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Old 12-20-2007, 12:23 PM   #15
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1- if Europe is any indication diesel is going to be the main fuel of the future, not the secondary fuel. 50% of their new car sales are now disel and is suppsoed to grow to 70% in the next ten tears. All petrol stations over there have almost as many diesle pumps as gasoline pumps now. So I suppose the same thing will happen here and diesel will be available everywhere. Also, the European refiners started the ultra low sulfur program many years ago so the cost of diesel fuel is now a little less than gasoline again.

2- I was never considering the cost of fuel when thinking about a diesel. I was thinking about the cost of torque. A gasoline engine's MPG falls off in proportion to the load being carried/towed. So does a diesel but the slope of the graph is shallow in comparison. An example: a 6 liter gasoline V8 may get 18mpg highway with no load and only 10 mpg highway pulling a 5000 lb trailer load. The same size diesel engine in the same size truck will get 18mpg hwy too. But pulling the same load it will get say 15 mpg highway. The bigger the load the greater the gap in millage between a gasoline and diesel truck. Also to consider is the driving comfort... there is soooo much torque available that you dont have to pay too much attention to shifting and RPM etc. Those guys just boggie along.

3- this works in reverse too. Since torque is my major concern (not necessarily horse power) then this opens up opportunities for smaller four and six cylinder turbo diesels to produce the same amount of torque as their big brother gasoline V8s. Most of the load carrying utility trucks in Europe are Ranger size four cylinder turbo diesels.

Anyway... I think the cost of torque will be dropping soon.... we'll see. But I don't think that Mahindra pickup will get anywhere near 50mpg.. it is a high performance engine... I suspect it could pull 3000lbs and get 25 maybe.. I don't know. But it will certainly out perform any gas V6/V8s

Ron
<span style="font-size:12pt;line-height:100%">Ron, excellent comments.



Recently I was at an RV dealer and discussion turned into engines. He just blasted diesels: smell badly, fuel is expensive, loud, shake and nobody is buying them anymore. I was just waiting for him to tell me that diesel spark plugs are also very expensive. After his sales pitch I said then I would only buy a diesel vehicle. I think that this negative sales buzz about diesels is normal. Vehicle price is a key driver impacting vehicle sale and one way to lower it is to go with gas.



Recently we were looking to sell my wife’s 04 VW Beetle TDI and were shocked how good a resale price in comparison to gas Beetle was (KBB.com). Over 20% advantage of TDI over gas. The $3000 advantage difference in resale compares well with $1000 diesel’s price penalty we paid in 04. In California the resale is even higher. The diesel fuel is 10% more expensive but gas mileage is 30-35% better. Gas mileage, resale or longevity makes economy math easy.


George.</span>

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Old 12-20-2007, 12:53 PM   #16
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Some observations from my crystal ball.

First up, 35+ mpg is very obtainable. I've had several cars that get better than 35 mpg, including Lynne's current '97 Toyota Corolla DX (36 mpg), my old '84 Honda Civic (38 mpg) and '92 Geo Metro (42 mpg), and there are several current model cars that get 35 mpg or better, including the Volkswagen Beetle Turbo Diesel that some people are using to pull a 13' trailer. Also remember that 35 MPG is the target average and not the minimum; there will be lots of vehicles that get less than 35MPG, many of which can easily tow a trailer. (Especially a fiberglass trailer!)

What the call to 35MPG really represents is a call for right-sizing the vehicles we drive. Consider the BMW Z4 Roadster Convertible and Dodge Intrepid SXT (and others), wich come with six-cylinder 255hp engines. That's more horsepower than a base-model Ford F-150 pickup truck with a rated tow capacity of 8000 pounds, and 2-1/2 times the horsepower of Lynne's 105hp Toyota Corolla! Way more power than anyone needs in a passenger vehicle.

How often do you see someone with a small family -- or even a single guy or gal -- driving something that makes the Titanic look petite? The Cadillac Escalade is not the worst offender in this category, but Lynne and I parked next to one while shopping last weekend, so it's on my mind. It gets 14 mpg, and I see a lot of Escalades, Excursions, Expeditions, Hummers and other super-size SUVs on the road with just one or two people inside.

Right now Ford is running ads about its Escape Hybrid SUV, which gets 34 mpg. True, the Hybrid Escape isn't recommended for towing (the gas-only version is limited to 1000lbs), but if all those single drivers who only use their bloated Escalade-like tanks to drive a couple of people around town drove an Escape Hybrid instead we'd see a huge jump in fleet average MPG.

