The Anti-Diesel Jihad Expands

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For reasons that aren’t inscrutable (give me a minute – I’ll explain) the jihad against diesels  is metastasizing to include FiatChrysler.

The combine – which subsumes the Jeep and Ram truck brands – has been accused of selling diesels that emit “as much as 20 times” the maximum allowable quantity of an exhaust byproduct, oxides of nitrogen (NOx).

This is exactly what got VW nailed to the cross. And it’s exactly the same demagogic coverage. “As much as 20 times” the allowable maximum!

Good god, it sounds apocalyptic! A lung-melting catastrophe!

Except of course it’s not.

A bureaucratic standard may have been affronted – that is all.

Note the “as much as . . .” verbiage. As in, could be – or might be. As opposed to something exact.

Weasel words, the sort of copy an advertising shyster would use to hawk a product that didn’t actually do a damned thing but the words implied it did because it might. It is of a piece with third-empty cereal boxes – the box itself meant to make you think you are getting what you just paid for.

Only, it’s worse, because in this case there is nothing in the box.

Nothing in whole numbers, that is.

As in the VW crucifixion, the standard affronted amounts to a difference of less than half of one percent. If you don’t know this, you don’t know your Tiers and Bins – EPA-speak for the various levels and thresholds for allowable exhaust emissions. The difference between one Tier and Bin and the next is fractional.

I bold this out of exasperation.Because it is never explained by the media. Search for yourself and see. It is outrageous, a monstrous dereliction of duty. Because with explanation, without qualification, the “as much as 20 times” business creates an egregiously false impression.

People have been grossly misled about the extent to which new cars do not pollute. The whole aim of practical politics, as H.L. Mencken once said, is to menace the public with dangers – all of them false – so as to instill in them a hysterical fear and make them clamorous to be led to safety.

Exactly so.

Most new cars with gas engines qualify as Partial Zero Emissions (PZEV) under the EPA’s Tiers and Bins – that is to say, they emit almost nothing offensive to human health. And recent-issue diesel-powered cars are within hair-splitting difference of that standard. But because they fall on the other side of the hair – so claims the EPA, at any rate – they must be extirpated.

Well, EPA doesn’t actually say that – but the Tiers and Bins will end up having the same effect: Outlaw diesels by regulatory fiat. Make it impossible to design and build a diesel engine that qualifies for the latest Tiers and Bins while also still being priced such that people would actually be interested in possibly buying the thing and while also delivering the attributes – high mileage and lower over-the-road maintenance costs – that make people interested in diesel engines, regardless of price. 

This is becoming not possible.

It is why Mercedes just pulled out of the diesel market in the U.S. You can no longer buy the excellent BlueTec turbo-diesel in models like the E-Class sedan and several other Benz models that formerly offered it. Not because it doesn’t meet the current Tiers and Bins – but because Mercedes decided it won’t be possible to meet the next round of Tiers and Bins, the next splitting of hairs, without either unacceptable costs or unacceptable functional gimps that buyers won’t tolerate.

Mazda is supposed to be offering the Sky-D diesel if sells everywhere else sometime next year in models like the CX5, a small crossover SUV – after more than two years of withholding it. But don’t hold your breath. The Tiers and Bins.

So, why?

I think because diesels actually work.

Economically work.

Unlike, say, electric cars – which are given every form of automotive affirmative action conceivable, including massive subsidies as well as a Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell policy with regard to the very real “environmental impact” of these things – which can be measured in whole numbers.

They are economically preposterous.

A modern turbo-diesel powered car, on the other hand, can be manufactured and sold for around $21,000 (VW did exactly that until EPA stomped them).

It can also deliver near-hybrid fuel economy, without the extra cost of the hybrid technology – negating the hybrid’s slight mileage advantage. For example, last week I test drove the 2017 Toyota Prius hybrid. It achieved about 56.2 MPG, which is excellent. However, the last VW Jetta TDI I test drove – before VW had to jerk them off the market – achieved 51 MPG. The diesel VWs routinely exceeded the EPA mileage numbers touted.

When you take into account the Toyota’s price tag – which is about $2,500 higher than the VW’s – the 5-ish MPG advantage the hybrid has is a wash, as far as economics.

Ans the Prius is the only hybrid that gets that kind of mileage. Or costs only a couple thousand more than a car like the TDI-powered Jetta.

The Chevy Volt costs $33,200 – about $11k more than the TDI Jetta.

A Tesla electric car is even more economically preposterous – as are all electric cars.

