Category Archives: Vehicles

Diesel hybrid from VW finally on the market (in Europe)

Back in 2011 we posted about this space-agey diesel-electric hybrid concept from Volkswagen dubbed the XL 1. At the time, the XL1 was just a prototype and not strictly “street legal.” However, as reported by Inside Climate News, the auto manufacturer has followed through on its promise to produce a small run of the hyper-efficient two-seaters, and Volkswagen is now selling a limited run of 250 models in Europe.

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Most impressively, the car is still reported to get 260 miles per gallon. According to Inside Climate News:

The XL 1′s fuel economy comes partly from its hybrid engine, and partly from its light and aerodynamic design. The car weighs 1,800 pounds, less than half the typical U.S. car. Its tires were slimmed down and its engine was shrunk and turbocharged to get more power. Even the body paint is extra thin. Like most hybrids, the XL 1 is particularly fuel efficient in stop-and-go or city driving, while its diesel engine excels on highways.

There are some performance tradeoffs to achieve this efficiency—the XL1 doesn’t go faster than 99 mph and is slow to reach highway speeds. (Though lead-foot driving isn’t good for fuel economy or safety. )

The XL1 has a hefty price tag of $150,000, even when compared to Tesla’s Model S, which runs upwards of $100,000. Regardless of cost, we won’t see the VW XL1 for sale in the US anytime soon. Guess we’ll have to stick with the regular ol’ Volkswagen TDIs, but with their great fuel economy and more affordable price, we’re not complaining!

Read more about the XL1 limited release.

Audi RS5 TDI Concept

It’s an exciting time for diesel vehicle enthusiasts—Audi is celebrating 25 years of the TDI engine! And how does a car company celebrate a milestone like this? By unveiling an awesome new concept car, of course.

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Audi RS5 TDI photo credit: autoblog.com

According to Autoblog, Audi is set to unleash the RS5 triple-turbo-charged diesel concept at the Leipzig Auto Show this month. And by “triple-turbo-charged,” I mean to say that the 3.0-liter V6 is a twin-turbo diesel engine with an electric supercharge tacked on just for kicks. Super fast kicks. The RS5 ramps up from 0 – 6o mpg in about four seconds flat.

And what’s better than going super fast, super quick? Super efficiency! Thanks to the diesel engine, the RS5 uses only five liters (~1.3 gallons) in 100 km, which translates to about 47 miles per gallon.

While this is only a concept car, Audi does have several other diesel options the available today, including the A6, A7, A8L, Q5, and Q7 TDIs, plus other models from previous years.

Trident Inceni: A speedy sporty diesel

The word “diesel” usually brings to mind a big, loud, rumbly truck and probably not a very fast truck. The Trident Inceni turns this idea on its head. This sports car is smokin’—and no I don’t mean the exhaust. There’s no hint of clunky, puttering truck in this vehicle. trident-iceni Here’s the low down from Auto Blog:

Billed as “the world’s fastest and most fuel efficient diesel sports car,” the Trident Inceni is styled in the grandest of British tradition. But it’s what’s under that classical sheetmetal that makes it stand out. Where you’d expect to find a gasoline-burning engine, the Trident Inceni packs a 6.6-liter turbodiesel V8 good for an entirely respectable 395 horsepower and a time-bending 700 pound-feet of torque. Mated to a six-speed automatic transmission (there aren’t a lot of gearboxes out there, after all, that could handle that much twist), the Inceni is said to be good for a 3.7-second 0-60 time and a top speed in excess of 190 miles per hour. All that with a range of 2,000 miles and the ability to run on mineral or bio-diesel.

Did you catch that last part there? The ability to run on BIODIESEL. Now that’s my kind of sports car. trident-iceni-09-1 Maybe you don’t have a cool $160k to drop on the biodiesel car of your dreams. Luckily, there are a few more accessible options on the market. For example, check out our post on the VW Golf Sportwagen.

Hope to find a Koenigsegg on Easter

The only egg I want to find in my Easter basket is a Koenigsegg supercar—specifically, the CCXR or the new One:1. Not to be picky, but both of these ultra-performance vehicles run on E85 or E100. And what’s a sports car without a high-octane fuel?

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Koenigsegg One:1

Koenigsegg, the Swedish manufacturer of these high-performance sports cars, proudly touts its development of “green technology.” The CCXR was the first Hypercar in the world designed and calibrated to run on high ethanol blends (E85 or E100), as well as regular petroleum gasoline.

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Koenigsegg CCXR

The One:1 is following in the CCXR green tracks by also running on E85.

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Koenigsegg One:1

If you’re wondering about the name, here is what Koenigsegg has to say:

The hp to kg curb weight ratio is an astonishing 1:1. This is the  “dream” equation previously thought impossible. On top of this the One:1 is the first homologated production car in the world with one Megawatt of power, thereby making it the world´s first series produced Megacar.

I might not fully appreciate the engineering ramifications of this ratio, but I am throughly impressed regardless. Learn more about the CCXR and the One:1 at the Koenigsegg website.

Looking for a more sensible vehicle that can still run the same high-performance, high-octane fuel as these supercars? Check out our list of E85 vehicles.

Beloved VW Jetta TDI SportWagen, no more.

As of 2015, Volkswagen’s popular and much-loved wagon sedan model, the Jetta TDI  SportWagen will be replaced—or, more accurately, filed under a new genus as the Golf  TDI SportWagen.

Phew. Hope I didn’t have you worried there.

