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Mercedes-Benz Launches Diesel Marathon from Paris to Beijing

Parisbeijing
Heading out to Beijing.

In an event designed to demonstrate the global potential of its diesel platforms, Mercedes-Benz is sending thirty-six Mercedes-Benz E-Class diesels—thirty-three E 320 CDIs and three E 320 BLUETECs—on a long-distance journey of more than 13,600 kilometers (8,452 miles) to Beijing, where the fleet is scheduled to arrive on 17 November. The driving challenge is not speed, but low fuel consumption.

The route of the “E-Class Experience” passes through France, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Russia and Kazakhstan to China. The itinerary largely follows that of the first transcontinental car race in history, which was run between Beijing and Paris 99 years ago.

Parisbeimap
Map of the route. Click to enlarge.

On that occasion, the aim of the French initiators was to demonstrate the technical superiority of the car over the horse. The winner was the Italian aristocrat, Scipione Borghese, who crossed the finishing line after 62 days, with his competitors arriving in Paris three weeks later.

The long-distance route from Paris to Beijing is not about speed. Rather, the sporting challenge for the participants is to achieve the lowest possible consumption on the individual stages and across the overall distance.

70 years after Mercedes-Benz launched the diesel engine in series car production as the first manufacturer, we want to demonstrate again the high level of performance of the modern diesel engine in terms of emission, economy and range, even under the most extreme conditions.

—Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the DaimlerChrysler Board of Management

Comments

Robert Schwartz

The Peking to Paris motor race was a race held in 1907 for automobiles between Peking (now Beijing), China and Paris, France, a distance of nearly 12,000 miles.

mahonj

It is a pity they don't use some of the smaller engined E classes - like the E220CDi and the E280 CDI. Then you might see some fuel economy.

Rafael Seidl

Of course Andre Citroen did it the way these crazy stunts are supposed to be done: he had his designers produce half-track vehicles just for the occasion and nearly bankrupted his company in the process. That was in the late 20s/early 30s though.

(Text is in German but the pics are still interesting)

http://hometown.aol.de/tmirabeau/Cr_Jaune.html

Hybrid+E85

Why are diesels currently less than 1% of the vehicles sold in the US and about 40% of the vehicles sold in the EU?

Diesel engines and biodiesel fuel are not magic bullets but they are more efficient, less carbon producing, they work and they are available now.

Before you buy your next car consider test driving a diesel.

Andrey

Hybrid:
European governments played public sentiments against the idea of personal transportation, deemed to be “luxury item”, to make cars their favorite milking cow. Hence terrible overtaxation of both vehicles and especially transportational fuels. Distortion of market lead to understandable consumer reaction, which is preference of more fuel efficient, but by far more polluting (I mean really harmful to human health emissions) diesel engines, which in fact are more expensive to operate by $perMile basis then virtually clean modern gasoline vehicles. To justify this trend (and bear another benefits), costing Europeans direly in premature death rate from diesel engines emissions, concept of Climate Change was invented. Now, US/Canada market due to inherent adherence to personal freedom idea never been manipulated in such shameless way, which translated to only marginal penetration of diesel engine in cars market (heavy duty commercial vehicles are diesel dominated here too).

As of year 2007, whole US imposed same emission (once again, real emissions, not CO2) regulation to all passenger vehicles regardless of type of fuel and engine, and as of today no diesel-powered car is certified to be sold in 2007 in US.

Golfdriver

I diesels are bad for peoples health then why is lungcancer not a big problem in europa.
I believe than in France more than 70% of the cars are diesels.
So if a city like Paris were compared with a city like Los Angeles it should be easy to see a big difference in cases of lungcancer.
Unless there are other factors not accounted for.
I remember an article about gasoline engines producing particles as well, but they are very small and therefore difficult to measure which also makes them more dangerous, since our lungs are not made for handling such small particles, unlike those from diesels that are more like dustparticles, and our lungs can handle dustparticles, otherwise we would`nt have survived so far.
An university should do some research in to this.
Perhaps americas wiev on diesels have more to do with the big oilcompanies influence on politics, than on pollution.