That's what I think the new CAFE standards are all about: recognizing that there are vehicular extravagances we can no longer afford or allow. I think we could easily improve fleet efficiency -- without new technology or even going to hybrids -- by five and perhaps ten mpg just by right-sizing our vehicles. (Current CAFE standards require 25 mpg, but don't include SUVs, minivans, or light trucks. After taking these vehicles into the equation our fleet average is somewhere between 21 and 22 mpg.) Throw in hybrid and other new and yet-to-be-developed technologies and I think 35 MPG is a goal that we can not just meet, but easily surpass well before the 2020 deadline.

There are things we should not expect to see, like super-duty trucks that can tow 8000 lbs trailers that get 30 mpg. Mother nature has set down rules of the road that don't need policemen to enforce them. Tires, for example, will always have rolling friction that must be overcome by the application of engine power; indeed, a tire with no rolling friction would be pretty useless because it would spin freely instead of pushing against the road to make the car go. Newton's three basic laws will always require that more energy is required to move a big, heavy truck (and trailer) than a small, lighter one. The laws of thermodynamics will always place limits on the efficiency of the engines -- gas, diesel, or electric -- we use. And the energy required to overcome wind resistance as you speed up from 50 to 70 miles per hour will always double, so don't expect to be able to drive or tow at 70mph and get the same fuel efficiency as when you drive slower.

So what is reality? My guess is that we'll see Chevy Colorado-sized pickups that can tow 4000lbs and get 28-30 mpg by 2015, a 49-58% increase over current models. I think we could achieve that kind of MPG by combining hybrid technology with a traditional diesel or rotary gas engines using displacement-on-demand technology that deactivates (and disengages) cylinders that aren't required except when you're accelerating or climbing up a hill.

But what do I know. The crystal ball I use is an upside-down fish bowl with a HotWheels car inside.

--Peter
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Old 12-20-2007, 01:38 PM   #17
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This is all very interesting but nobody, in my opinion, has really mentioned the basic problem. I think it has to do with the American business model. Think about this for a moment, everything you buy has to be bigger and better than the previous version. A bigger house, a bigger car or SUV, a bigger truck, a bigger RV. A more expensive dinning room set, bedroom set, etc. It's ingrained in our society. The manufacturers and sales guys push it, television pushes it, advertising pushes. Why, because profits and sales commissions are based on selling price. You add to that the "keeping up with the Jones" syndrome things will go up in size and cost. What does this have to do with MPG? Energy usage. Bigger house requires more energy to build and maintain. Bigger vehicle requires more energy to run, etc., etc. Of course the energy providers like this because it's more profit for them. One big viscous circle going the wrong direction. A small change in MPG requirements are nothing compared to the overall problem.

A total change in direction and attitude needs to be made before inroads can be made into energy usage. I also think I'm preaching to the choir. Many here are moving to smaller rather than larger, although I bet that there's been more sales of the larger fiberglass trailers than few years ago. Example, Scamp started production of their 16' first, then the 5er and finally the 13' if I remember right. I know the 16' was first. What that tells me that the bigger is selling better than the smaller. So we still have a bit of a problem, but not as much as the 40' Class A guys.

Bottom line -- Energy usage has to be reduced, MPG is one way, but only one way and by itself won't help much.

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Old 12-20-2007, 05:57 PM   #18
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. . . I think it has to do with the American business model. Think about this for a moment, everything you buy has to be bigger and better than the previous version . . .
Yes, that's part of the problem, but I think it has less to do with business models than human nature. Simply put, it is harder to sell people on the idea that "less is more" than the idea that "bigger is better." I myself used to write a monthly magazine article about communications technology called "Bigger, Better, Faster . . ." That "bigger is better" seems almost self-evident to most people. Why else would "super-size" fries and drinks sell so well when we know those extra fat-laden, waistline-expanding, artery-hardening calories are bad for us? Convincing people that the better buy comes in a smaller package is hard sell even when we know better. Corporate America, Corporate Internacionale for that matter, is really just going with the flow and catering to a common human failing. The car industry calls it "giving consumers what they're asking for."

This tendency is not going to go away anytime soon. Individuals will always reach for the bigger piece of the pie and forget the big-picture consequences that may occur somewhere down the road. Unless the threat is right in front of us, we ignore it, just as first-time smokers ignore the known risk of addiction leading to heart disease, cancer, and just plain smelling like an ash tray. That's why "market based" solutions don't work, that's why we desperately need regulations like the one that was just signed into law.