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image: auto blog green

Still in the concept phase, the all-wheel-drive TDI Clean Diesel Golf SportWagen is scheduled to debut in the US at the New York Auto Show later this month:

Volkswagen of America, Inc. will debut a concept version of the latest SportWagen model that features a 4MOTION® all-wheel drive system and the new EA288 TD®I Clean Diesel engine at the New York Auto Show. The concept previews the all-new Golf SportWagen that goes on sale in early 2015. Based on the new MQB (modular transverse matrix) architecture, the Golf SportWagen will continue the trend introduced by the seventh generation Golf whereby it is lighter, bigger, roomier, more fuel efficient and more powerful than the outgoing SportWagen model.

Just the mention of an all-wheel-drive diesel wagon has me daydreaming of rallying up mountain passes, blasting by chain control, all on one tank of biodiesel. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that the SportWagen models bound for the US will feature the 4MOTION all-wheel-drive system. More information to come after the New York Auto Show. Stay tuned.

Read more about the Golf SportWagen from Auto Blog Green.
Find more diesel vehicle options.

2014 Geneva Motor Show diesel vehicle round-up

European auto shows tend to deliver on the diesel front, and this year’s Geneva Motor Show was no disappointment. I just hope these models make it to American showrooms in the future!

Below are my favorite diesels from the show. Basic specs and pics courtesy  of Autoblog Green.

Audi TT

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The third generation of this sporty little two-seater was revealed at the Geneva Motor Show with the exciting news that “Audi is offering a trio of engines for the new TT, including a 2.0-liter turbodiesel powerplant that’s good for 184 horsepower, 280 pound-feet of torque and an excellent 56 miles per gallon.” Unfortunately, the the TDI option is currently unconfirmed for the US market. Here’s hoping!

Volkswagen Multivan Alltrack Concept

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The luxurious VW T5 MultiVan would take the vagabond-travel lifestyle to a whole new, classy level — or at least make hauling kids around in a van more appealing. The “nautical themed” van features an All-Wheel Drive system and a seven-speed transmission powered by a 177-horsepower diesel engine.

BMW X3

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Great news, this diesel will be available in the US! According to the Autoblog report, “in addition to the 2.0-liter turbo-four and 3.0-liter turbo-six, BMW will now offer an X3 xDrive28d, fitted with – you guessed it – the 2.0-liter turbodiesel inline four-cylinder engine found in the 328d sedan. Output for this engine is rated at 180 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, and BMW says this oil-burning mill will help the X3 reach 60 miles per hour in just under eight seconds. The automaker hasn’t released any information about real or predicted fuel economy figures for the diesel X3, as yet.”

Bentley SUV diesel

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Ok, so most of us will never be able to afford a Bentley, let alone a premium diesel model, but it warms my efficiency-loving heart to know that the option will be available for those who can. This wasn’t technically on the floor at the Geneva show, but Autoblog had the inside line from the a convo with the CEO. The luxury SUV is slated for production in 2017 and the possibility of offering a diesel engine option is currently in the works. In addition to the potential diesel option, the vehicle will be designed from the get-go as a plug-in hybrid. Hopefully, this Bentley will get the best of both efficiency worlds.

Volkswagen T-Roc Concept

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Autoblog is confident that VW plans to build a Golf-sized crossover that would nest under the existing, larger Tiguan and it will look something like the T-Roc Concept a “with its flexible new MQB architecture and a diverse family of suitable powertrains that include gas, diesel, compressed natural gas, plug-in hybrid and pure electric models.” Lots of options, that’s what we like to hear. Now just make sure at least the diesel option ends up Stateside.

Ok, you’re probably thinking, enough of the European diesel options. What about some sweet, super efficient diesels I can get in the good ol’ US of A? Look no further than our recent post on the Chicago Auto Show.

New Diesels debut in Chicago: Smaller trucks, wagons and powerful sedans

Since diesels reappeared with ultra-clean emission standards in California showrooms in 2008, the options keep coming. And there were several new diesel vehicles making an appearance at the recent Chicago Auto Show.

One of the noteworthy debuts was Nissan’s Cummins-equipped Frontier “concept” truck. Looking for a diesel truck that’s smaller than your first apartment? Here it finally is. (Will Chevy respond? read on…)

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Nissan Frontier – photo: autoblog

This so-called “concept” vehicle is really just the Frontier DesertRunner 4×2 sans gasoline engine. Instead of the standard gasoline engine, the truck features a 2.8-liter four-cylinder turbo diesel. Though,  according to Autoblog, it might be a few years before the concept is market ready.

BMW showed off their diesels too. The 2015 X3d is getting a new diesel option and the 740Ld xDrive sedan, a 3.0-liter turbodiesel. These models add to BMW’s growing lineup of diesel-powered options, including the 328d, 535d, and the X5d.

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740Ld – photo: autoblog

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X3d – photo: autoblog

Plus, the seventh-generation Golf vehicle line will be getting a refresh as the Golf SportWagen (the Jetta SportWagen will be incorporated into the Golf line) and it will definitely have TDI diesel option.

photo: autoblog

VW Golf SportWagen Variant – photo: autoblog

Not to be outdone by the likes of Nissan and Volkswagen,  Chevrolet is releasing both a midsize diesel-powered truck and a sporty turbodiesel sedan.