Bill Young

One of the main reasons that the US has few diesels can be laid at the feet of GM. In the early 80's GM tried to do automotive diesels on the cheap. They used gasoline engine blocks for diesels and they did not hold up to the higher compression.

They generally smoked badly within 20,000 miles and the engines were completely shot by 50,000. A generation of automotive buyers were completely turned off to diesel by the experience of either buying or driving behind one of these beasts.

Rafael Seidl

Andrey -

diesels were in fact not at all popular options ofr passenger cars in Europe back in the 80s. That changed in the run-up to the contient-wide introduction of three-way catalysts and the unleaded fuel they require, which happened as recently as 1992. During the transition, those who needed to travel across national borders increasingly opted for diesels just to avoid getting stranded.

All of the European carmakers quickly jumped on this bandwagon mostly because the competition from Japan (and to a less relevant degree, the US) had zero expertise in building LDV diesels. By raising the share of diesel engine, they effectively cornered a big portion of the LDV market. Hence their investments in turbochargers, direct injection, external cooled EGR and more recently, particulate filters. The complexity and cost of a modern diesel engine is very high, but so far it's still worth it to Europe's carmakers.

EU governments assisted this market shift by maintaining differential rates on gasoline and diesel, which had historically been favored as a sop to farmers and hauliers. Last week, supply and demand caused diesel to become (slightly) more expensive than Euro 95 gasoline in Austria for the first time - considering diesel contains 12% more energy per liter, that means it is still comparatively cheap.

For a European consumer, a mid-sized diesel vehicle remains cheaper to operate than its gasoline cousin, provided you drive at least 15,000km a year. For larger sedans, SUVs etc. the calculation becomes a no-brainer. In the US, where diesel and gasoline are priced more or less acording to energy content, the break-even line shifts towards higher annual mileage and larger vehicles.

Wrt emissions, Europe has seen a rapid tightening from Euro 1 in 1992 to Euro 4 in 2005, with Euro 5 due in the 2009 timeframe. Each step roughly halved the permitted emissions levels, though crucially, never beyond carmakers' ability to comply. Indeed, the introduction of durable wall-flow DPFs represents a quantum leap that far exceeds Euro 4 requirements. Consumers are mostly insisting on them anyhow, partly to avoid those embarrassing black puffs of smoke and partly to shore up future resale values. Similar advances have been made on the NOx front, for the US market. Note that US carmakers have long used their influence in Washington to ensure emissions regulations effectively excluded European diesels from their home turf. Protectionist politics almost always cut both ways, to the detriment of consumers.

Given recent technological breakthroughs, EU regulators are now keen to accelerate the rate of emissions tightening, with the carmakers predictably pushing back on cost. The average age of a European LDV is already almost 9 years; raising the initial cost, they say, would discourage even more consumers from purchasing a new vehicle, threatening not only jobs but also limiting progress on average emissions from the actual fleet.

Motorist

I agree with Golfdriver that actually gasoline engines also producing PM but much smaller than PM from Diesel engines.

Any negative campaign for more efficient and clean engines (Modern Diesels are comply with very strict Tier 2 Bin 5) are possibly from their counterparts (gasoline engine maker, who has been invested a lot of money in their gasoline engine plant) and probably Oil companies who afraid of declining in fuel volume sales.

Every kind of engine has it's own drawback, no one is perfect, but we have to remember that alternative fuel for Diesel is more various, also easier & cheaper to produce (BioDiesel, FT GTL / CTL, NextBTL, etc.) than alternative fuel for gasoline (BioEthanol which has heating value 25% less than Petro gasoline, BioButanol is probably OK).

If we still depend on crude oil, we have to remember how many wars in the world since 1900 until now are related with Oil ?

So welcome to Modern Diesel, Hybrid "Plug -In" Diesel cars (which could using BioDiesel & FT Syn fuel) and roadmap for the future is Fuel Cell cars + Hydrogen reformer device.