It begs the question – why are they being pushed so hard when they are economically preposterous? Of what use is a “zero emissions” (not!) electric car that very few people could afford to drive? How does it “save the planet” or “reduce the carbon footprint” for a tiny handful – in terms of the general population – of affluent people to motor around in $40k-plus electric cars?

The answer, of course, is that it does neither.

But that is not the true object of the exercise. Which, I have come to believe, is to make it very, very costly to motor – which will have the effect of making it an indulgence of the affluent while the Masses take the bus.

Diesel power is a problem for this agenda because it isn’t economically idiotic. High efficiency and a low price means problem solved. . .  if the problem is vehicles that use “too much” fuel, as the ruling class constantly singsongs about.

Because diesels are both efficient and affordable, they represent an affront to hybrid and electric vehicles which are neither. They are a pebble in the shoe of the people pushing an agenda very different from the one publicly spoken of.

This isn’t about economy. It is about mobility.

It is about restricting mobility.

Diesels aren’t dirty – not by any standard based on that which can be measured in the form of measurable harm caused to actual human beings. It is telling that the government isn’t required to adduce such harm before it issues it fatwas. Instead, it merely hypothesizes “risks” – which are not subject to evidentiary scrutiny, which never have to be proved, and which are almost never dissected by the lazy/owned (take your pick) media. Which instead uses guaranteed-to-rile-the-masses terms such as “spewed pollution” in a news story about FiatChrysler’s purported tailpipe sins.

It all makes sense – but only if you gaze upon it from a different perspective. When you do, it all becomes crystal clear.

Bins, Tiers and all.   

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Author of "Automotive Atrocities" and "Road Hogs" (MBI). Currently living amongst the Edentulites in rural SW Virginia.

24 COMMENTS

  1. Two comments:

    Just came back from Europe, I love photography. What did I snap pixs of? Lambos, GT-3’s and Mclarens? Nope, everything diesel. (I own a B7 Passst SEL TDI) Pixs mostly of diesel wagons/estates/avants.

    I’ve owned volvo and audi wagons. Currently an Outback 2.5. Just kills me that EVERY mfger in Europe a.) makes a wagon, and b.) in diesel. B4 I left I knew about 50% of car sales in Europe were diesel. From what I saw, I’d say nearly 90% now. My dream car is still the B8 Passat Allroad wagon in diesel. Saw plenty of them.

    Comment two:

    This is why I don’t have much convo w the ‘dudes’ in my neighborhood. Boring!

    “Hi Kevin,

    The Sports Cult is something I rant about often. The other day I was working out at the gym and overheard two other guys talking. All they talked about was…. fuuuuhhhhhhttttttttball. These guys looked to be in their 40s or 50s, grown men, intently discussing… something that ought to be of interest only to boys of 12 or 13.

    It is on purpose.

    Can’t have men discussing things like politics or philosophy.”

    Chow

    • Dear LTF,

      “My dream car is still the B8 Passat Allroad wagon in diesel.”

      The new generation of retro, sedan chassis based, low center of gravity, station wagons make so much sense. They can simultaneously fulfill the functions of a sport sedan, a minivan, a crossover, an SUV, and a pickup truck.

      They make far more sense than a crossover or the current crop of crew cabbed short bed pickups.

  2. I’m still waiting for the new EPA head honcho to do something about this.
    BUT
    I’m not holding my breath.
    .
    In the meantime I will continue to drive my big old 4X4 diesel Dodge Ram.

  3. That’s a real shame the Mercedes won’t be selling their Bluetec engine in the US any more. The GLK I test-drove a few years ago had one, and it really was excellent. Like the saying goes – you buy horsepower but drive torque, and it had torque to spare. It let me squirt in and through traffic like I was Mario.

    Chip H.

  4. The EPA is nothing more than a bunch of Social Justice Warriors ensconced in GovCo. They cannot be reasoned with, they will not stop and they will be in your face until they get popped in the chops. Then they’ll go running to Mommy, crying.

    This is just one of the reasons they hate Trump. He’s shown he has the cajones to stand up to them. They need to strike while they still can because they know Judgement Day, for them, is on the horizon. Thus, the rush to whack VW, FCA and scare Mercedes and Mazda enough to pull their planned offerings.

    The sad thing is so many in the Soyuz believe in the EPA’s religious zealotry because they’ve been brainwashed by an “education” system that has fed them the Earth First! swill since kindergarten.