By 2016, the Chevy Colorado pickup will have a 2.8-liter Duramax four-cylinder diesel engine. And the 2014 Chevy Cruze TD is already cruisin’ the streets with its super efficient 2.0-liter turbodiesel. Chevrolet is a major supporter of renewable fuel options and proudly supports the use of Biodiesel B20 in its new diesel models.

photo: autoblog

Chevrolet Colorado – photo: autoblog

There are a few more diesels on the horizon that we will further investigate in the future, such as the Jeep Wrangler and the Frontier’s big brother, the Nissan Titan. It is encouraging to see so many diesel options coming to market. Renewable fuels, like biodiesel, are an integral part to helping meet California’s Low Carbon Fuel goals, so the more diesel options out on the road, the better! Just make sure to fill ‘em up with biodiesel.

For biodiesel locations, please visit propelfuels.com/locations.

2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel rated most fuel efficient pickup

In a recent report issued by Motor Trend, the EPA has released fuel efficiency numbers for the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel placing the full-size pickup at the top of its bracket for fuel efficiency. The rear-drive Ram 1500 with its EcoDiesel engine boasts a 20/28/23 mpg city/highway/combined, which as earned it the title of Motor Trend’s “Truck of the Year.”

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According to Motor Trend, the impressive mpg rating is “thanks to features like active grille shutters, an adjustable air suspension with an ‘aero’ mode, and a segment-exclusive eight-speed automatic transmission.”

And just to note, the B20 biodiesel-approved EcoDiesel engine is the same fuel-efficient workhorse powering the diesel Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Read more on the Ram 1500 from Motor Trend.

Hottest diesels on the road found at the 2014 National Biodiesel Board conference

This year, a few members of the Propel Fuels’ team — myself included! — were lucky enough to attend the 2014 National Biodiesel Board conference in San Diego, which happened to be timed beautifully with our Homegrown Roadshow 2.0 road trip. (Did you follow me & Em on our journey through SoCal? If not, be sure to check out Facebook to catch up on our shenanigans!)

A true opportunity to get back to our roots, the NBB Conference brings together folks from all rungs of the biodiesel industry—from manufacturers of processing components to fuel producers, vehicle manufacturers, and, of course, retailers like Propel that are dedicated to bringing those carefully processed fuels the last mile to consumers and fleet drivers like you.

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In addition to providing a rare opportunity to geek out with our industry brethren under one roof, the conference allowed to us to get to know our partners at the Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) a bit better. As the representing arm of the San Diego Clean Cities Coalition, the Center for Sustainable Energy is committed to increasing awareness of renewable energy programs, including renewable transportation fuels. We were happy to share a booth with CCSE’s local Program Assistant, Rebecca  (pictured below with the not-me Emily) and chat with industry folk and consumers, alike, about the advantages and availability of Propel’s biodiesel.

Plus, the conference gave a couple of us a chance to finally check out the latest diesel vehicles — and even climb behind the wheel of a few.

FORD F250
The F-series family has been a top selling truck line for over 60 years and for the past four years, the Ford F250 Super Duty trucks have proudly sported a B20 biodiesel badge. At the NBB conference, Ford brought out the F250 for the vehicle showcase and the “Ride-and-Drive.”

em_F250(Trying my best to mimic those fancy car gals we see at all the auto shows.)

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During the NBB-sponsored “Ride and Drive,” Propel’s Director of Fuel Supply & Logistics, Parker took the Ford F250 out for a spin. The standard Ford-built 6.7L Power Stroke® V8 Turbo Diesel offers 800 lbs of torque and 400 horsepower. And, of course, the B20 stamp of approval—higher mileage, better engine performance, and cleaner emissions.

F250

Having had previous experience with past generations of F250s, Parker’s reaction to the smooth handling and easy acceleration was enthusiastic. “This is a truck I could get used to driving, ” he proclaimed. The double cab was roomy with plenty of space for passengers and comfortable enough to be in it for the long haul. But, it is a work truck, and it is not small, so might not be the best about-town transportation.

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CHRYSLER JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE ECODIESEL
To say that we’ve been excited about the release of the 2014 diesel Grand Cherokee is an understatement. We anticipated its arrival since the Detroit Autoshow early last year and now, finally, got the chance to inspect the Jeep in person.

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The 2014 Jeep® Grand Cherokee’s 3.0L EcoDiesel engine has a 30-mpg highway rating, can run up to 730 miles on one tank of fuel (Biodiesel B20, of course), and can tow up to 7,400 pounds. A great vehicle for rugged roads and superior fuel economy—and the B20-approval seals the deal.

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CHEVROLET CRUZE
Winner of the National Biodiesel Board’s 2014 Innovation Award, the Chevy Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel is the first light-duty passenger car in the U.S. to be fully approved for use with B20 biodiesel blends nationwide.

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Naturally, it was at the top of our Must-Test-Drive list. At Propel HQ, many of our team members own Volkswagen diesel passenger vehicles, namely the Jetta TDI sedan, which is the German equivalent to the American Cruze. As a TDI-driver, myself, I was looking forward to trying out a US-produced diesel for comparison.

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The Cruze ran like a top, with smooth acceleration and only a gentle purr letting on to the diesel power. Some drivers might be disappointed to discover that the diesel is only offered with an automatic transmission and does not have a standard amenities package option—top of the line only, which means a bigger price tag for an already premium model. However, with a 46 mpg highway rating, beating out any hybrid on the market, it may be worth the extra cost. And as for the Cruze’s German competitor, the “Ride and Drive” guide was willing to go head-to-head with any Volkswagen diesel spec, matching or topping the Jetta TDI’s performance.

bulldozerAnd then there was this behemoth. While we didn’t have the chance to take this fancy biodiesel-friendly Cat Wheel Loader for a spin, Emily did prove that the wheel capacity is approximately one human. And the DPF filter catches 99% of all particulate matter. So fresh and so clean, clean!

