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Is buying a Diesel car really a good decision?

Discussion in 'Hangout' started by PatchyBoy, Dec 23, 2013.


I bought a Diesel car, because

  1. I know it is less polluting car and have posted my findings

    0 vote(s)
  2. I never thought about the pollution angle

    4 vote(s)
  3. I drive more than 20000 kms a year, so it makes sense

    15 vote(s)
  4. Not me. I drive a petrol car

    9 vote(s)
  1. PatchyBoy

    PatchyBoy Esperto

    As a result of living in the "Information Age", most of us have access to a lot of information on varied topics. We base our decisions on the information we are able to gather and are happy that we made a "learned and well researched" decision. But the problem is - the source of the information is inherently dubious. Most search results on the internet, lead us to unauthenticated information. Additionally, most searches are made with a closed mind, which means that most people search for arguments to support their belief and do not really go on a quest for the truth. To add to the farce, most manufacturers like to highlight the positives of their product and choose not to talk much about the negatives. They are so successful in doing this, that most customers fall for the marketing hype - hook, line and sinker.

    Yesterday, while posting on a different thread, I made a mention that I will not buy a Diesel car, as I care for the environment. This was challenged by a friend over an exchange of messages on the phone, which set me thinking, am I right or is my perception out-dated. So, thought of starting this discussion about fellow car users' perception on this topic.

    Here is my take -

    Whenever friends tell me how they have to refuel their diesel powered cars less often and therefore how economical diesel powered cars are to them in India, they usually make a second point to justify their ownership of a diesel powered car; they say that diesel is a much cleaner fuel than petrol and therefore less polluting. Both these claims perpetuated by the powerful and influential automobile manufacturers lobby are disputable.

    Diesel car owners insist that diesel is cleaner than petrol. This is not true! Diesel fumes are just as toxic as petrol fumes, but their emissions, in addition, contain particulate matter that has proven to be carcinogenic and, are the cause of a whole bundle of respiratory problems.

    The five main pollutants emitted by the petrol and diesel vehicles are:
    1. Carbon dioxide CO[SUB]2 - [/SUB]Diesel fuel produces approximately 13% more CO[SUB]2[/SUB] gas per gallon of fuel burned, compared to petrol engines. On the other hand it could be said, Diesel vehicles emit less carbon dioxide than Petrol vehicles because diesel vehicles consume less fuel.

    2. Carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons (HC), and aldehydes are generated in the exhaust as the result of incomplete combustion of fuel. Both Petrol and diesel engines produce CO. Hydrocarbons and aldehydes are major contributors to the characteristic diesel smell. Carbon monoxide can accumulate in the ambient atmosphere and cause headaches, dizziness and lethargy.

    3. Nitrogen oxides (NOx) - High temperatures and pressures combine with oxygen to form nitrous oxides. Both Petrol and Diesel engines emit this. NOx emissions consist mostly of nitric oxide (NO) and a small fraction of nitrogen dioxide (NO2). Nitrogen dioxide is very toxic. NOx emissions are also a serious environmental concern because this causes photochemical smog.

    4. Hydrocarbons - the primary constituent in oil, petrol and diesel. These constituents of primary interest to human health have been the aromatic hydrocarbons and combustion emissions from fuels (e.g., carbon monoxide, benzene, acetaldehyde, formaldehyde, diesel particulates). These are carcinogenic and cause headache, drowsiness and cough.

    5. Sulfur dioxide (SO2) Sulfur is a naturally occurring component of crude oil and is found in both diesel exhaust and to a lesser extent in petrol, and contributes to sulfur dioxide in the air. Sulfur is a potent asthma trigger and can cause other respiratory health effects. Sulfur oxides have a profound impact on the environment, being the major cause of acid rains.

    6. Suspended Particulate Matter - These are solid particles such as soot, suspended in the open air. Diesel engines emit so much more of this matter that it is also called ‘Diesel Particulate Matter.

    DPM as defined by the EPA regulations and sampling procedures, is a complex aggregate of solid and liquid material. Its origin is carbonaceous particles generated in the engine cylinder during combustion. The main particulate fraction of diesel combustion exhaust consists of fine particles and a major source of atmospheric soot. Because of their small size, inhaled particles cause respiratory problems and may easily penetrate deep into the lungs causing lung damage and are also carcinogenic in nature. In fact, diesel particulates have been labelled as ‘toxic air contaminant’ and ‘human carcinogen’ by the WHO, the US Environmental Protection Agency, and the International Agency for Cancer Research, as these have been found to cause lung cancer and kill unborn foetuses.

    Diesel Cars are more fuel efficient, but more expensive to buy and more expensive to maintain in the long run.

    When one compares the fuel efficiency of petrol and diesel cars, diesel cars are more efficient than those that use petrol. A small car running on diesel will give as much as 30% more per Kmpl than an identical car running on petrol. On top of this, the Indian government subsidises diesel and imposes higher taxes on petrol so that diesel costs around 25% less than petrol. So due to the lower cost of diesel and the greater fuel efficiency of diesel engines, running a diesel car in India is, on the face of it, a better deal for a car buyer in India.