J.

In my opinion , the most fuel efficient and environmental friendly thing a carmaker could do is abstain from such useless , energy consuming and wasting PR stunts altogether. We know that diesel engines can drive far and reliable; there is absolutely no rational reason other than economics to put up such a wasteful event like this.

We never learn...

mahonj

What would be interesting would be to have a competition where all manner of production cars were invitied to drive from Paris to Beijing (petrol, diesel, hybrid, CNG - anything) and see who gets there on the least fuel in a reasonable time.
You might only count the first 60% of the entrants to prevent people driving too slowly.
You could have classes for diesel, petrol, and load carrying capacity (4 adult, 5 adult, 7 adult) for instance - or classes by cost.
All cars would have to be genuine production cars.
You could have an overall first for economy, speed and style (!)
There is a plymouth- Dakkar race held where no car can cost more than sterling 100. (People cheat madly).

Rafael Seidl

If only Dr. Z spent as much time on fixing Chrysler's totally broken management as he does on whimsical diversions...

Fwiw, I suspect this particular stunt may be aimed more at the status-crazy nouveau riche class of Chinese businessmen than at anyone in the US or Europe. The participation of the three Bluetec vehicles is noteworthy because diesel fuel in much of Asia is still laden with sulphur. MB's SCR version of this clean diesel notion should be able to handle 50ppm, while the NOx store variant really does need <15ppm.

http://www.unep.org/pcfv/Documents/Asia-PacificSulphurMatrixJul05-2.pdf

Andrey

Rafael:
I agree that diesel engines for LDV in Europe are no brainer. In US/Canada LDV diesel always has bad perception, mostly because old diesels were noisy, weak, and stinky. One could only admire exceptional progress made in Europe on LDV diesel engines. However, European companies were overcautious to introduce their diesel cars in US – mostly because mentioned bad perception, but less favorable economics of diesel cars on US market definitely played a role too. However, up to last year diesel cars were sold in US and are sold in Canada recently. EPA diesel emission standards were introduced later then in Europe and were roughly comparable with European ones. No prohibitive restrictions in US were in place up to 2006. According to law, every piece of legislation in US should be published on Internet, and I would appreciate if you back your statement by links to such regulation.

Whatever concerns to car lobby influence in Washington and elsewhere, it is thing of the past. EPA and CARB (not CAFÉ-makers!) routinely overpower car manufacturers lobby and impose emission regulation often beyond current technological abilities of carmakers, especially domestic. That was the case with 3-way cats, OBD, ZEV mandate, etc. Current strict regulation on diesel LDV engines was introduced by CARB – same CARB which rage battles with carmakers over ZEV mandate and even risked to introduce arguably illegal plans to curb vehicular CO2 emission. Overstrict CARB regulation on passenger diesels was adopted by another 10 states, before being adapted by EPA. Both EPA and CARB are heavily encouraging spread of hybrid vehicles, which already are more fuel efficient than diesels and hold promise to increase their efficiency to unheard levels with introduction of PHEV. US manufacturers are vastly behind in HEV technology, so your assumption looks highly doubtful. Unless you are proficient in political circles of Washington, Sacramento, and another 9 states, and have some reliable insider information.

Rafael Seidl

Andrey -

while it is true that 45 out of 50 states did have emissions regs (just) lenient enough to allow the best available diesels to be sold, it's also true that no diesel LDV has made the cut in CA since the mid-1980s. Since CA, NY, MA, VT & ME make up about 1/3 of the total US market, this made selling diesels much less attractive. Add to that the widespread perception in the US and Japan that diesel is too dirty and the limited availability of clean, well-lit diesel fuel outlets and it's not hard to see why the effort has been muted.

As of MY 2009, each manufacturer selling in the US must prove that fleet average emissions of new cars meet Tier 2 Bin 5 / LEV 2. Until very recently, diesels could not do better than Tier 2 Bin 9, which will be deleted at the end of MY 2006.

