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VW Diesel Buyers, Hybrid Buyers: Both Want Fuel Economy, But Beyond That...

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"Hybrid VW" license plate from 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid drive event

"Hybrid VW" license plate from 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid drive event

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When the 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid arrives at dealers in late December or early January, VW will become the only carmaker offering both a diesel engine and a hybrid model of the same compact sedan.

Why two such different approaches?

Because, Volkswagen says, the audiences for the two cars are actually very different--and there's very little crossover from one to the other.

As part of its launch event last night, Rainer Michel, vice president of product marketing and strategy for Volkswagen of America, discussed the two different sets of buyers.

Using data from research firm Strategic Vision, Volkswagen looked at buyers of the Honda Civic Hybrid, the Toyota Prius, and the Honda Insight.

The company found that almost half the Toyota Prius buyers considered no other vehicle at all. Of those who did look at alternative choices, none had considered the Volkswagen Jetta TDI.

One-third of buyers of the diesel Jetta TDI, however, considered no other make than Volkswagen. And a mere 5 percent looked at the hybrid Toyota Prius as a competitor.

As Michel's presentation noted, "Jetta Hybrid will allow VW to attract new customers who don't consider TDI as a legitimate rival to hybrids; those customers equate hybrid with eco-friendly."

Moreover, the Jetta TDI and hybrid buyers differed demographically as well.

Buyers of the three competitive hybrids were just 51 percent male, 78 percent of them were married, 89 percent had no kids in the household, and their average age was 61.

Jetta TDI buyers, on the other hand, included far more men than women. Fewer of them were married, but more of them had children in the house, and they were fully 17 years younger, with an average age of 44.

Michel reiterated several times that the new hybrid Jetta was not a competitor for the longstanding and much-loved Jetta TDI diesel sedan.

2011 Volkswagen Jetta

2011 Volkswagen Jetta

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Instead, he said, the new model would bring new buyers to the Jetta model, those who would not previously have considered buying a Jetta because they didn't feel it had sufficiently high fuel economy.

The company projects that the new Jetta Hybrid will comprise about 5 percent of overall Jetta sales.

Last year, Volkswagen sold 150,000 Jetta sedans, meaning hybrid sales next year could number roughly 7,500.

What do you think: Is Volkswagen right? Are diesel buyers and hybrid buyers two distinct groups?

Leave us your thoughts in the Comments below.

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Comments (57)
  1. Interesting article! Thanks for all the information to confirm my past comments:

    1. Toyota buyers are getting old, that is why there is a Scion brand. In the case of Prius, it is even more so.

    "Buyers of the three competitive hybrids were just 51 percent male, 78 percent of them were married, 89 percent had no kids in the household, and their average age was 61."


    2. Toyota Prius buyers are "blindly loyal".

    "The company found that almost half the Toyota Prius buyers considered no other vehicle at all."


    3. Diesel fans usually care more about performance than just MPG like Prius buyers (who don't care about anything except for MPG).


    I think VW is right and it is great that it is trying to design cars for all groups.
     
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  2. Toyota also got the "quality" in its brand name where at least in the US, VW doesn't have the same reputation. Although it is improving.

    But for all you Diesel fans out there, Prius emits about 1/3 of the pollution as a Jetta TDI in terms of CO, HC and NOx... For that alone, Diesel will NEVER be as clean as a hybrid.

    So, for those people who care about MPG and air quality, hybrid will win out. VW is correct in trying to cover that market segment.
     
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  3. "But for all you Diesel fans out there, Prius emits about 1/3 of the pollution as a Jetta TDI in terms of CO, HC and NOx... For that alone, Diesel will NEVER be as clean as a hybrid."

    No. You are wrong. And the EPA argument is invalid.
     
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  4. @Annatar: I'm fascinated. Please explain how "the EPA argument is invalid".
     
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  5. We have been over this before. How many times must this be chewed over?

    EPA has not disclosed what their testing methods are nor what their process looks like.

    How is it that the European testing cycle results differ by as much as 25%-30% from EPA's?

    And also how is it that in TDI's case, people are consistently reporting better results than the official EPA results?

    And also how is is that Hyndai and Honda have had to retract their EPA based claims of fuel efficiency once people took them to court?

    EPA results are garbage. As they say in computer science: "garbage in, garbage out".
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  6. @Annatar Last Name,

    The emission is measured at the tailpipe. CARB also designate the emission as well.

    You keep mentioned the CO2 emission which is different from the NOX, CO, HC and particulate emission. Also, the emission is heavily dependent on the fuel. In the US, the fuel are dirtier. If you run bio-diesel, then it will be cleaner.

    Hyundia cheated their EPA regulated testing. It was found to be "fraud" during the EPA Audit.
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  7. Also, you can read the emission test results from your emission tests.
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  8. Show me the proof other wise. So far, you have BEEN WRONG. All you have shown are CO2 emission and NOTHING else. Show me the NOX, CO, HC and particulates emission and compare it to a hyrid.

    In CARB's emission requirement, NO CLEAN Hybrids can meet the PZEV emission regulation. It is the "smog" score that diesel FAIL!!!
     
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  9. "...NO CLEAN Hybrids can meet the PZEV emission regulation. It is the "smog" score that diesel FAIL!!!..."

    Nissan claims that it has developed SULEV-level clean diesel technology (http://www.nissan-global.com/EN/TECHNOLOGY/OVERVIEW/sulev_lcdt.html), so it appears to be technically achievable.