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Old 12-20-2007, 06:37 PM   #19
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"Full size" pickup trucks tend to be offered with a range of possibility for wheelbase; choose a cab, choose a box, and get the resulting wheelbase... with some limitations. Compact trucks, on the other hand, tend to be offered with a single wheelbase: choose a cab, and that determines how much is left for the box (the Ranger is the exception). In both cases, modern trucks tend to have the same rear overhang (axle to bumper) regardless of cab and box choice, and SUV variants are on shorter wheelbases than the pickups.

Mahindra Truck and SUV specs from Global Vehicles USA

At first glance it looked to me like the Mahindra followed the compact-truck pattern (one wheelbase for all pickup variants), and in fact it does. The SUV is significantly shorter.

My concern is that the Mahindra's wheelbase looks too short, or the overhang too long. At 119.7", the wheelbase is
  • the same as my Sienna minivan
  • longer than a regular-cab Ranger or regular-cab Colorado
  • shorter than a Super Cab Ranger, Extended or Crew cab Colorado, any Tacoma, or any Frontier
To get a substantial box length with this wheelbase, the rear overhang appears to be quite long (it is not specified by Global Vehicles). Both short wheelbase and long overhang are bad for towing; the ratio between the two is perhaps the most suitable single measure. It would be interesting to get a real spec for the overhang.
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Old 12-20-2007, 06:42 PM   #20
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Although the payload of this truck is supposed to be high for the size, the diesel engine is the reason for all of the attention. It particularly caught my attention at first because some sources (including a magazine, which I think was Truck Trend) quoted a displacement of 2.2 L and unusually high power output for an engine of that size; since that was incorrect, and the real specs are unavailable, there's no reason to believe that there will be anything interesting about the engine.

Since every manufacturer of small pickups currently offered in North America could sell them with a small diesel (supplied by their European or Asian divisions or suppliers), I don't see why - as a buyer - I would want to deal with new entry in the market, or why they would be successful. Maybe they think they've found their niche, filling a so far unserviced market.
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Old 12-20-2007, 06:46 PM   #21
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I find the technology in this vehicle to be a strange mix. On one hand, representatives of the manufacturer have insisted that this is a modern product, and indeed it has features such as four-wheel disk brakes, 6-speed automatic transmission, electronic stability control, and even (almost unique in pickups) a multi-link coil-spring rear suspension; on the other hand, it has torsion bars for springs in the front, a design abandoned in light trucks by essentially everyone else.
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Old 12-20-2007, 06:55 PM   #22
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This is all very interesting but nobody, in my opinion, has really mentioned the basic problem. I think it has to do with the American business model. Think about this for a moment, everything you buy has to be bigger and better than the previous version. A bigger house, a bigger car or SUV, a bigger truck, a bigger RV. A more expensive dinning room set, bedroom set, etc. It's ingrained in our society. The manufacturers and sales guys push it, television pushes it, advertising pushes. Why, because profits and sales commissions are based on selling price. You add to that the "keeping up with the Jones" syndrome things will go up in size and cost. What does this have to do with MPG? Energy usage. Bigger house requires more energy to build and maintain. Bigger vehicle requires more energy to run, etc., etc. Of course the energy providers like this because it's more profit for them. One big viscous circle going the wrong direction. A small change in MPG requirements are nothing compared to the overall problem.

A total change in direction and attitude needs to be made before inroads can be made into energy usage. I also think I'm preaching to the choir. Many here are moving to smaller rather than larger, although I bet that there's been more sales of the larger fiberglass trailers than few years ago. Example, Scamp started production of their 16' first, then the 5er and finally the 13' if I remember right. I know the 16' was first. What that tells me that the bigger is selling better than the smaller. So we still have a bit of a problem, but not as much as the 40' Class A guys.

Bottom line -- Energy usage has to be reduced, MPG is one way, but only one way and by itself won't help much.
I agree, bigger is easier to sell if social limits have weak influence. We can ask ourselves; why “bigger is better” doesn’t sell in Europe as well as in US? An answer could relate to the high degree of individualism in US. Social limits don’t drive society with high degree of individualism. The right of an individual to drive the Hummer is having money; it is not that someone else is risking their life for it. A good example for individualism in US is a slower traffic in a fast highway lane. My father in-law once said; I am paying taxes and have right to be in this lane. Try it in Germany.

George.