    But the cost–of-fuel-advantage is not all that clearly advantageous - Diesel cars cost more to buy than petrol cars, and unless the diesel car runs for at least 400 Kms a week for around four to five years, the price differential between a diesel car and petrol car will not be made up by the lower cost of fuel nor by fuel efficiency of the diesel engine. So according to calculations made by ZigWheels, it takes about four years at 20000 kilometres a year to make up for the higher cost price of a diesel car to be made up against the amount spent on fuel. Plus, it would take another year to make up the cost of depreciation to make up the difference in cost.

    Maintenance is higher for diesel cars - The cost of maintenance of diesel cars is much higher than the cost of petrol cars due to the greater vibrations in diesel cars. Once old, diesel engines invite recurring troubles and expenses which cost, arguably, around 30% to 50% more in maintenance costs. Also petrol cars outlive diesel cars. So in the end diesel cars are not cheaper to own than a petrol car unless one regularly drives more than 2000 kilometres per month.

    However, diesel car buyers and owners, though they may be socially responsible and environmentally conscious, are misled by auto manufacturer’s propaganda and are willingly and eagerly deluded into believing the lie about the cleanliness of diesel compared with petrol cars. And convince themselves of false belief that diesel cars are more economical to their pockets due to the low price of government-subsidised diesel. The fuel efficiency of diesel cars permits them to justify their ownership, regardless of the reality of their perceptions.

    Car manufacturers that have invested billions in diesel car production go to great lengths to stymie the truth about the long-term cost comparison between petrol and diesel cars. And they maintain the misinformation and perpetuate the myth about diesel cars being less polluting.

    Pollution rises with sale of more diesel powered cars - The demand for diesel-powered vehicles has surged. More than 60% of all new car purchases in India including large, expensive SUVs and off-roaders that are never driven off-road, and luxury vehicles sold by Audi or BMW, are almost exclusively powered by diesel. And these are bought by people to whom the fuel price differential doesn't matter, but they have the feeling that they are getting a bargain in fuel costs, and that they are economising.

    Tempted by the lower fuel costs, there is also a rise in demand for small cars that run on diesel.

    15 per cent of the current consumption of diesel is in passenger cars. The agricultural sector uses less—12 per cent of the country’s diesel. Trucks use some 37 per cent of the diesel consumed and buses 12 per cent - Sunita Narain - Down To Earth.

    Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell’s report says the diesel consumption growth rate at 6.4 per cent has outstripped that of petrol at 4.5 per cent. This shows up in the pollution levels in the cities, which is rising; breathing problems are rising; cases of asthma and bronchitis are rising. Over the past five years, Delhi's pollution graph has been heading northwards and as a result, respiratory tract diseases have also seen an upsurge. Vehicular emissions are mainly to blame for rising PM2.5 levels in Delhi - India Today

    Increase in cases of asthma, bronchitis in city –The Hindu – Karnataka – Bangalore

    ...city doctors said at least 50% of all cases they are seeing are bronchitis, rhinitis and asthma cases among other respiratory symptoms. Times of India- Hyderabad

    Also the cost benefits of owning a diesel car accrue only after five years if used for at least 20000 kms per year to make up for the higher price paid for the diesel car, and then of course after that there is the higher cost of maintenance due to more diesel engine vibrations.
    So finally the decision to use a diesel car depends on how socially responsible one is, and how concerned one is about the welfare and health of ourselves and our fellow citizens and the state of our environment, this, weighed against our own reasons of saving money and our own economy.

    Diesel fuelled cars definitely hurt peoples health and the environment.

    Better still, use cars (petrol or diesel) even less; car pool as much as possible; try and share each trip with more passengers to use roads more efficiently; walk short distances instead of driving; use public transport whenever possible. Drive fuel-economically.

    Drive safely. Take care!

    Last edited: Dec 23, 2013
    13 people like this.
  2. Let me put a twist to your post.

    BELGIUM: New petrol engines pollute more than diesels

    New gasoline direct injection (GDI) car petrol engines emit more cancer causing particles than modern diesel engines, a study by independent vehicle researchers TUV Nord claimed.
    While GDI engines make petrol cars more fuel efficient and emit less CO2, the findings show that these engines typically release around 1,000 times more harmful particles than traditional petrol engines and 10 times more than new diesels.
    "The cost of a filter to eliminate particle emissions from GDI cars is low (around EUR50), with no loss in fuel efficiency and a big societal benefit. Despite this, carmakers are delaying fitting filters on GDI cars," TUV Nord said.
    Greg Archer, clean vehicles manager at Transport & Environment, said: “Cars are the largest source of air pollution in Europe’s cities and 90% of European citizens are already exposed to harmful levels of particle pollution. Carmakers’ reluctance to install cheap particle filters on GDI engines means that society as a whole has to pay the cost through more ill health.”
    EU laws already require particle filters to be fitted to all new diesel cars but there is no mandatory requirement for new petrol engines. By 2020, GDI engines are expected to power almost all new petrol cars sold in Europe, accounting for around half of all new passenger vehicles.

