Lonely Man of Cake

February 18, 2007

Green Cars? Not in the USA

Filed under: America,Automotive,Conservation,Diesel,General,Israel,Politics — lonelymanofcake @ 11:49 am

A recent study reveals that of over 100 cars manufactured in the world which acheive 40 miles-per-gallon or better, only two (!) are available in America: the Toyota Prius and Honda Civic Hybrid.

The full list of cars reveals the disturbing fact that “nearly two thirds of the 113 highly fuel-efficient car models that are unavailable to American consumers are either made by U.S. auto manufacturers (e.g., Ford and
GM) or foreign manufacturers with substantial U.S. sales operations (e.g., Volkswagen, Nissan and Toyota). The full list of cars can be found here.

What you’ll probably notice is that the vast majority of the cars in the list are diesel-fueled, and acheive equal, if not better results, than the much touted hybrids. Why are these fuel efficient and environmentally friendly cars not available in the USA? Because the US has been slow in adopting the ULSD (Ultra-Low-Sulfur-Diesel) standard which has been prevalent for some time in the EU, and which, liter for liter, is less of a pollutant than regular gasoline. No wonder sales of diesel automobiles are booming in Europe. It is estimated that 60% of cars in France run on diesel.

How does Israel fit into the picture? We’ve spoken about the excise tax of 2.20 NIS per-liter (בלו) leveled on regular petrol. As an incentive to encourage use of diesel, the government cuts the excise tax on diesel such that it always remains cheaper than petrol. Ever wonder why Israeli taxis are Mercedes and VW? It’s not reparations from the Germans. (Any cab driver will laugh when confronted with this question, frequently propounded by US tourists.) It’s because the German auto-makers, for many years, were the only manufacturers to install diesel engines in passenger cars, which because of their fuel efficiency, make the most sense for a taxi. Now that more auto-makers have entered the diesel market (just browse through the list), there is a little more diversity in the Israeli cab scene with Skoda, SEAT, and even the occasional Volvo S40 diesel.  Here is a great chart which lists which brands of cars are driven by Israeli cab drivers.

Hybrid cars are a tremendous step in the right direction for both minimizing damage to the environment and reducing oil dependency. Until hybrids dominate the market, though, using clean diesel is the next best thing.



  1. There are so few diesel cars in America because finding a gas station with a diesel pump is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Who wants to drive a car that you can only only fill up at every hundredth gas station? And since there’s no demand, there’s no supply. Basic economics!

    Comment by Joost — February 19, 2007 @ 2:18 am | Reply

  2. Joost,

    You seem to have overlooked the principle of “cause and effect.” The reason there are so few gas stations with diesel is precisely a function of the lack of market saturation with diesel vehicles. It isn’t economically sensible for most gas stations in the US to “waste” a pump on diesel.

    But that isn’t the reason why there are so few diesel cars.

    Were America to adopt the same clean ULSD diesel standards as in the rest of the civilized world, the market would probably see a big demand for diesel. And the pump stations would, no doubt, adapt accordingly.

    Comment by lonelymanofcake — February 19, 2007 @ 10:49 am | Reply

  3. […] 1953 and 1965 had to be spent on German goods.   Thus the rumor which I had debunked regarding why many Israeli taxis are of German manufacture may be founded on the memories of older […]

    Pingback by Israel-German Relations in the Wake of the Holocaust « Lonely Man of Cake — March 29, 2007 @ 5:12 pm | Reply

  4. I gotta’ tell you guys…the reason we don’t have these options in the US is that our population DOES NOT KNOW that we do not have these options available. Go to the US yahoo/ yahoo.com…I tried to find information on the cars that are unavailable in the United States on our yahoo, our google, with absolutely no luck at all. So, I switched over to the UK yahoo, as I like to do because our government likes to censor what we read about, and what do you know, first try, same subject. I know I will be contacting my senators, house reps, and President Obama as well about this subject. It’s really shameful that we don’t have these options available to us. And, by the way, diesel is not so hard to come by. We have a ranch and have always had diesel pick-up trucks on our farm. Some stations do only have gasoline (petrol) but mostly all have diesel available, I know this to be a fact. We just are not offered “economy” diesel options. It’s all about the money in this situation. And the ignorance of our population…it’s not our fault. Our media does not tell people the whole story, ever. People would LOVE these options, but our government just doesn’t allow it. Maybe our ex-president’s stake in big oil had something to do with it. ???? We’ll see what happens, but President Obama is fighting so many big money corporations here it’s going to be a long, hard road to get past all of the greedy & powerful people in this country.
    Just wanted to let you Brits know that we just are unaware that these options exist for us & that diesel is readily available, everywhere.

    Comment by Dena Dobbs — September 28, 2009 @ 5:19 am | Reply

  5. Where can I find any data about how many gas station with diesel fuel are in US?

    Comment by Andrea Battista — October 22, 2009 @ 2:20 pm | Reply

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