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Survey: Majority of Californians Concerned about Energy Security and Climate Change; Diesel Seen as Part of the Solution

A significant majority of Californians are concerned about climate change and the state’s reliance on imported energy, and they view clean diesel technology as a positive solution to both problems, according to the results of a recent public opinion poll sponsored by the Diesel Technology Forum (DTF).

Some 79% of California voters are "very concerned" or "somewhat concerned" that California continues to import an increasing percentage of its energy, while 63% are very or somewhat concerned about climate change. When asked, "Do you think your personal vehicle has any impact on the earth's climate," 60% of respondents said yes, 33 percent of survey respondents said no, and 7% didn’t know or declined to answer.

The survey asked respondents to choose what type of vehicle they would purchase to show their concern for the environment. Some 60% of Californians said they would choose a hybrid-electric vehicle over a clean diesel vehicle (29%)—"both of which had the same fuel economy and emissions output."

However, those percentages changed when respondents were asked if they knew the clean diesel option was "up to $2,000 less expensive than the hybrid electric option, and both options had comparable emissions and fuel economy." In that case, 54% said they would choose a clean diesel vehicle over a hybrid electric vehicle (38%).

Californians recognize the key role diesel technology plays in the state's goods movement and farm and construction industries, but they surprised us somewhat in their recognition of diesel passenger cars.

What we wanted to know is: If a clean diesel is cost-competitive or superior to a hybrid vehicle, would consumers be likely to choose a clean diesel? How much does the price of the technology affect the market competition between both platforms?

Now we know that consumers are likely to choose a clean diesel vehicle over a hybrid electric once they compare fuel economy, emissions and price. This suggests to us that consumers recognize other fuel efficient technologies and are receptive to them.

—Allen Schaeffer, DTF Executive Director

Other findings of the survey include:

  • Some 65% of Californians believe the state’s air quality has improved or remained the same during the past 20 years, while only 9% believe it has gotten worse.

  • Asked if government policies to reduce energy consumption and air pollution should favor certain technologies, or let technology improvements meet specific standards, 64% favored results-driven public policy while 27% favored government picking favored technologies.

  • On a related question, 69% of respondents said government should not choose between compressed natural gas or clean diesel powered large vehicles if both technologies comparably reduced fuel consumption and emissions.

  • Asked "which do you think is the most likely way that climate change will be addressed," 28% said "new technologies driven by consumer demand," 20% said "new laws and regulations," 12% said "individual action," and 32% said "a combination of each."

  • When people think of "diesel," 61% think of heavy-duty trucks, 16% think of passenger vehicles, and 8% think of off-road equipment like tractors.

The public opinion survey was conducted April 12-14 by David Binder Research of San Francisco. The survey had a sample size of 500 California voters and a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percent.

The Diesel Technology Forum (DTF) is a non-profit public education and outreach organization made up of diesel vehicle and engine makers, components manufacturers and fuel providers.



Looks like the drive to sell diesel to American by the auto and oil companies is working. But Hey! please wake up! Don't buy the PR. Diesel is a fossil fuel and it pollutes at the tailpipe when used in ICEs just like gasoline. Its main advantages are it contains more potential energy than gasoline, doesnt require a CAT, not yet anyway, in the exhaust stream so the engine can be run at a leaner fuel to air ratio than 13:1, where the CAT works; and it has a lubricating quality while gasoline is an oil solvent. The facts are it doesnt help solve our dependency on foreign oil. Not a good long term plan to just swap gasoline ICEs with diesel ICEs in our autos. We need to think further down the line than this and start working on getting the long term solutions into production. I'm going to keep driving the old Volvo and using mass transit when possible until the auto companies get it right and the oil companies quit controlling the energy industry. That means I'm looking for a BEV solution and I for one am will to wait because I don't believe that "what's good for General Motoers is good for America." The first large auto company with courage enought to go up against Big Oil will be the race winner in my opinion. It's time for a revolution in the auto business not this continuing slow moving evolutionary crap.


Either that or some people are wondering why someone did a survey asking people if they wanted to have Vin Disels car.....


