Lonely Man of Cake

April 20, 2007

Animal Fat Diesel?

Filed under: America,Automotive,Biofuel,Diesel,Transportation — lonelymanofcake @ 7:41 am

Read the about the announcement by ConocoPhillips and Tyson here.

Why does this irk the Ethanol Lobby?  Read here.


March 20, 2007

Alternative Fuel News

Filed under: Automotive,Biofuel,Conservation,Diesel,Environment,Technology,Transportation — lonelymanofcake @ 12:55 pm
  • The fuel economy of diesel, which I’ve blogged about a number of times, enabled the 650 horsepower (!) V12 Audi R10 TDI to cruise to victory at the 12 hour LeMans, despite being forced by race officials to install a smaller fuel tank in order to keep the race competitive for “regular” gasoline cars. Catch the full story here. I’ve seen reports that Audi plans to equip a high-end version of it’s hulking Q7 luxury SUV (=Volkswagen Touareg/Porsche Cayenne) with the V12 found on the R10. If you want to get an idea of what V12 power means on an SUV, check out this video of what even a V10 can do. You won’t believe your eyes.

March 14, 2007

Hybrid Taxis in Israel?

Filed under: Conservation,Diesel,Environment,Israel,Transportation — lonelymanofcake @ 10:31 am

“In an interview with Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport, DaimlerChrysler Chairman Dieter Zetsche indicated the company’s current philosophy of favoring the diesel engine over hybrid-drive technology has been overturned, citing pressure from customers.

‘We won’t develop any future models without a hybrid option,’ Zetsche said…” (Source)

It seems that before emulating the Toyota model of hybrid-synergy, in which the electric motor can run on its own for a short while, Mercedes will initially use the “mild hybrid” model currently favored by luxury car makers in which the electric motor is used to give an added, clean boost to the gasoline engine. Expected market date: 2009.

I think it would be interesting to see a BlueTec clean diesel Mercedes paired with an electric motor. Coming to a taxi near you?

UPDATE: Then I wondered: If taxis in Israel are bought tax-free, and Israel offers a tremendous tax incentive for purchasing the Prius, is it possible that a hybrid taxi would qualify for a tax credit, much like the incentives prevalent in the States?

March 7, 2007

Crazy Taxes

I enjoy sharing with folks some of the more creative ways various legislative bodies have cultivated in order to take our money. The illegal drug tax was probably the most creative/ironic/offensive one. That petrol in Israel is charged a 100% excise tax also gets points for creativity.

Here is the story of a 79 year old fellow, David Wetzel, who is a biodiesel pioneer and activist. His converted 1985 Volkswagen Golf has consumed, according to Wetzel’s records, 1134 gallons of waste vegetable oil. A short while ago, Wetzel was visited by two agents from the Illinois Department of Revenue, who demanded that Wetzel pay retroactive “gas” taxes (about 20 cents per-gallon) on his bio-diesel, and file for “special fuel supplier” and “receiver” status from the state.

While the sum of the taxes is somewhat negligible, and Wetzel complied with that request, the principle behind Illinois’ harassment of Wetzel is downright offensive. Never mind that restaurant owners paid tax on the vegetable oil when they bought it for its intended use. (Can taxes even be levied on used goods?) Wetzel’s car was able to achieve 45 MPG utilizing a domestically produced fuel which is estimated to produce 60% less emissions than regular petrol.

Could it be that the US government fears fuel efficient vehicles because it means less revenue from gas sales? If so, then Wetzel wants equal treatment for hybrid cars: the miles traveled on the electric part of the motor should be assessed and taxed as well!

February 26, 2007

Some Automotive News

Filed under: Automotive,Conservation,Diesel,General,Israel,Transportation — lonelymanofcake @ 8:13 pm

In honor Al Gore’s Oscar-winning film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” I decided to dedicate a post to some recent news in environmental consciousness, specifically in the automotive sphere:

Israel has officially approved a set of standards for vehicles powered with natural gas. There are currently 6000 cars in Israel which run on natural gas; the necessary modifications cost 8000 NIS; estimated fuel savings of 50%.

Whereas celebrities once (and too many still) traveled in monstrous blacked out SUVs and limos, many have now turned to more green options. A growing number of A-listers now travel around in eco-friendly vehicles, even if it meant arriving at the red carpet in less ostentatious fashion thanks to the efforts of Global Green USA.

The above story led me to the Tesla Roadster, probably the most impressive eco-car ever built, both in terms of fuel consumption and performance. The Tesla is a plug-in fully electric car; it takes no fuel, has no gears, and has no tailpipe because it is zero-emission. It gets the equivalent of 125 MPG, and does 0-60 in 4 seconds! Is this the future of automotive technology?  I hope.

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.

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