    Also, please see my calculations at http://webpages.charter.net/lmar/emissions2012.html to see why I think SULEV or PZEV is not a valid metric in comparing environmental impacts of vehicles with different fuels.
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  10. That should be http://webpages.charter.net/lmarz/emissions2012.html for the PZEV gasoline vs ULEV diesel emissions calculations.
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  11. Fail nothing!

    When I nail the gas pedal and all that tree stump-pulling torque pushes me back in my seat at 1,750 RPM, and I still get 42 MPG, that is no failure, that is winning and grinning all the way while I'm UPSHIFTING to pass all the selfish people in the passing lane with their eyes popping when their SUV cannot keep up with my sportwagon!
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  12. "...But for all you Diesel fans out there, Prius emits about 1/3 of the pollution as a Jetta TDI in terms of CO, HC and NOx... For that alone, Diesel will NEVER be as clean as a hybrid.

    So, for those people who care about MPG and air quality, hybrid will win out...."

    I disagree. "Tailpipe" emissions are only part of the story. Gasoline in highly volatile and as a result, has vastly higher "upstream" emissions of HC (VOC). HC emissions are the primary villain in ground-level ozone ("smog") formation.
     
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  13. According to EPA,

    Here is what Prius comparing with Jetta/Passat Diesel in terms of Smog rating for cars in the state of CA according to EPA. http://iaspub.epa.gov/greenvehicles/Trio.do


    (Prius vs. Jetta TDI vs. Passat TDI)
    NOx 0.02 vs. 0.07 vs. 0.07
    CO 1.0 vs. 2.1 vs. 2.1
    NMOG 0.01 vs. 0.055 vs. 0.055

    Smog-forming Pollution:
    (pounds per year) 0.99 4.13 4.13

    Greenhouse Gases Emitted:
    (tons per year) 2.97 4.96 4.96

    I will be curious what the new Jetta hybrid would do in terms of smog emission. I am guessing it will be much lower than the Diesel.
     
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  14. Considering the hybrid doesn't run its ICE constantly during the testing cycle and the TDI's do - Apple vs Oranges
     
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  15. Really?

    Okay, let us assume that your "assumption" is true, which is NOT.

    Hybrids have to run constantly at HWY speed, right? Even with 45% hwy cycle, the Hybrid should be at least about 45% of the Diesel emission right? The number are still in favor of Hybrid.

    And your assumption is wrong as well since it is tail pipe emission and in CA those Diesels are rated below the hybrid rating in emission level.
     
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  16. Adding a hybrid Jetta to their options is a good first start. However, what about a Jetta TDI Hybrid? I would hope that model would get 60-70 mpg and allow you to run B20 biodiesel as an alternative to straight petroleum diesel. (I currently have a '99 Jetta TDI running B20 and B100 biodiesel after a hose retrofit. It has 331,000 miles on it)
     
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  17. That is certainly doable. But I believe one issue is cost. Diesel is more expensive and hybrids are more expensive. Both added together will be even more expensive especially with all the special emission regulation devices added to the car. The second issue is that Diesel Hybrid would have to be engineered to accomendate the frequent start/stop features. That will require new ways to keep the Diesel warm in order to reduce emission. That means additional cost without much savings at low speed.

    That is why so many hybrids use Atkinson cycle engines. It is more efficient, but has very low power and torque. But it is okay since Electric motor will compensate for it.
     
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  18. "However, what about a Jetta TDI Hybrid?"

    That would be a viable alternative if it came with a manual transmission and as a sportwagon.

    Otherwise - no. Wait, let me think about that some more. No.
     
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  19. "3. Diesel fans usually care more about performance than just MPG like Prius buyers (who don't care about anything except for MPG)."

    As a diesel fan, I can say that I care about all these things, equally:

    - performance
    - fuel efficiency
    - practicality
    - handling
    - styling
    - transmission type
    - propulsion type.

    But most importantly, as a diesel fan, I refuse to compromise on any of those. With hybrids available on the market, I would have the make compromises I do not currently have to make with a clean diesel vehicle.

    To me, that is crucial.
     
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  20. I think they're right. Either way, great to have options. Throw this child-free 26 y/o male in the hybrid camp.
     
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  21. Gays or people who want to make a green statement buy Toyota Prius, if the hybrid car does not look like a hybrid, they wont buy it, thats why the hybrid civic failed, it didnt look hybridy enough.
     
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  22. @Shazia: What an interesting comment. Please share your data on ownership of the Toyota Prius by members of the LGBTQ community. That would add weight to your statement, avoiding the possibility that it's just a gross generalization.
     
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  23. @Shazia: And, btw, the Honda Civic Hybrid is hardly a failure. It's on sale as a 2012 and 2013 model, and now in its third generation. Honda has sold more than 100,000 of them since its introduction.
     
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  24. That sounds like a high school level slam: "Gays drive Pruis."

    I was curious to read that the average of hybrid ownership is 61. That can't be right or I guess the older folks are more interested in gas mileage than I thought.
     
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  25. @Douglas: The data came from Strategic Vision, a relatively well-respected research firm that surveys new-car buyers in detail regularly.

    Why would you think that hybrid buyers do not average 61?
     
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  26. Just visit CA for once and you will see why. Since Prius is the best selling car line in CA, it is easily to see why the average age is 61... Lots of REALLY old people drive Prius in California.

    It makes sense. Old people don't care about "performance" anymore. So the "negative" part of the Prius is NOT part of the concern.

    But they do care about "money" since they are usually limited on income and CA gas is expensive... Buying Prius makes sense in terms of "cost saving"...

    How often do you see older people drive like me? