Diesel vs. Hybrid

Yet more proof from yet another city that panhandlers aren’t the ones who need the help, pulmonologist sale yet it’s like pulling teeth around here to get an ordinance that the cops can enforce against the bums that infest the Drag and downtown Austin. The homeless that deserve help are, web for the most part, phlebologist getting it from charities. These bums on street corners, on the other hand, just don’t want to work.
The same type of expose ran on one of the stations in Miami about fifteen years ago with similar results – except even more appalling; they GAVE food to one of the “Will Work For Food” guys, and he threw it away. Then they came back and gave him money and watched where he went – which, of course, was the liquor store.
I remember one time when I was walking down 6th Street from my condo to a show and was accosted by a bum for money. I ignored him; and he started following me and yelling at me. At that time, even I was rethinking my decision to be on the sidewalk at night instead of in my car, and those who know me know that doesn’t happen easily.
One of the biggest obstacles to restoring downtown Austin into a place where people want to live, work, and play is these obnoxious bums. I can’t believe that any executive thinking of moving a company’s offices downtown is going to enjoy running the gauntlet of beggars that render certain corridors stinky and barely navigable. This hurts our city’s economy as companies stay away from the center-city, where the infrastructure to support them already exists, and stay out in the burbs or leave Austin’s city limits entirely. A weak economy means less money available for the groups that really DO help the homeless.
There’s nothing noble about begging; and those who try the hardest to help the homeless actually discourage the public from donating at streetcorners; but this doesn’t stop professional protestors like Richard Troxell. I don’t know how this can be solved until people who want to help the homeless can stand up and distinguish between those who want help, and those who just want a hand-out.

This was going to be a comment at infobong to his entry about another local business biting it on the Drag, this web but I realized it was getting way too long and probably way too wonkish for that venue.
It’s a simple but sadly misunderstood formula:
# of potential customers in area has been going up (more students; more residents).
Amount of retail space has been staying the same (stupidly limited by zoning regulations which effectively prevented any redevelopment along the drag which has way too much single-story car-oriented retail and even surface parking.
Result? Higher demand (from customers); stagnant supply; more demand (from businesses) for static space = higher rents = more national chains
Solution? No parking requirements and very very very generous height limits along the Drag. But even the recent West Campus rezoning didn’t go far enough down that path – there’s still way too much emphasis on parking minimums. Properties right along Guadalupe as far north as 38th and possibly 45th should have NO required parking, online in my opinion. If you think this gives them too much of a leg up (even given the much higher rent they’ll pay than their suburban competitors), consider having them pay an “in-lieu parking fee” dedicated to mass transit and pedestrian improvements along the corridor.
That’s another piece of the formula of course, which ends up leading to a few big tenants being healthy because they can lock up access to a lot or a garage; while the little individual (usually local) tenants blight out – like what’s happening up on Guadalupe between 29th and 45th. Properties can’t redevelop because change of use between one type of commercial business and another make the grandfathered variance go away, which means they’re suddenly subject to suburban-style parking requirements.

About 3/4 of the way through the subcommittee meeting and it looks like the 3 council members are falling back into a “let’s get a consensus plan together which meets all stakeholder interests” mode which, remedy in case anybody’s forgetting, is what ended up giving us this abomination and all of the nightmare since then.
This is not a situation where compromise works. This is a situation where the Council has to CHOOSE between:
1. Parking on both sides of the street, and the elimination of Shoal Creek Boulevard as a safe and useful link in the bicycle route system for Austin (no alternates exist which come close to the length and right-of-way advantages of SCB).
2. Bicycle lanes on both sides with no parking (in the bike lanes); and on-street parking restricted to one side of the street (also known as “Option 2”).
But instead, it sure as heck looks like they’re ignoring the advice of the TTI (which was absolutely clear about what other cities do in cases like this – they do #2) in favor of kow-towing to the neighborhood yet again; inevitably ending up with some stupid combination of Option 3 and the Gandy debacle.
The worst part is Brewster’s gang of “stakeholders” which includes nobody credible from the transportation bicycling community (no, the ACA doesn’t represent these folks) and has come up with a plan to try a BUNCH of different things on the road, all but one of which (option 2) are heartily discouraged by modern roadway designers.
This is so depressing…

Councilmember McCracken wrote me back, diagnosis defending his successful attempt to draw this out further, viagra order by claiming that there was “no data about any of the options”. This is true, generic if you restrict the question to “what are the motor vehicle speeds on a roadway with bike lanes and on-street parking on one or both sides with various treatments”. However, as I noted above, the TTI was quite clear about the safety recommendation from peer cities – that being, do option 2 and do it now.
The other things McCracken wanted to put on the road in test sections, if I’m remembering correctly, were:

  • Current design (with curb extensions) – there’s really no point in doing this, unless your ONLY goal is to measure motor vehicle speeds – it’s a well-known safety hazard for all road users.
  • Painted bike lane (presumably this is in the original Gandy 10-4-6 configuration which doesn’t provide enough space for a driver to pass a cyclist who is passing a parked car)
  • Bike lane with raised markings next to either parking lane, driving lane, or both (I’m unclear whether this treatment would include parking on both sides or on one side only – the raised markings would take up enough space that it would seem to rule out the Gandy configuration, but at this point who knows).

As you can see from the linked items above, to imply that these facilities haven’t been studied isn’t particularly accurate – they have, and substantial safety problems have been noted. It’s true that nobody bothered to measure motor vehicle speed next to these various bicycle facilities – frankly because nobody cared – the speed of a car when it hits you on one of these roads isn’t particularly important – whether that car is going 25 or 35 when it runs over you because you slipped on a raised curb marking, for instance, isn’t very relevant.

I just posted this to the allandale yahoo group but it bears repeating to a more general audience.

--- In allandale@yahoogroups.com, purchase  "kayn7"  wrote:
> Some of the neighbors in HPWBANA tried the nice approach and working
> with them - the students were - to say the least - not responsive and
> some were abusive. The neighbors on Hartford call the police and
> Varisty Properties owners on a regular basis because of parking on
> lawns, ask  loud late night parties, beer cans thrown in yards.

This entire process (and I live next door to a duplex full of UT Wranglers who occasionally cause similar problems) is an unintended consequence of something which your neighborhood and mine probably supports – that being restrictions on multifamily development.
Most of these kids (not all, but most) don’t have any particular interest in living in a house instead of a condo or apartment – but the artificially low-density development around UT for decades has forced them to either live out in Far West or Riverside and take a slow poky shuttle to school, or get together with a bunch of buddies and rent a house (and be able to carpool to school or take a much quicker and shorter bus ride, or bike or walk). I’d probably pick the same thing if I were in their shoes – I’ve seen how long it takes to bus in from those areas; my next-door neighbors can walk the 10 blocks to campus in half the time it takes those other schlubs to bus there.
(I know from my experience in college that when the market provides enough near-campus apartments, far fewer kids end up in rental houses – this was at Penn State, in case anybody cares).
So you can thank the decades of foolhardy opposition to density (height restrictions and moronic suburban parking requirements) in West Campus for a lot of this. Unfortunately, the recent rezonings are too little too late for most of us – it will be another decade or two before the number of new apartments there can begin to stem the tide.

Summary: for decades, inner-city neighborhoods pushed the city to keep building heights low, require way too much parking, and otherwise restrict high-density development near UT despite the fact that students living in this area WALK to class. UT doesn’t provide even half as many dorms as the students would seem to need; the near-campus market doesn’t have enough tall buildings to make up the difference (not even as many as Penn State has, despite having an oversupply of dorms); so students end up in rental houses, even though they have no interest in yardwork and get hassled a lot more by the neighbors (like me) than they would in an apartment in West Campus. Be careful of what you ask for.

Finally somebody in the mainstream press gets it. From the Atlanta Journal Constitution, glands 12/5/2005:

There are two kinds of people: Us and them. And where the line falls between the two depends entirely on context.
Sometimes us and them is a matter of gender — “Men Are From Mars, discount Women Are From Venus, capsule ” as the book title goes. Or, as columnist Maureen Dowd asks in her new book, “Are Men Necessary?”
At other times, we define us and them by racial or political differences, or even by something as frivolous as the sports team we follow. In fact, a lot of the appeal of sports is the opportunity to root hard for our side against their side; as a lifelong New York Yankee hater, I can personally attest to the pleasures that can bring.
Then there’s the line we draw depending on how and where we live. To suburban dwellers, the city is often viewed as a corrupt heart of darkness, in more ways than one. To city dwellers, the suburbs are perceived as rather soulless and pale, again in more ways than one.
Those tensions play out in a lot of ways, even coloring discussions about how booming areas such as Atlanta ought to develop. Too often, what ought to be a straightforward, even technical discussion of various land-use approaches can devolve into just another battleground in the ongoing culture wars, just another example of us against them.
For example, one of the Atlanta region’s biggest challenges is controlling sprawl, a development pattern that consumes tax dollars and open land and greatly complicates transportation planning and environmental problems. One of the options available to mitigate sprawl and its impact is an approach called “smart growth” — areas of higher-density development that mix residential, commercial and business uses.
Unfortunately, though, some suburban dwellers hear criticism of sprawl as some sort of a value-laden condemnation of suburban life. They respond by launching a defense of sprawl that can be paraphrased with the following:
“What others deride as sprawl is actually just the free market at work, the result of millions of Americans choosing the lifestyle they prefer. And any effort to control or limit ‘sprawl’ is a misuse of government power promoted by elitists who want to instruct us common folk how to live.”
Well, I’ve covered enough county commission and zoning board meetings to know that’s just romantic mythology.
First of all, the free market, left to its own devices, produces dense development, not sprawl. Developers want to put as many units as possible on their property, because that’s how they make the most profit; you don’t see them going to court demanding the right to build fewer homes per acre.
Sprawl is possible only through intense government regulation. It is an artificial growth pattern achieved by laws that frustrate the free market’s tendency toward density. The free market, left to its own devices, would never produce five-acre minimum lot sizes, or 2,500-square-foot minimum house sizes, or bans and moratoriums on apartments. The free market, left to its own devices, would produce growth patterns more like “smart-growth” policies.
In fact, smart-growth alternatives impose fewer restrictions on developers than does sprawl-inducing zoning, and infringe less dramatically on developers’ property rights. Philosophically speaking, it ought to be a conservative’s dream.
The claim that critics of sprawl are elitist is equally hard to swallow, given that one of the hallmarks of sprawl is economic segregation. Go to a county commission meeting and you’ll see owners of $500,000 homes on five-acre lots protesting the construction of $250,000, one-acre homes nearby, and owners of $250,000 homes fighting against apartments and town houses.
Sprawl is not a rejection of elitism; it is the expression of elitism. It is people using the power of government to protect “us” against the incursion of “them.”
That is not, however, an argument in favor of trying to eliminate suburban growth patterns or the suburban lifestyle. Such things are ingrained in metro Atlanta, and are a large part of the region’s success. Here in Georgia, only the most zealous of smart-growth advocates want to ban large-lot zoning and other sprawl-inducing mechanisms. Instead, they ask only that zoning laws be relaxed enough to allow smart-growth developments to compete for customers, so that people can be given a real choice.
Given the success of smart-growth projects around metro Atlanta, when people are given that choice, they jump at it.
• Jay Bookman is the deputy editorial page editor. His column appears Mondays and Thursdays.

One thing which has been a minor irritant to me for a long time is this:
If TXDOT truly abandoned plans for the “Outer Loop” around Austin (environmental and economic catastrophe for Austin proper that it would have clearly been), symptoms why have they retained the same route number for SH 45 “S” and SH 45 “N”?
It’s an article of faith around these parts that the Outer Loop won’t be built, yet nobody seems to point out that TXDOT keeps calling the roads which would have formed the northern and southern parts of this loop by the same number. Why does nobody but me find this fishy?
My guess: TXDOT is still keeping the flame of the “Outer Loop” lit against the hated hippies of Central Austin. I can’t come up with any other logical reason why they wouldn’t want to give the two roads different numbers. Any other ideas?

A lot of folks, thumb including an attempted commenter from earlier today whose comment got rejected for some reason I have yet to determine, look think I’m a liberal. Those folks is wrong most of the time.
For instance, this story bugs me, especially this part:

One 70-year-old Maine LIHEAP recipient, who asked not to be named, says that she gets through the winter by keeping her thermostat at 62 degrees.

I keep our thermostat at 60 at night; 65 during the day; and make sure to open blinds to get as much solar heating as possible when the sun is up. If I lived up north, I’d go colder. 62? Give me a break. How about putting on another sweater? For most of human history, people in cold climates would have thought 62 was heavenly warm.

This is pretty much how I feel about what Microsoft’s done to the computer software industry. Unfortunately, bronchitis the site for which Julian writes pretty much takes Microsoft at their word and buys the “statists envious of successful corporation” version of the story.
It’s even remarkably timely.
So please imagine a world in which:

  • Meaningful commercial operating system competition existed, thus pushing Windows to actually satisfy customer needs rather than those of its business partners’. IE, what we had from the 80s through the early 90s.
  • Non-trivial commercial office suite competition existed, meaning that Word, Excel, and the lot would have to be GOOD, not just good enough.
  • Commercial browser competition had existed for the last 5 years, meaning IE wouldn’t have been able to take half a decade off after Netscape died.

And, no, open source can’t save us, with the trivial exception of browsers (which just aren’t all that complicated compared to the other things above). I’ve been using linux, on server and desktop, at my last three jobs. I even prefer it for work. That doesn’t make it a competitor serious enough to do much good, even though Microsoft has to say it does so they look good for the media. (In 2005, I couldn’t get sound working on a friggin’ mass-market HP-Compaq box running Red Hat Linux (and later, same problem with Debian) – and I was far from the only one).
The third-grade libertarians out there replied at the time: “the market will save us” – pointing to the transition to the internet, which would supposedly make operating system monopolies a non-issue. Problem is – Microsoft knew that was a threat and fairly effectively (and obnoxiously) killed it.

Round Rock doesn’t pay Capital Metro taxes. They decided a long time ago that they didn’t want to be part of the system. Great. I wish we Austinites could similarly exempt ourselves from paying taxes which build their roads for them, search but here we are.
So where does Krusee and rail come into this, prothesis then?
CAMPO is about to approve using Federal money to build an “intermodal transit center” in downtown Round Rock, which will include a new bus line which connects to a Capital Metro Park-n-Ride in far North Austin.
Let me repeat again: Citizens of Austin subsidize bus rides on Capital Metro by paying a 1% sales tax. Citizens of Round Rock pay nothing to Capital Metro.
These park and rides (and the express buses which stop there) are fairly attractive today for a small subset of commuters who have to pay money to park at their office (mainly UT employees; a few folks downtown). So some people, even when not in the Cap Metro service area, drive to the park and ride and then hop the bus (paying the same low fare as an Austin resident would). Until recently, the main places this ‘freeloading rider’ problem occurred were Pflugerville (which voted themselves out of the system – Cap Metro responded by moving their park and ride what seemed like 500 feet further down the road towards Austin) and Cedar Park (who can freeload on either Leander or Austin).
Now we’ve just opened one of these at the far north fringe of the service area (near Howard Lane).
I have asked Cap Metro in the past (when I was on the UTC) whether they realized that building more park-and-rides at the far fringes of their service area would lead to this ‘freeloading rider’ problem; and they said, yes, it would, and no, they didn’t intend to do anything about it.
So now, to add insult to injury, we’re using area-wide tax revenue to build a project which will make it easier for Round Rock residents to ride Capital Metro, where they will be heavily subsidized (far more than Austin riders) by Austin taxpayers. This will further drive down Cap Metro’s fairly abyssmal “farebox recovery ratio”. And Cap Metro is enthusiastic about this.
Is Round Rock going to institute a 1% sales tax to pay for Capital Metro service? Hell no. They can’t, even if they wanted to; they’re maxed out. Is Cap Metro going to demand that passengers provide proof of residence inside the service area before getting the heavily discounted fare? Hell no. They won’t, even if they wanted to.
But could Capital Metro build light rail for urban Austin where most of their tax revenue comes from? No, that was ‘too expensive’. If you’re appropriately slavish in your praise, Kaiser Krusee might deign to bless you with some streetcars which are stuck in traffic behind his constituents’ cars. Just don’t point out that by the time we’ve built a bunch of worthless commuter rail lines and a streetcar loop, we might as well have just built the 2000 light rail plan – it would have been no more expensive and far more effective.
Anybody see anything wrong with this picture?
More to come.

For the crackplreaders (need a better name!) who were buggin’ me about the lack of updates, orthopedist note this is the THIRD THIRD THIRD! POST POST POST! OF THE DAY DAY DAY!
Don’t know why, but this guy/band really stuck in my head – I got one of their songs in the giant SXSW 2005 torrent and was impressed enough to go grab the other three free tunes off their site. My in-laws gave me a Waterloo gift certificate for Xmas, so I can buy some music for the first time since, uh, last Xmas, but I don’t think I can this there. Oh well.
Check it out. If your brane is wired anything like mine, you’ll like it.
Also check out that torrent. A ton of songs which various bands thought was their best chance at making it – so 99% of them are very good to excellent.

Finally almost caught up on the albums for 2005:

Most SUV drivers, check sad to say, visit web were perfectly happy to drive them when SUVs appeared to be a zero-sum game, seek i.e., if you drove an SUV, sure you killed more people in cars, but your own passengers were safer at about the same proportion. Because, after all, protecting your own family is the only thing that matters – so it doesn’t matter if it happens by making it much more likely that others will die.
And, of course, most people who bother to study the issue always knew they got special treatment allowing them to enjoy more lenient fuel economy, pollution, tax, and safety regulations (pre-1999).
But recently we’ve found out that they’re also more dangerous for pedestrians and finally, the conventional wisdom among those who study the vehicles that they really aren’t safer for their own occupants than would be a sedan has been borne out in a recent study involving kids. Yes, the same kids you claim you bought the SUV for.
I guess you still have that high riding position to hang your hat on. Oh, and the donating of all that excess money to Middle Eastern regimes we’re all big fans of. Way to go, guys.

From today’s Chronicle, sale in reference to last week’s 37th street lights / student housing complaint:

More Apartments Near UT

Dear Editor, medicine

Mary-Gay Maxwell’s complaints about houses rented out to too many students strike home for a lot of us [“Are Partiers Dimming the 37th Street Lights?, pilule ” News, Dec. 30]. I live in her neighborhood, next to a duplex full of undergrads who are occasionally a problem despite a landlord who’s more responsible than most.

But let’s be clear: Most college kids don’t particularly want to live in a house. It’s more work than an apartment, you don’t get a pool or an entertainment room, you have more worries about parking and roommates, etc.

So why are so many UT students living in rental houses, compared to cities with other large colleges (such as Penn State)? Well, for one, UT doesn’t have many dorms. Not much we can do about that out here in the community. But there’s another contributing factor here: This area doesn’t have anywhere near enough near-campus apartments to satisfy demand. Some students would doubtlessly still live in rental houses, but a large majority would switch back to apartments, as they do at other big universities. It’s ludicrous that there’s so much low-density development (single-story even) along Guadalupe close to campus.

Living off Far West or Riverside (in low-density apartment sprawl) is a poor substitute to being able to walk (or ride your bike) to class – a slow, stuck-in-traffic shuttle bus isn’t going to win the battle against close-in rental houses. So it’s clear we need more near-campus high-density apartment development – and the recent rezoning of West Campus is a good start, but not nearly enough. The problem today, though, is that we’re still dealing with the effects of the last 20-30 years of ill-advised obstruction tactics by near-campus neighborhoods to any and all apartment development. Villas on Guadalupe, anyone?

Unfortunately, this lack of near-campus high-density apartment housing was, in fact, created by neighbors like Maxwell through their irresponsible opposition to essential projects like the Villas. Too bad that people like me (living a few blocks from those 37th lights) have to suffer the consequences with her.

Mike Dahmus

I just posted the following in the comments of this post on Austin’s metroblog (which, rubella somehow, despite my focus on Austin politics, mostly ignores this blog’s existence). Adam Rice also posted a good article on his theories on why the lights are going away which is much more informative and doubtlessly much more correct than my own.
Since the comment appears to have been held for moderation, I reproduce it here (this is in response to both Ray, who lives a bit to my east, and the other guy, who is a member of the Suck It Up You Knew What You Were Buying Into contingent):

To present a third pole to the geography of this discussion, I, personally, blame the folks running the center-city neighborhood organizations for the last couple of decades who basically shut down all apartment development near UT for most of that time (finally starting to have their grip on the City Council loosened about the time the Villas on Guadalupe made it through despite their vicious and obnoxious opposition).
If, as would have happened in a city run by responsible adults rather than pander-to-neighborhood-lunatics-at-all-costs-types like Jackie Goodman, we had built BIG BIG BIG buildings along Guadalupe and points further west (within walking distance of campus) when demand was indicated, instead of playing catch-up only TODAY, we wouldn’t have nearly as many kids in rental houses – because, frankly, most college kids could give a crap if they have a yard – they’d probably rather have a pool and a workout room. But they sure as hell might rather live in a house within a bike ride of campus than in a crappy apartment on Far West or Riverside where they get a long, unreliable, and jerky shuttle-bus ride to school every day…
(I live nextdoor to a duplex full of UT Wranglers who have been problematic at times despite having a very responsible landlord – the guy who sold me the house and moved near Far West to be closer to Anderson High. Even with a good landlord, I feel bad about calling as much as I do – this is Not Fun Stuff).

Many folks who are pretty clearly disingenuously rooting for hybrid automobiles to go away because they don’t like their implications for US automakers like to harp on the supposed superiority of diesel cars. Coincidentally, salve I just got an issue of Consumer Reports in the mail where the new Jetta TDI goes up against the new Civic Hybrid. Some stats from the article:

Car City Hwy 0-60 time
Jetta TDI 24 mpg 46 mpg 12.2 seconds
Civic Hybrid 26 mpg 47 mpg 11.7 seconds
Prius 35 mpg 50 mpg 11.3 seconds

And of course, about it the Civic Hybrid pollutes a hell of a lot less than does the Jetta, even with the forthcoming cleaner diesel fuel. The Prius is the cleanest of the lot and considerably larger than the Civic or Jetta. (I don’t remember the 0-60 time for the Prius).
So, folks, the next time somebody tells you that hybrids are a joke compared to diesels, be aware they’re selling you a load of bunk. Even in highway driving where diesels were supposed to be better, it turns out hybrids are winning in the real world.
(acceleration figures are from the magazine for Jetta and Civic Hybrid; attempted to get CR’s figure for Prius via google, but may be unreliable; other sites have its 0-60 all over the map from sub-10 seconds to more like 12).



36 thoughts on “Diesel vs. Hybrid

  1. Where are the figures for the Golf TDI? And you might take a look at the USA Today road test. Result: “Jetta lived up to its one-tank billing. Prius did not.”
    I’ve driven them all; I bought the Golf. I have a friend who races Enduro – he’s buying a Golf TDI for it. I have a co-worker who drives a Prius; we get the same mileage, but I drive at least 20 mph faster than he does on average. My wife has a friend who races and currently drives a WRX; she’s trading it in for a TDI after one test drive.
    I wouldn’t say that hybrids are a joke, but so far they have felt like the engineers who designed them definitely road the train to work.

  2. The Prius has a 10.9 gallon fuel tank, quite a bit smaller than the Jetta’s fuel tank. Simply having a magazine state that “the Jetta lived up to it’s one-tank claim while the Prius did not” is about normal for current media. It is a total nonsense.
    I’ve obtained an easy 51 mpg average on my Prius, which will give me a 550 mile range if I chanced it. I’ve tried doing it once – and put in 10.7 gallons – that was cutting it WAY too close – so I won’t do that again!

  3. Eric,
    The article didn’t test the Golf. Probably because it’s even smaller, and hence not a direct competitor to the Civic et al? I dunno.
    Obviously mileage ain’t everything or most Prius drivers would be driving Insights. But for a midsize car to beat all of these compact cars in fuel economy is a real achievement – one that should be celebrated, not downplayed.

  4. Glenn,
    I have a friend who still works at IBM in Austin (commutes in daily from Round Rock) and has averaged 56 on a tank. (I think his typical average is now around 54).
    We don’t do anywhere near as well – way too many 1 mile trips on cold engine to the grocery store, not many 30-minute drives. Where the EPA’s test really screwed up was city driving – the assumption that most city trips were 30 minute traipses through the city doesn’t hold up for anybody I know. The highway mileage, on the other hand, was spot on.
    And on the rare occasions when we DO drive in the city for 30 minutes, we do, in fact, hit around 60.

  5. The Golf interior is as large as the Jetta (same “frame”), i.e. about the same size as a Civic.
    I’ve gotten to 810 miles on a tank, but I had to go 60 mph the whole time (and those last few miles were harrowing because I didn’t know where it would end).

  6. Eric,
    The CR article tested the Jetta because it’s brand new. Presumably a Golf will eventually come out on the same platform if your comments are correct? Nevertheless, given how large a gap existed in CR’s testing between the Jetta TDI and the Prius, it’s doubtful an updated Golf would come close.
    What we seem to have here is a case where the diesel drivers who are getting the BEST mileage possible on their platform are treating their mileage as ‘real-world’ against the LOWEST mileage estimates for the corresponding hybrid competitors. Apples to oranges, in other words.
    When I searched on “Golf Prius”, the only applicable sites I found in the first page or so were (a) comments about the greater CO2 emissions from the Golf (which has to be from fuel economy) and (b) FUD from the diesel guys about how you have to replace Prius batteries frequently.

  7. If you look a little closer at the USA Today article, it states that the Prius’ display said it got 51.7 MPG, which is substantially better than the Jetta’s 44 MPG. The writer probably didn’t know about the Prius’ flexible fuel bladder and took the calculated MPG of 38 to be the more accurate number.
    Anyone who owns a Prius knows that the flexible fuel bladder causes the tank to have an inconsistent volume, so you can’t measure fuel economy by using the volume of a fill up. I’ve tracked my own fuel economy, and the hand-computed MPG tends to fluctuate around the displayed MPG, indicating that the displayed MPG is the more accurate number. I just find it unlucky that the hand-computed MPG happened to be inaccurate on the low side rather than the high side.
    Incidentally, I consistently get 51 to 54 MPG on the highway, so the displayed MPG of 51.7 in the article is about right.

  8. Hybrids are limited and now are only used with gas engines. Put a hybrid electric motor with a diesel engine and see 70 mpg. This is far less limiting plus the advantage of using biofuel will make our consumption of crude oil decrease dramatically. This is the way to go until fuel cells and hydrogen come to fruitation.

  9. Unlikely. Diesel-electric hybrids haven’t been very successful so far even as prototypes except in very very large vehicles. From what I read, too many of the advantages of each overlap – meaning you carry the extra weight / pay the extra cost twice for the same benefit.
    Biofuel only helps if the EROEI is well above 1.0. No commercial production comes close today.

  10. M1EK,
    There are a great number of prototypes already gettting between 70 and 115 mpg using hybrid electric joined with a diesel motor. Besides, diesels can be run with used agricultural oils (low cost, environmentally friendly). Subaru, Peugot, VW, Mercedes, Ford and Chrysler already have working prototypes. The Ford Reflex may be in production by 2009 getting 65 mpg while also accelerating at under 7 seconds 0-60, and looks very sporty. Hydrogen cells and ethanol are also moving into production in the next 5 years. Diesel hybrids offer more benefits than any gas hybrid ever could and is definitely a move in the right direction.

  11. Donan,
    If we’re comparing prototypes, Toyota’s 3rd-gen Prius is rumored to be shooting for >100 mpg. I prefer to compare what we can see today – the 2nd gen Prius is making Toyota a profit at 55 mpg; and no diesel of similar size can come remotely close.

  12. The average mpg from Prius drivers is only 44 mpg not 55. In Europe, the Lupo and Polo both exceed the Prius mpg as does the Honda Insight. The 3rd generation Prius will not make 100 mpg because it is a gasser. Diesel engines achieve at least 25% greater fuel efficiency. Diesel will always beat a gasser of the same size and vehicle weight. My VW gets 45 mpg without any special driving techniques mandated by hybrid gassers. I hate to tell you this, but diesel powered vehicles will more than quadriple in the next 4 years. The Prius will either convert to diesel (yes, Toyota has two diesels already for sale outside the United States) or be left behind when newer vehicles will achieve 70 mpg and up. VW has one car ready for production hybrid diesel capable of 118 mpg, though the strict emissions requirements in the U.S. are holding it up. With the introduction of ultra-low sulfur diesel, more biodiesel pumps becoming available daily, and the use of agricultural oils as fuel; diesels will have no trouble becoming as popular in the U.S. as they are in Europe (where nearly 50% of all vehicles sold there are diesel). Watch the gas prices go up, and with it diesel sales too. Nice positive correlation between the two. Thanks Bush for this wonderful economy.

  13. That’s apples and oranges – again, you’re comparing midsize hybrid Prius to small diesel (or to diesels with comparably little power, or both; the US VW’s are smaller AND slower).
    And yes, the Prius gets 44 when driven naively – but it still beat VW’s US diesels in the same exact test when driven the same exact way in both city AND highway mileage. So it’s difficult to see this incredible technological advantage you assert. If you’re getting 45 in your diesel, you’d probably be getting a lot more in the Prius, since you’re overachieving compared to what CR was able to do.
    Again, Toyota supposedly has a 3rd-gen Prius on the way at 100 mpg. If you can use prototypes, so can I. Otherwise, we’re limited to head-to-head comparisons, and so far, the Prius has kicked every diesel competitor to the curb (even the smaller ones).

  14. Curb weight, Toyota Prius = 2921 lbs.
    Volkswagen Jetta = 3352
    Sounds like you got it backwards as far as size goes. The Jetta gets 45 mpg without an electric hybrid motor added. Add hybrid technology to a diesel and see that 45 mpg change to 57 mpg. I advise you to read up on diesel fuel efficiency compared with gassers. The Prius has not beat diesels in mpg comparisons. I get 700 miles per tankful, what does that Prius of yours get? If you think I am making this up, please visit tdiclub.com and see how some people there achieve 800-1000 miles per tankful with their Golf and Jetta. http://www.usatoday.com/money/autos/2004-06-10-diesel-vs-hybrid_x.htm
    Best price Toyota Prius from Carsdirect.com = $25,559 compared with best price for a VW Jetta = $22,235. Oops beat the Prius again. Now, let’s go to the pump. Regular unleaded at $3.09 per gallon while diesel is at $2.85. Oops Prius beat again. Prius is a bandaid and still relies on foreign oil. Diesel run on Wesson oil, used McDonald’s grease, biodiesel mixture, or diesel fuel at the pump, less reliance on foreign oil to no reliance on foreign oil. Along with diesel engines, hydrogen fuel cells, and ethanol have a chance to take the place of regular gassers. Sorry, but the Prius’ days are numbered while my diesel’s future is expanding to markets all over the world. Have you driven a diesel lately?

  15. If we get the 75% of claimed fuel economy like we have been getting from recent hybrids, then the next generation real world fuel economy will be 48 mpg-no where near your claim of 100 mpg. I think you need to join me over in the diesel camp.

  16. If Toyota is smart, they will add a plug in variant to the Prius line up and use lithium battery packs for longer life and less weight. These two add ons could yeild very positive fuel efficiency gains.

  17. I apologize. I found a blog reporting 113mpg for a prototype Prius with lithium batteries (though it used British gallons which are larger than ours, but still would equate to roughly 94mpg U.S.) with plug in variant a possibility too. So, yes, they will push the envelope for gassers and could garner an $8000 tax credit if they achieve their goal. So, Prius is not yet done it looks promising.

  18. So, now we add this technology to a diesel and see roughly 125-130 mpg U.S. How does that sound?

  19. Donan,
    Read the beginning of this article – you know, the one that you’ve been commenting to all this time. The Prius beat the Jetta TDI head-to-head in both city and highway driving when both were driven by the same (probably typically lead-footed) driver at CR. Comparing “best” mileage from an enthusiast site for diesels against the “worst” mileage from CR for hybrids is exactly the kind of apples-and-oranges anti-hybrid FUD that I was writing about to begin with. If you can pick diesel-enthusiast mileage, then we’re back up to 60 mpg for the Prius.
    As for size – the Prius is classified by the EPA as a midsized (family) car. The fact that the Jetta _weighs_ so much is amazing considering it’s not very big. The EPA classifies the Jetta as a small car.
    And around these parts, diesel is usually more expensive than regular.
    What, exactly, is your agenda here? Every single thing you post is pretty easily disproven.

  20. Plus to equal the equipment on the Jetta, the Prius buyer would have to pay extra for electric seats, stability control, additional air bags, security system, mp3 player, and 12 months more warranty. I would say the Jetta is looking pretty good to me.

  21. The interior and exterior dimensions are nearly identical between the two cars. The weight difference makes the Jetta feel more substantial and safe. In fact, it outscored the Prius in government crash tests. For thousands less, I choose the Jetta. Why are you ignoring the article from USA Today? CR reports gas test is not real world. It combines three very short drives totally 150 miles.

  22. Donan,
    The USA Today article is fatally flawed – measuring a “tank” without talking about how many gallons were in there, and without mentioning that the Prius, for reasons of emissions, has a variably-sized fuel tank which makes readings “at the pump” notoriously unreliable.
    Why are you resuscitating this FUD?
    The Prius is a midsize car by EPA standards; the Jetta is not. Period.

  23. The Jetta is listed at 107 cu. ft. total interior volume and the Prius is at 112 cu. ft. interior volume including the hatchback. I doubt anyone would feel it is a smaller car. Have you driven both? I have and I made my choice accordingly. It is important for all of us to look at all the data available. The bottom line is that diesel compete very well against hybrids. My point is add hybrid technology to diesel cars/trucks and we will get an even better product on the road which is what I hope we both want. USA Today is as flawed a mileage study as CR. It appears that CR is not the gospel it is made out to be. I can offer you many statistical errors CR makes if you would like me to get into that discussion, then let me know.