Wrt US carmakers influencing legislation, pls don't interpret that as saying they get their way each and every time. Often, the regulators do indeed push harder and further than the auto industry would like them to. However, the E85 loophole in CAFE is one example where carmakers, farmers and Midwestern politicians clearly had a meeting of minds. Let's just leave it at that to avoid going off on a wild tangent.

anon

Andrey, I have to take serious issue with your statement:

"Both EPA and CARB are heavily encouraging spread of hybrid vehicles, which already are more fuel efficient than diesels and hold promise to increase their efficiency to unheard levels with introduction of PHEV"

Uh, as far as I can see from real world driving tests, the VW Golfs and Jetta with a TDI and a 5 speed still beat the Prius nicely. Not to mention they are much more substantial cars all around than the Prius. Also, your PHEV statement is odd since a diesel powered PHEV would get better mileage than a gasoline powered PHEV. Especially where the diesel engine is a small, low RPM generator.

As far as political concerns go, figure this: biofuels are here to stay. What biofuel is easier to make, has higher "energy out", can be made by the most varied of feed stocks, and powers the inarguably more efficient engine design? Biodiesel. This alone makes it inevitable that light duty diesels will completely conquer the market over the next decade or so. You want to disagree? How about we set up a PayPal escrow account to place bets. I'll take any action you want to give me. ;)

Andrey

Anon:

EPA classification puts Prius in mid-size class and Jetta in compact class. EPA fuel consumption estimate for Prius: 60/51 mpg, for Jetta: 36/41 mpg. Canadian estimates: Prius – 4/4 l/100km, Jetta - 7/5 l/100km. So called “real world” estimates are highly subjective and in most cases are just a bogus. Also pay attention that diesel fuel carries about 15% more energy on volume per volume (i.e. requires more crude oil to produce, and emit more CO2) basis than gasoline.

Hybrid drivetrain significantly levels off disadvantages of gasoline engine and advantages of diesel engine, so diesel HEV would have only about 5-10% better fuel efficiency then gasoline HEV, but still will carry additional price premium. For car application diesel HEV so far does not make economical sense.

The only one biofuel which could really substitute significant amount of oil is cellulosic ethanol, which is fuel for SI engines and not for diesel.

If you want to capitalize on your expertise and predictions, stock market is all better choice than private bets.

GEORGE DAVIS

I would be interested in road conditions of various stages
of the route.

fyi CO2

Andrey, I have subsequently deposited capital in your paypal escrow account for your affirmation that the HEV/PHEV is today clearly superior to diesel.

dt

So called “real world” estimates are highly subjective and in most cases are just a bogus. Also pay attention that diesel fuel carries about 15% more energy on volume per volume (i.e. requires more crude oil to produce, and emit more CO2) basis than gasoline.

Well, EPA and all other dynamometer tests are about the most bogus. Anyway, for a typical barrel of crude, straight fractionation yields more diesel than gasoline. We don't get as much of either as we'd like, so we crack heavier fractions into lighter ones. We currently crack more into gasoline from a barrel of oil because that's where the demand currently is, even though it takes less energy to crack into diesel. Diesel also has about 10-12% greater energy density than gasoline.

Hybrid drivetrain significantly levels off disadvantages of gasoline engine and advantages of diesel engine, so diesel HEV would have only about 5-10% better fuel efficiency then gasoline HEV, but still will carry additional price premium. For car application diesel HEV so far does not make economical sense.

Seeing as there are no current diesel hybrid LDVs, and given that what few prototypes exist claim more like a 20% improvement (at least by dynamometer standards) I've no idea where your numbers come from. As for making economical sense, let the market decide.

The only one biofuel which could really substitute significant amount of oil is cellulosic ethanol, which is fuel for SI engines and not for diesel.