– Emily S (“Shell”)

Top 3 Diesel Commercial Van Options

Businesses looking for a smart way to keep costs down, fuel economy up, and carbon emissions low have long looked toward diesel commercial vehicles  for their fleet. And who can blame them?

1) The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.

Equipped with a turbo diesel engine, the Sprinter has reined supreme among commercial van choices in recent years. The large sizes, custom options, and versatility make the Sprinter an ideal option, especially for businesses looking to maximize fuel economy.

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Judi’s Cleaners uses Propel for their diesel Sprinters.

But while the Sprinter has been the go-to vehicle for fleets and small businesses looking to haul efficiently, two new commercial vans — both boasting the latest in clean, fuel efficient diesel technology — are bringing an element of much-needed competition to the marketplace. And we have to admit: these vans go in style.

2) The Ford Transit Connect.

2015 Ford Transit Connect

You may have seen these compact commercial vans delivering and moving goods around your city. Currently, all the Connects are gasoline-only (not even a flexible fuel model!). However, this is soon to change with the introduction of the 2015 Transit Connect  3.2L I-5 Power Stroke Turbo Diesel. AND, for those looking for E85 compatibility, the 2015 Transit Connect will also have a Flexible Fuel model option. Look for both options to begin appearing at a dealership near you by Summer 2014.

3) The Ram ProMaster Van.

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This is the first Chrysler group foray into commercial diesel vans since the split with Daimler (when the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter went its own way). The ProMaster sports a 3L EcoDiesel V-6 with a selection of body styles – Cargo Van (pictured above), Chassis Cab, Cutway, and Window Van. In short, an option for the contractor, the cupcake caterer and everyone in between.

It’s fantastic to see a more diverse selection of diesel commercial vehicles on the market here in the US of A. As enthusiasts far and wide can already attest, diesel drivers experience great performance with better fuel economy — and, of course, the option to run any diesel vehicle on cleaner-burning, American-made biodiesel is never a bad thing.

Does your business run on diesel? Comment below and let us know why you choose diesel for your fleet. And be sure to visit us online to learn more about biodiesel for businesses or to find a biodiesel station near you.

World Record for fuel economy goes to a diesel!

Ladies and gentlemen, once again, diesels are cleaning up on the podium. This time it is a Guinness World Record for the best fuel economy. The Volkswagen Passat TDI, driven by a two-man team for 8,122-miles across America, achieved 77.99 miles per gallon. A full 10 miles per gallon better than the previous record! And it flew passed the hybrid record by a whopping 13 miles per gallon.

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Drivers, Wayne Gerdes and Bob Winger, purchased only 104.94 gallons of diesel fuel for the entire distance of their tour. The duo used common hyper-miling techniques like steady acceleration after stopping, utilizing momentum, and sticking to the speed limit. Doesn’t sound too tricky! Even without any fancy driving techniques, the Volkswagen Passat TDI is rated an EPA estimated 43 miles per gallon on the highway.

Read more about  record setting VW TDIs  and  history of their awesome fuel economy.

Photo credit: Autoweek.com.

Now that’s fast. E85-powered motorcycle hits 200mph in a mile.

We know racers love E85–the fuel increases performance and helps vehicles go, well, fast. Just how fast you ask? According to The Scoop Blog, the fellows over at No Regret Performance, optimized a 2006 Suzuki GSX-R750 motorcycle to run E85 and managed to reach over 209.98 miles per hour in a standing mile. Talk about zoom.

No Regret Performance- 200mph club members

No Regret Performance- 200mph club members

The racers of No Regret Performance, Jean-Pierre Trzebiatowski and Thomas Cronan, made several modifications to the motorcycle in order to run the high-blend ethanol fuel, including upgrading the fuel system, replacing injectors, and reprograming the bike’s computer. For the full scoop on the team’s technical modifications, check out Holly Jessen’s post.

Not mechanically savvy? Me neither. Luckily, there are plenty of cars right off the assembly line ready to run high-performance E85. Check out our list of Flex Fuel E85 compatible vehicles: www.propelfuels.com/vehicles.

Consumer Reports Says Flex Fuel Chevy Impala “Top of Class”

Chevrolet Impala It’s good to have a Flex Fuel vehicle on top. Consumer Reports is calling the  E85-friendy 2014 Chevrolet Impala the “best new sedan the magazine has tested in its category.” It’s the first time an American sedan has held that standing in at least 20 years. The Impala scored a 95 out of a possible 100. Only 2 other vehicles scored better in the overall report: the BMW 135I coupe and the no-gas-at-all Tesla Model S. The totally redesigned Impala’s 300 hp, 3.6L V6 engine includes E85 Flex Fuel capability as standard for the 2LT and 2LZ trim levels. Read the full report at http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2013/09/chevrolet-impala-review/index.htm. To see a list of all available Flex Fuel models, visit www.propelfuels.com/driveE85.

U of M Study says “Go Clean Diesel, Save Money”

U of MMaybe we’re preaching to the choir, but a new study by the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute shows that clean diesel vehicles save their owners money. And of course, choosing that diesel vehicle opens the door to using high performance, lower carbon, American made biodiesel. Even when paying a bit more for the diesel model, the Transportation Research Institute found that a diesel’s total cost of ownership (TCO) is lower than the gas version. Here’s how they put it…

“Our results show that clean diesel vehicles generally provide a return on investment in both the three- and five-year timeframes, though there are differences in the amounts of return among mass market vehicles, medium duty trucks, and luxury vehicles,” authors Bruce M. Belzowski and Paul Green, assistant research scientists with UMTRI, state in their report. “The estimates of savings for three and five years of ownership vary from a low of $67 in three years to a high of $15,619 in five years, but most of the savings are in the $2,000 to $6,000 range, which also include the extra cost that is usually added to the diesel version of a vehicle.”