  5. Dear Eric,

    You may have seen this already. If you have, sorry for the redundancy.

    It’s Confirmed: Without Government Subsidies, Tesla Sales Implode
    by Tyler Durden
    Jun 12, 2017 5:05 AM

    As Bloomberg writes, and as Elon Musk knows all too well, the results confirm that “clean-energy vehicles aren’t attractive enough to compete without some form of taxpayer-backed subsidy.”

    Nobody was hurt more than Tesla: the company, whose sales were skyrocketing at the time, lobbied against the move, with CEO Musk warning during a visit to Copenhagen that sales would be hit. It wasn’t clear if the warning was targeting the government, the people of Denmark, or his own bank account and shareholders, but he was absolutely correct: in 2015 Tesla sold a total of 2,738 cars in Denmark. In 2016 the number dropped by 94% to just 176 units.

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-06-11/its-confirmed-without-government-subsidies-tesla-sales-implode

  6. Agenda 21 – pure and simple. it was never about being a benefit, quite to the contrary. Every regulation is about being a hinderance and a handicap. I live in the great utopia of NYC, every traffic measure implemented here since Furor Bloomberg has been about INCREASING travel time. Forcing us terrible peasants out of our death machines, keeping us peons out of their Emerald Cities.

    Once you understand that your overlords work not for you, but work feverishly and at your great expense, against you in every way – you have no choice but to despise Big Brother.

    Has anyone come to the realization that without Ethanol being forced into our gasoline supply, Gasoline engines would gain MPG? Ethanol contains a fraction of the energy of straight gasoline, by weakening the fuel energy content, gasoline engines MPG decline – the MPG farce is crippled by Ethanol alone. Government serves not you, but itself in every way.

  7. Oil companies run the government. Diesels aren’t good for oil companies since they don’t sell you as much oil. And now that summer is here, the retail price of diesel here in Colorado is actually less than regular gasoline by about 5¢ a gallon (in the winter it goes up about 50¢-$1.00/gal more).

    Electrics are just fine with the oil companies because they can sell natural gas to the electrical grid, and they really don’t work as primary transportation anyway. Wind and solar are OK too, since they only work about 30% of the time (the rest of the time your electricity comes from natural gas “peaking” plants that make up the difference). Nuclear should be the preferred power source for electricity (and heavy ships), but 50 years of scaring the shit out of population means no way that’s going to happen.

    Don’t get me wrong, petroleum is great stuff. Don’t want to live without it. But because it is so important the people controlling it have undue influence over politics. And the stuff is so cheap and the margins are so thin that anything they can do to reduce efficiency is going to increase profits. Obama wanted 50 MPG vehicles, and could have had them with diesels. I loved driving on long trips in the A3, stopping for fuel every 500 miles or so is pretty amazing. But millions of cars able to drive cross country on 25 gallons of diesel isn’t going to move the needle on Exxon/Mobile’s stock, let alone keep the Saud family in clover. And buying less oil means we can’t export as many dollars, so that means inflation at home will piss off the voters, and then the guys in Washington are looking for work.

    Now where did I leave my tin foil hat?

    • The government is run by the people who are elected, appointed, and hired to run it. They are influenced, rewarded, and told what to do by the financial interests. Best I can tell the people who own the financial interests also own the big oil companies. As such a lot is done for the benefit of big oil’s bottom line but they don’t run the government.

    • not entirely correct…’Uncle’ hate ALL high mileage cars as that equals less fuel tax revenue. the State dependency on Fuel tax is keeping us from the 80 MPG car or even better:

      the Hydrogen I.C.E / Fuel Cell hybrid car powered by a home hydrogen production system that only requires water.. Clean and Independent of the grid!

      • Uncle is leveraging a fiction of reduced fuel tax revenue due to high mpg vehicles to roll out the very expensive to collect but very good for monitoring and control tax by mile.

  8. And it will continue until sheeple stop yelling “Land of the Free” at government sports stadia and question why US Navy ships are in Japan in the first place.

    • Gov’t sports stadia. I like that. It’s true. The State makes “investments” in arenas (w/ our tax dollars) for the dumbest-asses in our society to go and cheer for boys and balls, ignorant of the fleecing that is going on. We are literally paying for our own enslavement, distractions, and mind warping. USA! USA! USA!

      • Hi Kevin,

        The Sports Cult is something I rant about often. The other day I was working out at the gym and overheard two other guys talking. All they talked about was…. fuuuuhhhhhhttttttttball. These guys looked to be in their 40s or 50s, grown men, intently discussing… something that ought to be of interest only to boys of 12 or 13.