Hopefully cellulosic won't be "just around the corner" for the next 10 years, like it has been for 20. In the meantime, biodiesel is here now. And I think a Green Fuel tech algal approach is no less realistic and quite a lot more desireable than cellulosic. Though in the end, we'll probably need every sustainable technology we can get hold of.

anon

Andrey, so you don't want to take my betting action? I won't hold it against you. ;)

I think the term is "well to wheel efficiency". Diesel is superior to gasoline. Simple as that. You can find links to a lot of studies which all bear this out. Google "diesel WTW" and you'll see.

OK, so in theory a diesel engine is a bit more expensive than a gasoline equivalent. That's nice. Care to take into account how much longer that diesel engine will last over the gasoline? I think it is typically 3-4 times! Amortize that out. Or just use simple common sense that you would have to buy 3 or 4 gasoline cars over the lifespan of 1 diesel. Doesn't this clinch it for you???

I await your bet. ;)

Motorist

For anyone who think that Diesel is more expensive to operate than gasoline engine may consider :

1. Most contries in Europe which Diesel is widely popular have high / very high fuel price compared to fuel price (gasoline / Diesel fuel) in US.

2. Income Tax in Europe also high / relatively high, so car owners has to think twice or more in purchasing vehicle.

If Diesel is more expensive to operate, Diesel cars would decrease significantly due to increasing fuel price in Europe.

If Diesel is more expensive to operate, why heavy vehicle, heavy equipment, Locomotive, ships are Diesel powered and not gasoline powered ??

I personally has 2 Gasoline cars & 2 Diesel cars since more than 5 years ago, I also have many friends that using gasoline cars & we often share about our vehicles.

My conclusion so far Diesel is more / far more efficient than similar gasoline vehicle, one of my Diesel car (Toyota IMV Innova MPV) has gasoline sibling with smaller displacement (2500 cc TD CRD vs. 2000 cc VVT-i gas.) the gasoline consumme at least 25% more than it's Diesel sibling on average daily driving, and the Diesel has better middle acceleration & fun to drive at medium speed !!

I'm not fanatic for certain type of engine, but the reality in front of me that Diesel gained popularity everywhere inline with increasing fuel price is really make sense. Now I'm prefer more efficient engine (Diesel) for my daily activity, although in the past I'm also a gasoline lover & still have DOHC VANOS gasoline engine in my garage for weekend driving........hehehehhehehe


Diesel ? Better try & experience it by yourself ! ^_^

Andrey

Dt:
One could argue about how adequate EPA and other governmental tests are. I routinely exceed EPA estimations on both my vehicles, and I am not a slow driver. The important thing is that vehicles are tested in controlled and exactly same manner, and for comparison between them it is paramount.

As you mentioned, diesel have 10-12% higher energy density. So my numbers are in line with claims of pilot diesel HEV of 20% fuel consumption improvement (measured as mpg or l/100km). Measured as thermal efficiency, diesel hybrid yield 20-12=8% improvement in efficiency.

Biodiesel uses only small fraction of biomass, which should be grown, using land, water, fertilizers, fuel, etc. Cellulosic ethanol could use whole biomass of already grown agricultural and forestry wastes. I believe that cellulosic ethanol finally approaches tipping point, but I 100% agree with you that we will need all alternatives possible.

Anon:
I do not bet.
WTW efficiency of diesel compared to gasoline is higher, there is no question about it. Energy demand for distilling crude into gasoline and diesel is about the same. The difference begin if we begin to crack crude to increase gasoline yield, which is the case in US/Canada. Any way, the difference is not big. The real difference is in fuel efficiency of diesel engines, which (on energy basis!) is about 15-20% higher that gasoline engine. No arguing about it either. My point is that hybrid drivetrain is absolutely superior to strait IC vehicle, diesel or gasoline. Now one could argue what primary engine would be better for HEV –diesel or gasoline, and it is not a trivial question. My opinion that for commercial heavy duty vehicle diesel hybrid is better, for privately used car – not.

Modern gasoline engine easily lasts 200-300 thousand miles without overhaul. It is more than enough for average vehicle lifespan. For commercial use diesel engine, which offers double the life of gasoline engine, is clearly superior.

