Wednesday, June 02, 2010


There's a lot of interest in electric cars these days. The Toyota Prius has been a huge success and both Chevy and Nissan are poised to come out with their own versions.

I think that diesel is a good idea. Diesel engines are torque monsters, even the smaller ones, which is why they are such a good idea in farm tractors and large trucks. You need torque if you're turning a generator to charge batteries, or the torque from the engine can directly drive the motors.

The leader in hybrid technology has been the railroad industry. These behemoths combine a diesel engine and electric motors and move freight very efficiently. I think that the motor companies missed an opportunity several years ago. A full-size pickup with a diesel engine and electric drive motors should he a very efficient vehicle, with enough "green" credentials to make even the most ardent environmentalist happy.

Oh, and people who buy straight electric vehicles are going to be plenty pissed off when the learn that their cars are (in fact), coal powered. Where do they think the electricity comes from?


Termite said...

I can't figure out why nobody makes a 1/2 ton diesel pickup. Or a mid-sized diesel pickup.

Rivrdog said...

Termite, one is coming, the Indian Mahindra pickup. It uses an Audi TDI engine and six-speed automatic. The best thing is that it is really a one-ton, with a total load capacity of 2,700#. It gets 30mpg on the highway, costs less than $25K.

PawPaw, years ago, back in the 70's, American Motors did build a diesel-electric concept car. They took an AMC Concord DL, pulled out the inline Six, and put in a DC motor. They then installed enough lead-acid batteries to give it a 40-mile range. For highway travel, they built a light trailer with an efficient, constant-speed diesel powered generator set which would take the car down the road as far as the diesel fuel held out (plus 40 miles).

So, for city work, you could scoot around on batteries, and recharge them by plugging in, but you had the option to hook up the trailer and go forever.

There's no reason the same thing couldn't be done today, maybe even with a fuel cell with zero carbon emissions.

Rich Jordan said...

I'm still waiting for a true electric vehicle with a small diesel powered generator; not a hybrid like the Prius. I've read about some small diesels that are designed to run with very high efficiency at a fixed RPM; sounds ideal.

And if the genset could provide standard A/C voltages too, that would be even better.

I was hoping the Chrysler EV vehicles would lead in that direction but after Dear Leader's fiat-ification of Chrysler it looks like the 'new' electric direction is some horrid euro-style bug-ugly toy (, leaving it cold on purpose...). I wanted the Jeep...

Windy Wilson said...

The electricity comes out of the wall outlet, just like food comes from the back room at the grocery store, of course! :O