Read more at http://www.biodieselmagazine.com/articles/9232/study-shows-diesels-save-owners-money-over-gasoline-versions.

More Californians choose diesel vehicles

That’s right. Californians, purveyors of the hippest trends, are choosing diesel vehicles more than ever. As reported by the Diesel Technology Forum, data complied by R.L. Polk & Co shows registration of diesel cars and SUVs in the state have increased 55% from 2010 to 2012. Not too shabby, fellow trend-setters. And the rest of the country is following suit, albeit at a slower pace, with diesel vehicle registrations up 24%.

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Total number of diesel vehicles in the U.S.  is over 6.6 million vehicles. While that may seem like a large chunk, that’s only 3% of all vehicle registrations. However, according to Allen Schaeffer, the Executive Director of the Diesel Technology Forum, “Auto analysts and market researchers virtually all agree diesel sales are going to increase significantly as the number of new diesels made available domestically will more than double in the next two years. Some analysts predict diesel sales will reach 10 percent of the U.S. market by 2020.”

Why is diesel making a comeback?
(1) New clean diesel technology. Diesel engine technology has cleaned up its act. No longer are diesel vehicles the smoggy, smoke-belching clunky truck of grandaddy’s day. Thanks in part to California’s strict emission standards implemented decades ago, dirty diesels were forced out. In their place, we welcome Mercedes BlueTec engines, Volkswagen clean diesels, and countless more eco-friendly diesel vehicle platforms.

(2) Awesome fuel economy. Efficiency is the name of the game, and diesel engine technology is a winner. In 2009, Volkswagen’s Jetta TDI won “Green Car of the Year,” beating out other high-mileage technology platforms like electric and hybrid vehicles.   Then another diesel took the top billing in 2010, when the Audi A3 TDI was named the greenest ride.

(3) Biodiesel! The best reason of all? Diesel vehicles can run cleaner burning fuel made right here in America from renewable resources.  Learn more about running biodiesel and find a biodiesel station near you.

Also, we should note, before diesel-loving Californians get too cocky, Texas is #1 in Total Diesel Passenger Vehicles, SUVs, Pickup Trucks, and Van registrations…

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Looking for diesle vehicles options? Check out the Diesel Forums comprehensive list of clean diesel vehicles currently available in the U.S.

Ethanol fuels American Le Mans Series

Ethanol blends are the top fuel choice for vehicles in the 2013 American Le Mans race series.  The added performance benefits and eco-friendly quality of ethanol  make ethanol fuel blends the preferred choice for the performance-demanding Le Mans racers.

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As part of meeting the Green Racing protocols and the International Motor Sports Association, American Le Mans cars must choose from four sanctioned fuels, including clean diesel, E10, E85 and isobutanol. At the start of the season, vehicles racing in the series choose to use either E85 (85% ethanol) or E10 (10% ethanol) for the duration of the races.

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It’s not hard to see why ethanol is a popular choice with the fuel’s wicked 100 octane rating. According to a special piece in the Chicago Tribune covering alternative vehicle news, ethanol’s higher octane rating “helps prevent pre-firing of an engine’s pistons and allows the race car to get more bang for the buck.” Plus, “heat takes its toll on engines, especially in [ALMS] cars. Ethanol is said to contain less heat energy than gasoline per volume, releasing less as it is burned.”

Racers might prefer ethanol for the performance benefits, but the fuel’s green factor is what truly makes it stand out. In high-blends like E85, ethanol fuel emits 20% fewer carbon emissions than conventional petroleum gasoline. And the best part? E85 is not reserved for Le Mans vehicles only. Many consumer vehicles can run E85 and get the same performance benefits. Find out if your car can drive E85.

Thanks to alms.com for photos from raceday in Monterey.

More (smaller) choices in alt fuel cars

Don’t need a Chevy Tahoe or a Ford F350? You are not alone. And while diesel passenger car registrations are on the rise – the choices for smaller cars compatible with biodiesel and Flex Fuel are not great. The good news is they are getting better. Here are a couple new options that do not require an addition to your garage.

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The Dodge Dart FFV is a welcomed newcomer to renewable fuels with an entry price of $16,000. Chrysler hasn’t officially said when the Dart will become flex-fuel capable, but the 2.0-liter Tigershark engine is designed as an FFV. Chrysler and IAV representatives at the SAE World Congress at Cobo Hall reported the engine will be going into the 2014 Dart, which is due later this year.

Cruze123

Starting MSRP for the B20-ready diesel Chevy Cruze is reported to be $25,695, and GM plans to sell them in markets where its B20-approved Chevrolet Silverado diesel models have done well, including the West Coast. The 2014 Cruze is expected to move into production this summer (2013), and gets better mileage than most hybrids.

More than 33 light- and medium-duty diesel passenger cars and trucks, as well as heavy-duty diesel models from nearly 20 different brands, will be available in the market this year. In addition to its Ford F-Series Super Duty trucks, Ford is introducing a new diesel model in its Ford Transit full size van which will also be approved for use with B20 biodiesel.  Additionally, Chrysler’s new 2013 Ram Heavy Duty pickup features 6.7-liter Cummins High-Output Turbo Diesel powertrain.  The 2013 Ram Heavy Duty diesel pickups are approved for general use with B20 by all customers beginning in January 2013.