Yeah well, another totally unbiased survey from the Diesel industry. Along with comparing to "hybrids", how about something more comparable to the Clean Diesel that I can't yet stroll into any number of dealerships and buy off the lot? How about a comparison of total cost of ownership against a PHEV? Clean Diesel might as well be a Flux Capacitor, at this point.

Some Jerk

Um, diesel engines can run biodiesel, gasoline engines can't. Biodiesel is much easier and less energy intensive to make than ethanol, and has any number of domestic feedstocks, from used cooking oil to sewage treatment plan algae.

As to where to find a clean diesel, go to a Mercedes dealer and ask to look at the Bluetec E-Class. Kickass. If you can't afford it, a last-generation VW diesel is as clean as the old Volvos all you aging boomers are still driving. Especially on B100.

Or wait for the Accord diesel, the new Jetta and Rabbit diesels, etc. Face it, haters, diesel is a big part of the future. Let's focus on getting biodiesel widely distributed instead of railing against the man.


There will never be enough biodiesel for regular cars as well as trucks and buses. Maybe some kind of plugin diesel hybrid might stretch the supply. I believe the Germans can make FT diesel for around $US3 per gallon before taxes. If there are no technology breakthroughs maybe the future is a PHEV with a small high compression engine running on a fuel blend variously made from veg oil, chicken fat, sawdust or switchgrass depending whether bio, FT or hydrogenated. That fuel might be $5-10/gal so you hope the battery charge works out cheaper per mile.


In Germany the average CO2 output of new Diesel cars is now higher than those of patrol cars:

(Just look at the graphic)

I guess the same will happen in the States.

Bio-fuels are bio as Diesel-oel. Only the emmissions are worse.


Hey,let's forget the diesel Cars for a Moment and lets focus on the Major Polluters,Trains,Trucks,Ships,commercial Air Traffic,you add all that up and the diesel Car Impact will be miniscule.
Let's clean them up before we talk about Lawnmowers etc.


Whoever said we must replace all our diesel fuel supply with biodiesel to reduce petroleum consumption, has lost his or her mind.

Diesels have a double fuel advantage. Number one, they use an average of 25% less petroleum to operate using traditional, fossil fuel feedstocks.

Secondly, the alternative fuel diesels use is much more energy dense (89% of the level of ULSD fuel with the higher viscosity making it more like 94% as energy efficent [source: Cummins]).

According to Marge Oge, EPA, a one-third light-duty fleet of clean diesels could save us 1.4 million barrels of oil per day, which equals our current dependence of oil from Saudi Arabia. If we add just 5% biodiesel to that mix, then we get to not import oil from the number two importee from the Middle East (Iraq).

Additionally, considering the mass production levels of clean diesels already, globally, in all classes of vehicles, I don't see how anyone could objectively look at the prospect for petroleum consumption savings and not look to clean diesel technologies.


there is no such thing as a "clean diesel" come and spend some
time in any major city in western europe before you make you
mind up, diesel is a killer !



Most of those diesels are older vehicles with much looser emission restrictions. If you look at the Tier 5 bin 5 / LEV II restrictions in the United States, which mandate emissions as clean as gasoline cars, they do qualify as clean. The US and California have the strictest anti-smog emissions regulations in the world. Frankly, I think they need to be loosened a bit so we can get 50mpg biodiesel-running cars here in California.


Survey of 500 people in a state with a population of 32,000,000 ? .

Not too hard to skew the data simply by who and where the 500 were .

Stan Peterson


I was truly shocked when I visited several EU cities after a hiatus of some years. Just as you can instantly smell the pollution of the sparse but totally pollution uncontrolled autos in some third world cesspool; you can now instantly detect the diesel stink in many EU cities.

Ten years ago, such was NOT the case, by any means. EU quality of life has markedly declined, IMO.

EU's phony clean diesels, are really pretty dirty and aren't slated to get clean until the 2015 model year some half decade after America will start letting legitimately clean diesel back into the auto mix. I don't understand why the EU is so tardy on its E5 and E6 standards.