Motorist:

Read again first post of Rafael Seidl on this tread. It has all the answers.

anon

Andrey, for someone who supposedly speaks English as a second language, you adeptly dodged my question and tried to deflect on another issue. I have some suspicions as to who you may really be. ;)

First of all, I'll go with your diesel lasts 2 times longer than gas, low end estimate. Who are you to say that since the supposed lifespan of your hypothetical gas motor is 200-300 thousand miles, that is "more than enough for average vehicle lifespan"??? So since a comparable diesel would last 400-600 thousand miles, that does not matter since you get to decide that we must buy a shorter lifespan vehicle? You are daft, my young friend.

Second, nobody has argued that HEV and PHEV are not better than standard ICE. Where the heck did you come up with that?

Oh, and you agreed, yet disagreed with the WTW of diesel. You agree that WTW is in the favor of diesel. But since refiners choose to do otherwise with their oil and create more gasoline, that is better how??? Barrel of oil in ground = more energy to the diesel wheel if refiners choose to do that. Much easier than the pipe dream of ethanol and the future (far, near??) of cellulosic ethanol. Oh, and biodiesel from algae is such an elegant solution, especially when you add it as a carbon sink for coal fired power stations, ethanol just does not have a chance. Yes, ethanol will be with us for a long time, but biodiesel will be dominant in a decade, give or take.

Wouldn't it be grand if in 10 years, the Andrey's of the world had to come on prime time TV and read a statement as to how ignorant and short sighted they were? How their actions may have delayed the widespread implementation of a technology which greatly reduced the amount of CO2 output of passenger vehicles. How their actions may have only exacerbated global warming and added years of climate instability? Yea, sure, in my dreams.

dt

As you mentioned, diesel have 10-12% higher energy density. So my numbers are in line with claims of pilot diesel HEV of 20% fuel consumption improvement (measured as mpg or l/100km). Measured as thermal efficiency, diesel hybrid yield 20-12=8% improvement in efficiency.

Strange metric, but even if we stipulate that, we're still looking at a 20% improvement. More than that if you're comparing to ethanol. BTW, the only LDV hybrid diesel prototypes I know of are from Citroen and the various PNGV cars, all of which claim 70-75 mpg. Will be interesting to see real world numbers.

Biodiesel uses only small fraction of biomass, which should be grown, using land, water, fertilizers, fuel, etc. Cellulosic ethanol could use whole biomass of already grown agricultural and forestry wastes.

Same is true for BTL. Algal promises 50%, scrubs stack emissions, and you can sequester the rest. Algal has yet to prove it can scale economically, of course -- but so does cellulosic.

I believe that cellulosic ethanol finally approaches tipping point, but I 100% agree with you that we will need all alternatives possible.

Quite so -- it should be "and", not either/or.

Cheryl Ho

there are developments in DME in China today:
We see great potential for DME as a clean alternative fuel . The present diesel oil is a major source of air pollution from diesel engine of trucks and busses in large city like Tokyo. The potential market of diesel oil substitute is larger than LPG. DME is one of ideal fuel for diesel engine. DME vehicles were demonstratively manufactured in Japan, China and Korea and their driving test already started. Practical durability fleet test of a DME truck is under going in Japan.

We are pleased to organise a conference on China taking the lead in the DME market in production from coal and Japan and Korea activities.

If you would like to know more on COAL to Syngas to DME developments, join us at upcoming North Asia DME / Methanol conference in Beijing, 27-28 June 2007, St Regis Hotel. The conference covers key areas which include:


DME productivity can be much higher especially if
country energy policies makes an effort comparable to
that invested in increasing supply.
By:
National Development Reform Commission NDRC
Ministry of Energy for Mongolia

Production of DME/ Methanol through biomass
gasification could potentially be commercialized
By:
Shandong University completed Pilot plant in Jinan and
will be sharing their experience.

Advances in conversion technologies are readily
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By: Kogas, Lurgi and Haldor Topsoe

Available project finance supports the investments
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By: International Finance Corporation

For more information: www.iceorganiser.com

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