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Old 12-20-2007, 07:23 PM   #23
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I also had a Kubota tractor while living in Va. I had looked at the Mahindra but the design and workmanship didn't seem to be there and the engine sounded like a thrashing machine. They also had a Belarus tractor that looked a lot like it and looked to be top heavy, there are diesels and there are diesels and I will hold my opinion on the Mahindra until you guys give us a reliability report on them.
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Old 12-20-2007, 07:28 PM   #24
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I also had a Kubota tractor while living in Va. I had looked at the Mahindra but the design and workmanship didn't seem to be there and the engine sounded like a thrashing machine. They also had a Belarus tractor that looked a lot like it and looked to be top heavy, there are diesels and there are diesels and I will hold my opinion on the Mahindra until you guys give us a reliability report on them.
[b]NO WAY! <span style="font-size:24pt;line-height:100%">YOU BUY ONE FIRST!!!!</span>



I wish I had enough faith in Americans to do the right thing by all this... stepping down to smaller cars and better gas millage. But I am pretty sure the only thing that will drive this new paradigm is the cost of fuel. In that sense I am just as much an environmentalist as the next guy if I have to pay$5/gal




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Old 12-20-2007, 08:20 PM   #25
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Yes, that's part of the problem, but I think it has less to do with business models than human nature. Simply put, it is harder to sell people on the idea that "less is more" than the idea that "bigger is better." I myself used to write a monthly magazine article about communications technology called "Bigger, Better, Faster . . ." That "bigger is better" seems almost self-evident to most people. Why else would "super-size" fries and drinks sell so well when we know those extra fat-laden, waistline-expanding, artery-hardening calories are bad for us? Convincing people that the better buy comes in a smaller package is hard sell even when we know better. Corporate America, Corporate Internationale for that matter, is really just going with the flow and catering to a common human failing. The car industry calls it "giving consumers what they're asking for."
you had me right up the that last part... it's not about giving consumers what they want... corporate advertising has become about convincing consumers of what they want... they create the demand for products we don't need by making it an alluring, powerful, desire... & convincing us that what we buy becomes an extension our personality, of how we see ourselves...
i don't need to keep up with the joneses... i am a jones...
anyway, back on topic...
--- steven
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Old 12-20-2007, 10:02 PM   #26
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i don't need to keep up with the joneses... i am a jones...
I think I'll change my name! Then as I downsize and build my strawbale house with solar and recycled stuff then maybe people will keep up (down?) with me, eh?!

I like it!

Paula
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Old 12-21-2007, 02:30 AM   #27
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corporate advertising has become about convincing consumers of what they want... they create the demand for products we don't need by making it an alluring, powerful, desire... & convincing us that what we buy becomes an extension our personality, of how we see ourselves...
Well, yes and no. There are two immutable principals at work here, one is that car companies are in the business of outselling the competition. The other is people have this innate, perhaps even genetic instinct that more stuff is better than less stuff, that bigger is better. To outsell the competition car companies have to find ways to differentiate their products from the competition, make them sound like the more intelligent choice, and they do that by appealing to our ingrown attitude that "more is better."

The problem is it's very hard to one-up the competition when all of you are basically selling a box with very similar comfy seats, an engine, a nice sound and GPS navigation system, four wheels and exactly as many cup holders as you can stuff into that box and not look silly. So car manufacturers get creative, invent new, high-tech-thingies that they can add to their cars and then turn around and try to convince people that that thingies are actually important and make their cars bigger and better than their competitor's vehicles.

Case in point: recently one of the luxury car lines (I forget which one) ran a TV ad campaign talking about how intelligent their car's windshield wipers are. Intelligent windshield wipers are important, apparently, because when they detect moisture they send a message to the disk brakes that activates a heater to dry the disk brakes off.

Now this line of thinking probably works well and makes sense to someone with no engineering or physics background, but I know how wheels, disk brakes and water work. Braking a wheel when you're moving slowly is not at all difficult, even when the brakes are damp. Braking only gets to be a problem when the car is going faster, which means the wheels are spinning, creating centrifugal forces that quickly throw the moisture that hits the disk brakes off. The small amount of water that is left behind is wiped of by the brake pads, which constantly skim on the surface of the disk brakes. Net effect of an added device that "dries the brakes" on braking efficiency? Probably zero or very close to it. It might even be counter-productive because those heater and control circuits add weight to the car, weight that has to be decelerated, slowed down when someone applies the brakes.

Yet the man with the Harvard-educated accent is telling me that this car is safer than the competition's cars because it has intelligent windshield wipers and brake driers, one-upping the competition in the hope that P.T. Barnum was right when he said "there's a sucker born every minute," suckers that don't have the background to recognize when advertising is creating a smoke and mirrors illusion that intelligent windshield wipers are important and "bigger and better."
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Old 12-21-2007, 02:32 AM   #28
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I don't want to be Jones. All those annoying people, chasing the Jonses. The poor Jones folk are probably going out of their head, ready to throw themselves of a cliff and pursued by all their little lemming followers.
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