Super Efficient Diesel-Electric Plug-Ins Abuzz at Geneva

To our delight, several manufacturers unveiled diesel-electric hybrid models at the Geneva Autoshow, including Volkswagen’s XL1 diesel-powered plug-in hybrid, touted as the “world’s most efficient car.” Reminiscent of a tictac on wheels, the XLI is a spacey, futuristic-styled two-seater claiming a whopping 261 miles per gallon fuel efficiency.

volkswagen-xl1-geneva-2013No word on how many of these snazzy little diesel-sippers will go into production or what the price tag might be (rumors suggest over six-figures), but we like the direction VW is headed.  For more information, check out autoblog’s report.

Ready for more diesel-electric thrills from Geneva?

Subaru showed off the Viziv diesel hybrid crossover. A concept vehicle that is the poster child for Subaru’s  “Vision for Innovation,” the Viziv offers a glimpse into future design and technological direction for the company.

subaru-viziv-concept-geneva-2013

Mitsubishi also brought a diesel-hybrid concept to the spotlight in Geneva: the Concept GR-HEV, a Sport Utility Hybrid Truck. According to Autoblog, “the vehicle’s drivetrain is good for CO2 emissions of 149 grams per kilometer. For comparison’s sake, the global 2012 Ford Ranger emits 264 g/km when equipped with the 3.2-liter turbo-diesel engine and a six-speed manual transmission.” Nice.

mitsubishi-concept-gr-hev-geneva-2013

Learn more about current diesel vehicle options and cleaner fuels for diesel vehicles at www.propelfuels.com.

Photo Credits — Autoblog.com

Chevy Endorses B20 for 2014 Clean Diesel Cruze

2014-chevrolet-cruze-diesel-front-side-viewBiodiesel enthusiasts rejoice. After months — nay, years — of teasing, Chevy has formally announced a clean diesel version of their popular Cruze sedan, currently slated to join the 2014 lineup.

2014-chevrolet-cruze-diesel-front-viewBut wait, there’s more.

On top of offering up to 42 mpg highway and 90% less NOx than previous-gen diesel engines, Chevy’s clean diesel Cruze also boasts the automaker’s official seal of approval when it comes to Biodiesel B20, a blend of 20% biodiesel and 80% petroleum diesel — a big win for fans of the cleaner-burning, more American-made fuel.

2014-chevrolet-cruze-diesel-rear-view-badge

2014-chevrolet-cruze-diesel-badgeWhile any diesel vehicle can safely run B20 without conversion or modification, an increasing number of auto manufacturers are formally endorsing use of the fuel in their new clean diesel models. Ford, Chevy, Cummins, Isuzu and others have all adopted pro-B20 messages in recent years, with vehicles like Ford’s diesel F-Series Super Duty even bearing a leaf-adorned B20 addition on the vehicle’s iconic Powerstroke badge.

Until recently, diesel passenger vehicles in the US were limited to TDI models from VW, Audi, BMW and Mercedes. Entering the market at ~$25k MSRP and slated to enter production this summer, the Cruze is the first diesel sedan to enter the US market from an American automaker  in recent history.

“This Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel represents a new era in diesel performance for American cars,” said Jens Wartha, GM chief engineer in a press release issued by GM earlier this week. “We’ve adapted a proven engine from Europe, the world’s diesel capital, and married it with the emissions-reducing technology that was perfected in the United States. It’s a great example of how Chevrolet’s global resources work harmoniously to produce the right product at the right time and for the right market.”

For those that associate diesel vehicles with rumbly, chugging engines, the diesel Cruze boasts several noise dampening extras that further hush the already-quiet 2.0L turbo diesel motor, including a unique dash mat, hood blanket and more.

Fuel efficiency, greener fueling and a quiet cabin? Sounds good to us.

For full details, view the full press release at GM.com.
To learn more about biodiesel, visit Propel Fuels.

Photo Credit – Chevy Cruze Images: MotorTrend.com

Detroit Autoshow. We like what we see.

This year’s Detroit Autoshow boasted plenty of shiny, drool-worthy vehicles, and, as renewable fuel enthusiasts, a couple in particular caught our eye.

Diesel (!) Jeep Grand Cherokee.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit

First of all, we love our diesels, especially the re-release on American soil of an old favorite like the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Chrysler’s new EcoDiesel V6 powers this off-roading champ. For all the specs and in-depth details, read Autoblog’s review on the Grand Cherokee’s comprehensive update.

Volkswagen CrossBlue Diesel-Hybrid.

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Be still our efficiency-loving hearts! Did you just say DIESEL-HYBRID? Before you get your hopes up too much, for now it’s a concept only. According to Volkswagen, the three-row crossover has an estimated fuel economy of 35 mpg combined and a whopping 89 mpg in electric mode. Get the scoop from Autoblog.

X-Truck Plug-In Hybrid Concept.

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It might be hard to tell but the X-Truck is a suped-up, highly-modified Chevy Silverado by Via Motors. The most obvious addition is the plug-in hybrid powertrain, which enables it to get the touted, but still unofficial, 100 miles per gallon. The truck still uses a 5.3-liter V8 from GM as a gas generator–when the battery is in a low state-of-charge, the generator kicks in and helps power up the battery packs. This begs the question: is the V8 Flex Fuel E85 compatible?! We certainly hope so!

New Clean Fuel Point is now open in Sacramento – Try Propel fuel for FREE!