But that is what you get when watermelon politicians and not scientists, engineers and manufacturers make the auto emission rules. Not as bad as occurred in the East Bloc cesspools, but the principles are the same.

Diesel was mandated by the stupid fuel taxes of Europe, that take all the benefit of building better vehicles and award those gains to the non-participant politicians instead of the "builder" or buyer of the proverbial "better mouse trap".

There is no or little economic incentive to build the better mouse trap, so Europeans are stuck with cramped pregnant roller skates, that emit stink when they are driven. The same vehicles that are now some of the poorly constructed autos in the world, on a measured quality basis. High taxes and limited investment begets the consequences.


its not just old diesels that are the problem I run a BMW 2 litre
diesel , there is no visable smoke from the tailpipe , even under
hard acceleration, but boy does it stink when you run it for a short
time in a confined place . I am afraid we are choking to death over
here , the number of cases of childhood asthma are going through
the roof , and it all started about ten years ago when the diesel
culture took off , I suspect 70% of new cars are diesel here in
northern italy .

Greg Faulkner

If there is no such thing as clean diesel, then there is no such thing as a clean gas car or a clean hybrid, since all use internal-combustion engines. The last time I checked, all ICEs emit harmful substances. If we're discussing ICE versus solar, then you may have a point, but the discussion is over diesel versus gas power, or diesels versus gas-electric hybrids.

Clean is a relative term, and when one considers that the total emissions output of the latest diesels are less than that of the latest, naturally-aspired, gas-powered cars, then we come up with the word "clean".

One should not preclude a technology based on past information. Europe is polluted due to lax pollution laws thoughout the last two-hundred years and has nothing to do with the latest diesel machines that average less CO2 output, CO output, and total hydrocarbon output than comparable, gas cars; and this is without adding the benefit of all diesels being alternative-fuel capable right out of the box.

The diesels being permitted in the U.S. will meet new emission rules that not only require diesels to be 90% cleaner, but gas cars to be much cleaner as well. This means that diesels had to come twice as far; twice as fast; and have succeeded.

The lessor tax theory is ludicrous and crumbles when one sees that, in the U.K., where fuel tax has parody, diesels still make up over 40% of new car registrations.


You have presented some good points when you talk Bio; however, the future car is never the less a BEV for all the right arguments:

The main one draws from the idea that all ICEs are powered by internal controlled explosions using an active engineering model of converting energy from a chemical form to a mechanical form. And, in an effort to control the pollution of these explosions, over time we have built a complicated passive engineering model of expensive solutions that include catalyse converters, particulate filters, special sensors and God know what else. As the name passive implies, none of the devices actually improve the engines efficiency and in many cases make the engine less efficient.

The ICEs have been and still are a mechanical engineer's gravy train; every year new devices are invented to help increase the efficiency of the active model and to help suppress their pollutants. Look how complicated these engines have become: there are expensive proposals to install rotary valves, poppet valves controlled by microcomputers firing solenoids, hydraulic actuated valves, multiple pistons revolving around strange gearing arrangements--the list goes on and on. The facts remain that producing a clean ICE is still expensive, and always results in a pollution machine.

Least you think that burning bio fuels is the answer to the pollution problems, let me point to articles recently provided by Green Congress that indicate that these fuels produce pollutions that are of a different nature but are also detrimental to health when produced in large numbers. Additional research on these points is just beginning. point! All these solutions appear to be moving toward the same old problems of pollution; but of a different nature. They are at best interim solutions to BEVs.

HEVs appear to be even a rather sophisticated solution; but, as of yet, it seems to take more energy to produce the fuel and a very complicated device to extract the electricity; much more expensive than BEVs.

Yes! there are problems also in producing energy for BEVs; least of which is the electrical generation problems: The electrical power is produced by remotely located large power stations from various forms of fuel, that include atomic, solar cells, solar heated water, falling water, natural gas, oil, methane, coal...etc. But, the pollution is more easily cleaned and contained because it is all generated at one location rather that at many millions of continually moving locations.

The ICE car, in any form is and always will be an inefficient and dirty way to transport people from place to place.

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