  24. Donan,
    CR’s test is fair – even though they rate the Prius far lower than what we get, because we try to get good mileage (they don’t). The difference between that test and what USA Today did is that USA Today made a measurement error (the flexible fuel bladder makes it unreliable to measure fuel consumption at the pump).
    And, frankly, diesel hybrid doesn’t make much sense to me. Too much overlapping efficiency to justify the added cost.

  25. One thing about diesel fuel, it foams. You can never get an accurate pump measurement unless you vent it. By this, you let the tank exhale (relieve itself of foam) and get the exact same fill each time. If I just stop pumping diesel when the pump first kicks off, I am about 2 gallons short of full. I would venture to guess that CR and many other publications do not vent when filling a diesel. Two gallons is almost 100 miles more per tank. Anyway, back to my suggestion of a diesel hybrid. Diesels run about $1000 to $1500 over the price of a comparable gasser. Add another $3000 to $5000 for hybrid technology. Example, Gas Jetta costs around $22,000. Diesel Jetta around $23,000. If there were a hybrid offered as well, it should be in the neighborhood of $26-$29000. This is a reasonably priced automobile especially since it would be getting about 70 mpg. This could save some people who are still driving cars getting 20 mpg a lot of money. I think it will be well worth it.

  26. CR does not fill the fuel tank up. Diesel fuel foams and needs to be vented in order to fill it up to the top and consistently. Check out the April 24th AutoWeek, Jetta got 49.9mpg and the Prius got 42mpg. Also, diesels do not need to be driven gingerly to accomplish top fuel returns while hybrid gassers do. Diesels are outperforming hybrids without having the added hybrid technology. Like I said before, add the hybrid technology to it and the gasser hybrids are left even further back.

  27. The AutoWeek test is such an outlier that it would seem more likely that they somehow screwed up the hybrid measurement – for instance, repeating the USA Today error of measuring fuel at the tank instead of trusting the readout.
    If diesels have such a hard time with adequate measurement, it would seem logical to have the same kind of readout for confirmation of fuel economy.
    Frankly, I have to wonder about your objectivity here, though, with the continual references to “gassers” and the like. The fact is that the Prius is beating the Jetta in every highway test in which the car’s computer is read – and you keep reaching for future prototypes to bolster diesel’s case while refusing to do so for hybrid. All while ignoring the fact that the Prius is the next size class up from the Jetta.

  28. M1EK,
    So, is the latest issue of road and track an outlier as well? They finished a **two year** test on their prius, and it got 41 mpg. seems like a pretty accurate example of what one could expect in the “real world”, wouldn’t you say?
    Your last comment about objectivity literally made me laugh, as it just oozed of throwing stones in a glass house. Both cars have their advantages, but you won’t concede any where the Jetta is concerned, like long distance highway travel – an area where the prius cannot use it’s regen feature.
    At the end of the day, I chose the jetta and got more car for the money, better crash results, better highway mileage, and a car I won’t be scared of owning in ten years.
    I do wish a wagon was available, and salute the utilty of the hatchbatch on the prius. something the latest gen Jetta TDI does not yet offer.

  29. Haven’t seen it yet, but yes, that would qualify, and if they drove the Jetta for that long, it’d finally be an apples-to-apples comparison along the lines of CR’s test in which the Prius just destroyed the Jetta in the city, and beat it even on the highway.
    Do you have R&T’s 2-year results for the Jetta?
    I can easily believe that at higher cruising speeds, the Prius’ highway advantage over the Jetta diminishes or even eventually reverses, by the way, but you still then need to deal with the fact that the Prius is a midsize car, and the Jetta just a compact.

  30. So, now do you believe me that diesels do quite well? Have you looked up any other articles? I read this cool article about using unpumped air in the engine as its own source of energy as well as another technology that converts heat from the exhaust into usable energy. Both these technologies together could increase fuel mileage by 25%. Not bad. Looks like the internal combustion engine has life still. The only viable competitor I see is the hydrogen cell which still seems years away.

  31. Donan,
    Still waiting for an explanation of the Prius’ outlier performance. Most likely one so far is that they repeated the USA Today error of measuring at the pump (unreliable due to the fuel tank bladder).

  32. Donan,
    I went through and read the entire comment thread on one of those links before giving up in amazement – it’s the same old FUD over and over and over again. “you’ll have to buy a new battery!” (No, you won’t). “it gets worse mileage than the Jetta!” (No, it doesn’t). Etc.
    Apart from the outliers which apparently measured fuel consumption at the pump (reasonable to do for most cars, just not the Prius), EVERY SINGLE TEST HAS SHOWN THE PRIUS BEATING THE JETTA, EVEN ON THE HIGHWAY.
    This is the end of this thread.

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