    Vehicles tested by TUV Nord all showed the number of particles emitted from GDI engines is likely to exceed the 2017 European emissions limits, Euro 6. Emissions from the Renault Mégane were almost twice as high as those from the Ford Focus and Hyundai i40, when tested without a gasoline particle filter fitted. Fitting the filter reduced the number of particles in the exhaust by a factor of around 2,000, enabling the car to emit levels of particles in similar numbers to those found in unpolluted air.
    There is also widespread concern that, as with fuel economy figures for cars, there will be a large disparity between particle emissions in vehicle tests and the actual emissions from real-world driving. With a filter fitted the emissions are negligible under all driving conditions.
    “More fuel-efficient, lower CO2 GDI engines would be a great innovation if they did not emit harmful particles. These particles can be eliminated for the price of a hands free kit. It’s time for carmakers to act responsibly and make petrol cars less polluting overall,” Archer said.

    Source New petrol engines pollute more than diesels

    What are the main differences between diesel and petrol?

    Conventional diesel and petrol are both produced from mineral oil, but using different refining methods. While diesel is in principle easier to refine than gasoline, it needs to be cleaned from more pollutants to ensure that tailpipe emissions remain as low as possible. However, diesel contains more energy than petrol and the vehicle’s engine combustion process is more efficient, adding up to higher fuel efficiency and lower CO2 emissions when using diesel.
    7 people like this.
  3. DRIV3R

    DRIV3R Esperto

    The friend whom Rajan mentioned is me. :D But, Rajan I did not challenge you, just remember reading somewhere that modern diesels pollute much lesser hydrocarbons in particular than petrol engines.

    Let me add some value to this thread when I stumble upon something on those lines. :)
    2 people like this.
  4. PatchyBoy

    PatchyBoy Esperto

    You disagreed with me and AFAIC - it is a challenge :D. Thanks for that. It has rekindled my curiosity to understand the pollution caused by automobiles.

    Look forward to that. In reality, it does not matter which fuel pollutes more. If this thread makes buyers add "Pollution Levels" to the list of car buying decision pointers, it would have served it's purpose, I guess :D

    Last edited: Dec 23, 2013
    5 people like this.
  5. limraj

    limraj Superiore

    Linea 1.3
    An article from Bloomberg
    [h=1]In Japan, Diesel Cars Get a Second Chance[/h]
    The bottom line: Only 0.4 percent of Japan’s autos were diesels last year. The government wants to boost that to 5 percent by 2020

  6. gurjinder

    gurjinder Staff Member Janitor

    From an environmental standpoint : It's a can of worms.

    I think Google can give us 100 links mentioning petrols are actually the worse polluters and another 100 links saying diesels are worse. So, this is one matter which is not settled, atleast for me. Factor in the aspect that petrols consume more fuel than diesels (for comparable engine capacities and technologies), are an inherently less efficient engine by design and the argument that the petrol is a greener engine goes flying out of the window. Next generation petrol engines are going to employ diesel-like spark less ignitions in order to attain present diesel like combustion efficiency. DI petrols are a result of that :)

    The bottomline is that if you care for the environment - don't buy any car. Use public transport or cycles. But saying diesels are hurting the environment and petrols are greener is just a farce. Both are hurting the environment. Period. Singling out one is not the sensible way to approach the topic. Diesel bashing is just fashionable for the pseudo-green guys.

    From a financial and driver's standpoint : Completely depends on individual to individual. I'd buy a diesel even if I was doing 500km per month. Totally addicted to diesels.

    12 people like this.
  7. GaganTakker

    GaganTakker Amatore

    New Delhi
    Even I like turbo and high torque engines i.e primarily diesel engines
    and u feel a little better when u pay weekly for the fuel bill
    Although the maintenance is little high

    Plan keeping in mind your 5 yrs usage down the line

    Good Luck
  8. sakartechin

    sakartechin Amatore

    Grande Punto 1.3
    I totally agree with guruji :) . Also Govt should encourage use of public transport and cycles. Separate path way for cycles and good and fast public transport would encourage people to use public transport
  9. royj

    royj Esperto

    I completely agree with Gurjinder on the pollution front.
    Having owned both petrol and diesel vehicles over long periods, I would pick a diesel for my kind of use.
    The primary reason being I am comfortable with the power and torque characteristics of diesels.
    I am also doubtful of the claim that diesel is expensive to maintain.
    I used to spend more or less the same on my petrol Santro as I currently spend on my diesel Punto.
    Usage of Santro was around 700-800km/month, usage of Punto is around 1100km/month, and the Santro usage was over four years ago.
  10. nareshov


    The lack of factory fitted diesel particulate filters on most diesel cars in India just makes the matter worse. Other countries typically enforces this by law.

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