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Come get your fill of Flex Fuel E85 and Biodiesel B20 at Propel’s new Clean Fuel Point in Sacramento @ Mak’s Valero station, 1101 Broadway. During the Grand Opening event, try $10 of Flex Fuel E85 or Biodiesel B20 for FREE!

The Grand Opening celebration goes from Tuesday, September 11 through Friday, September 14, 10am – 7pm. Hope to see you all there!

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UW Students to Retrofit Chevy Malibu to Run on Propel Biodiesel

The UW EcoCAR2 Team Receives $25,000 in seed money to kick-off the design of their plug-in hybrid, biodiesel Chevy Malibu.

As part of a program sponsored by the US Department of Energy, a team of students from the University of Washington is engineering a design will convert a conventional 2013 Chevy Malibu into a plug-in hybrid also capable of running on biodiesel.

According to Biodiesel Magazine, the program — titled EcoCAR2 — kicked off in mid-April 2011. Sixteen teams from across the country were selected to participate in the competition, which is co-sponsored by General Motors. According to UW’s EcoCar2 team leader Trevor Crain, the challenge requires that the Malibu (donated by GM) becomes not only a plug-in hybrid but successfully runs on biodiesel B20, E10, E85, hydrogen or grid-sourced electricity.

By choosing biodiesel, the team hopes to convey that diesel engines can be highly efficient and clean — and while Crain’s team of 50+ students would like to fill the car with a high-blend biodiesel, program regulations cap the blend at B20. Propel Fuels, which operates several biodiesel retail locations in the greater Seattle area, will provide the fuel.

Spanning three years total, the EcoCAR2 competition begins with a year-long design phase, after which the vehicle will be delivered for actual modification and conversion.

For more information on the project, visit Biodiesel Magazine, or visit the University of Washington’s project website at www.uwecocar2.com.

2012 VW Passat TDI ranks #1 for fuel economy over hybrids

Consumers don’t often consider full-size options when on the hunt for fuel efficient vehicles; however, there is a new class of roomy sedans boasting better fuel economy than previous generations. Motor Trend put three of these super efficient sedans in a head-to-head comparison to see which would come out on top in a miles-per-gallon competition.  The three vehicles compared include two hybrids, 2011 Hyundai Sonata and 2012 Toyota Camry, and one diesel, 2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI. After comparing road test mileage, driving experience and design, the VW Passat won hands down.

While the article had positive things to say about both the Hyundai and the Toyota, the Passat took first place by a long shot. With a highway rating of 40 mpg, on one tank of fuel the Passat can cruise the interstate for 740 miles without needing a pitstop. Add in a six-speed manual transmission and that range shoots up to 43 miles per gallon and 796 miles per tank. Overall, Motor Trend concludes that the superior trunk space (no pesky batteries infringing on storage capacity), “the first-rate steering and taut, lively suspension deliver a rewarding, responsive drive that can’t be matched in this group.”

Read more from Motor Trend.

The best part about diesel vehicles? You can run clean, American made biodiesel without any conversion. Find a Propel biodiesel location near you.

New engines maximize ethanol’s power and MPGs

Most drivers like the power, price and renewable benefits of E85, but are looking for ways to increase MPGs. Engines designed with gasoline as the primary fuel are not maximizing ethanol’s potential, which can often lead to mileage penalties. However, new  technology from manufactures like Ricardo is geared toward running efficiently with ethanol’s higher octane rating.

In a recent interview with Fleet Owner magazine, Robert Kozak, president of Atlantic Biomass Conversions pointed out that, “Such engine designs tap into the positive ability of ethanol to resist early ignition, thus regaining much of the previous fuel economy loss,” Kozak explained. “Higher octane ethanol makes an internal combustion engine operate more efficiently – up in the 30% to even 40% range – while it’s also priced lower than gasoline, on the order of 10 to 15%, because of its lower Btu or energy content.”

The goal is to produce direct injection engines that perform equal to if not more efficiently than current gasoline engines. And this is what Ricardo engine product group has developed in their ethanol boosted direct injection platform.  According to Rod Beazley, director of Ricardo, Ethanol’s higher octane rating allows the fuel to withstand compression rates closer to that of diesel engines. The higher the compression rates the better an engine can translate energy into power.

These first steps toward boosting ethanol efficiency in heavy-duty engines opens the door for continued technology innovation and helps solidify ethanol as a desirable choice for drivers.

Read more from Fleet Owner.

Chevy to offer diesel Cruze in US

Tired of having limited options in diesel passenger cars? We’ve got great news from GM. Chevrolet announced plans to bring a diesel model of the popular Cruze compact to America in 2013. Diesel versions of the Cruze are already offered in Europe to great success. This will finally bring some competition to Volkswagen and other European vehicle manufacturers that offer diesel passenger options in the US.

The gasoline version of the Cruze is already a hot seller, touting an EPA-rated 42 miles per gallon on the highway. The diesel model will no doubt provide even higher fuel economy and allow drivers the option to fuel with biodiesel.

While the Cruze will be Chevy’s first diesel passenger vehicle, the automaker is famous for a variety of diesel pickup trucks, as well as a range of flexible fuel vehicles designed to run on American-made Flex Fuel E85. To see a list of Chevrolet Flex Fuel Vehicles, visit Propel’s Drive E85 page.

Michigan Sheriff’s Fleet Saves with E85

Low price at the pump combined with limited MPG-loss combine for significant savings.

Huron County Sheriff’s Office began an experiment last March that had the department testing blends of Ethanol from E50 to E85. The goal: saving the county money through its fleet of 12 flex-fuel vehicles.