        It is on purpose.

        Can’t have men discussing things like politics or philosophy.

        • Dear Eric,

          The public edumacation system, with its stereotypical jocks and cheerleaders pecking order, sets the tone for later life in ‘Murca.

          Pat Tillman was indoctrinated by the system, then taken out by the same system when he realized it was all a scam and started making waves, and shattering the collective illusion.

          I’ve never understood the whole “football hero” value system. You catch a ball, run with it until you cross a line on the ground, and that is “important” how?

          I know. I know. “It was the winning touchdown!” But what really happened? Some guy moved a ball around on a grass field. How is that of any enduring real world significance?

          Yet these guys get their names and “achievements”, such as they are, memorialized in this or that “Hall of Fame”. Fans then memorize these sports statistics and recite them back to each other. High fives all around. WTF?.

          Tillman finished his career with totals of 238 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 3 interceptions for 37 yards, 3 forced fumbles, 12 pass deflections, and 3 fumble recoveries in 60 career games. In addition he also had 1 rush attempt for 4 yards and returned 3 kickoffs for 33 yards.

          All this is supposed to be awe-inspiring. But why? I can honestly say that I just don’t get it.

          To me Tillman’s greatest achievement was catching on to the scam, and having the courage to declare that the emperor has no clothes.

      • I’ve always wondered how the professional sports bidness would fare if they were no longer granted FREE 15 minute infomercials on EVERY local newscast every night. These free infomercials are know as “sports news”.

        • Hi Fack,

          It’s always struck me as odd that it is considered “manly” to follow sports. To sit on a chair or sofa and watch other men play a game. To spend time keeping track of the “stats” of other men, of professional entertainers… as opposed to doing something oneself, taking pride in a skill or accomplishment of one’s own.

          Men should do such things; and be interested in ideas.

          I say all the foregoing as a guy who is 6ft 3 and about 200 pounds and who has been working out/exercising all my life. I run and lift weights. I just don’t give a damn about how fast another guy can run – or how much weight he can lift – or whether he can throw a ball to another guy really accurately. I stopped playing games when I was a teenager – and stopped caring about who wins a game before I was out of my teens! 🙂

          • eric, you just don’t understand being part of the club. Before you even get to my age and you’ve been a part of it, you’ll be most likely wondering how you’re going to change careers or get that surgery or one of many things that happen when age and old injuries catch up to you.

            I hear it all the time and don’t have much sympathy for those who destroyed their bodies with childish games.

            Yep, I gotta have shoulder/knee/hip, etc. surgery cause of that hit I took playing(they don’t even mention the sport, just assume everybody knows it)Bumfuck my sophomore/junior/senior year(high school, since almost nobody makes the cut to college…..and very few in college make the cut to making a living with a ball of any sort other than the ones they had hanging).

            Yes sir, nothing like spending the rest of your life crippled in some way. I’m proof you don’t need a sport to need surgery(back, congenital, shoulder, being the human crane too many years, almost back again but a good doctor told me I’d probably worse off….thanks for that since too many doctors have a production line for surgeries like that).

            So many didn’t get hurt bad enough in school so they play intramural football in college and finish it off.

            I’m lucky my bad back surfaced before I played much football. I never liked it anyway and played because I “should”, you know…..Why ain’t you playin ball?

          • I don’t know Eric: Although I am not a rapid sports fan like you rant about (& I fully understand your rant, BTW) but I thoroughly enjoy watching the athleticism on display by professional athletes. This is especially true for sports that I have played (soccer) or currently play (golf). And the business/talent management (i.e. front office) operations of pro football teams is fascinating. Did you ever see the movie, “Moneyball”? That is what I am talking about.
            I understand though: My golfing bud keeps referring to the Patriots in the first-person plural. I finally had enough and blurted, “What the hell did *YOU* do?” He finally stopped. Whew.

            • Oh the 1st person! So lovely when used in reference to sports team (“We are going to win the blah-blah this year bro!”) or the government (“We must stand up for the disenfranchised among us!”). Public skooling does such an excellent job of producing sheeple with an unbreakable herd mentality.

          • It’s of a piece with being a consumer and not a “doer” culture. After a long day in a cube farm or assembly line or warehouse, most people just want to relax and live vicariously through the escapades of others.
            Many do take pride in their homes and work on projects over their weekend, but their numbers are dwindling.

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