow buses and a 1995 Dodge pickup. Yellowstone’s trademark yellow tour buses have evolved into a high tech, biodiesel-powered riding experience including on-board electronic and communications gear. The pickup has been running on 100% biodiesel for over 10 years and 181,000 miles. This is no small feat, with an elevation of 6,241 ft., the mountainous region surrounding the park experiences a variety of extreme weather throughout the year, the United Soybean Board says…

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Made in USA: Soy-based Biodiesel

September 13, 2006 · Filed Under Alternative Fuels, Diesel, Fuels · Comment 

A fledgling fuel company, Milagro Biofuels of Memphis LLC, has actually started processing soy bean oil into diesel fuel, in a “micro-brew” facility nestled in a historic building in Memphis.

While they are getting interest in their products from around the country, they expect to sell most of their production locally, providing their community with a locally brewed and renewable alternative fuel… cool!

The “micro-brew” facility will be followed up with more substantial production plants already in the works…

From Biodiesel Magazine

Memphis biodiesel plant begins production
by David Nillis
September 12, 2006

An idle cotton oil mill in a downtown redevelopment zone in Memphis, Tenn., is now home to a biodiesel producer. Milagro Biofuels of Memphis LLC produced its first biodiesel Sept. 11, according to President Diane Mulloy.

The 5 MMgy [ed: MMgy = “million gallons per year”] plant was expected to start-up in late August, but minor start-up glitches pushed production to this week. Mulloy said test batches have been conducted and samples sent to the U.S. EPA for certification. “I’m hoping that process is quick,” she told BiodieselMagazine.com. “We hope to sell biodiesel by the end of September.”

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Jeep Liberty Diesel w/ 21% better fuel economy

September 10, 2006 · Filed Under Alternative Fuels, Automotive Industry, Bio-Diesel, Diesel · 1 Comment 

What do you think of when you hear the word “diesel”? The newer diesel powerplants might surprise you if you thought of noisy trucks spewing black smoke. Using new technologies, diesel engines for smaller vehicles are efficient, quite, and powerful – and create the opportunity to use bio-diesel fuels to replace or compliment your use of petro-diesel.

Source: Green Car Congress

The 2005 Jeep Liberty CRD, equipped with a 2.8-liter, four-cylinder, turbo common-rail diesel engine, offers 21% better fuel economy compared to a comparable gasoline-powered Liberty (3.7-liter, V-6 engine).

VM Motori provides the engine, an enhanced version of the four-cylinder diesel engine currently offered on this vehicle in Europe. VM Motori is owned in part by Detroit Diesel, a DaimlerChrysler company. VM has been supplying the Chrysler Group diesel engines since 1992 for minivans and Jeep products sold in Europe.

The 2.8-liter CRD engine delivers 160 hp (120 kW) and 295 lb-ft (400 Nm) of torque at 1,800 rpm, with 22 mpg city, 26 mpg highway, for a combined EPA rating of 23 mpg.

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