Sheriff Kelly J. Hanson found that as long as ethanol prices are less per gallon than the price at the pump for unleaded fuel, it would result in a significant cost savings. “As it turns out, our patrol fleet, which is mainly Chevrolet Impala cars, averaged between 1.5 miles to 2 miles less per gallon on E85 as opposed to unleaded,” said Hanson.

The Department also experimented with E50 and found that there was just about a one mile per gallon difference.

“When we basically went and took a pencil to it, it was determined that as long as pricing patterns remained the same, E85 would be the better choice,” he said. “Obviously, we are going to have to continuously monitor price differences in order for the county to benefit.”

If the price difference (with unleaded fuel costing significantly more) remains the same between E85 and unleaded, Hanson said the department stands to save nearly $1,000 per 25,000 miles.

“When you take into consideration our office puts on more than 400,000 patrol miles in a year, our county could benefit from the use of ethanol,” he said.

But access to the fuel can be an issue. Because Bad Axe and Harbor Beach do not have ethanol stations, Hanson said those patrols vehicles that start out of Bad Axe and Harbor Beach will frequently be forced to use unleaded fuel.

“Our deputies are being encouraged to purchase ethanol if they are in the vicinity of an ethanol station and their vehicle could use fuel,” said Hanson. “It would be pointless to specifically drive several miles in order to just buy ethanol.”

Full Story

Car buyers get efficient. Diesel sales up 46% as gas climbs.

According to a recent report by Baum and Associates, diesels, hybrids and smaller vehicles are selling like hotcakes–sales have surpassed the rest of the auto industry’s overall growth for the first quarter of 2011.

2010 Volkswagen Golf TDI

The sales of diesel vehicles soared up by 46% compared to March of last year.  Gasoline prices are to blame according to Baum. As pump prices continue to climb, the superior fuel efficiency of diesel engines is attracting attention. And the best part about driving a diesel? Using clean, American-made biodiesel to power your ride. Learn more about running biodiesel.

Baum stresses: “The trends are clear: vehicle sales are strong, and consumers want hybrids, small cars and crossovers, and are shying away from pickups and SUVs.”

Source: Baum & Associates, Green Car Congress, Autoblog Green.

Diesel Hybrids Combine the Best of Both Worlds

Geneva Motor Show – Does the future of clean transportation ride on renewable fuels or electric power? As we at Propel maintain — and as these new beauties, debuted this week at the Geneva Motor Show, demonstrate — the answer can most certainly be both. The diesel hybrid dazzlers featured below can be powered by renewable biodiesel and electricity.

Range Rover Sport Plug-In Diesel Hybrid

While there’s no word yet on whether the Range_e is intended for production, Land Rover has confirmed that this unique offering is part of its 2008 plan to reduce carbon emissions by 25% by 2012. Impressively, the SUV can travel up to 20 miles in full electric mode and returns 88mpg and 88 grams of CO2/kilometer. Power comes from both a 3.0-liter 240-horsepower TDV6  and a 69 kW electric motor that can be recharged from a standard household power supply in <4 hours.

Peugeot 908 Hybrid 4

So it’s not your daily driver. But with its 3.7-liter, 550-horsepower diesel V8 — and an on-board electric motor  that uses regenerative braking technology to provide an extra 80-horsepower spurt — Peugeot’s new endurance racer certainly inspires wide appeal. Will it be ready for the 2012 LeMans racing season? If so, Peugeot claims that the clean-burning, hybrid diesel technology will allow the 908 to stay on track longer than the average LeMans vehicle. Less pitting, more winning!

Volvo V60 Plug-In Diesel Hybrid

Who doesn’t love a sports wagon? Better yet, who doesn’t love a good looking safety machine with a diesel engine, a plug-in rechargeable electric powertrain and electric AWD? With the V60 Plug-In Hybrid, Volvo delivers all that, and more. In fact, a press release from the automaker claims the V60 Hybrid to be “three cars in one”:

1) An electric car with a range of up to 32 miles (charging time is 5 or less hours at home)
2) A high-efficiency hybrid with carbon dioxide emissions averaging just 49 g/km
3) A dynamic and engaging car with a combined output of 215 + 70 horsepower, 440 + 200 Nm of torque and acceleration from 0 to 62 mph of just 6.9 seconds

While the standard V60 is available only in European markets, Volvo CEO Stefan Jacoby hinted in January that the V60 Hybrid could make its way to the US. Only time will tell. Until then, we’ll keep our fingers crossed!

Nuts for biodiesel!

It’s big, it’s shaped like a peanut and, best of all, it runs on biodiesel.

The latest incarnation of the Planters Nutmobile is going green, using a biodiesel-powered modified Isuzu NPR box truck as the base for its fiberglass body. The nutty vehicle also touts a rooftop wind turbine, solar panels, LED interior lighting, recycled parts and reclaimed-wood floors.

It is fitting that the Planters Nutmobile should be powered by biodiesel since Rudolf Diesel originally designed his engine to run on peanut oil. There’s no word on if the biodiesel used will be of a nutty variety.

Read more from the New York Times.

Volkswagen puts diesel in the hybrid mix

Volkswagen recently revieled the XL1 Prototype, a diesel-electric plug-in hybrid with a mind-blowing 261 miles per gallon fuel economy.

The vehicle’s extreme efficiency is achieved using light weight parts, including a small two-cylinder diesel and electric plug-in engine. While VW will only be producing the XL1 for a very limited run, there are reports the manufacturer is working on a producing a slightly bigger, more conventional hybrid, the Up mini-car, which could achieve 95 miles per gallon.

Read more.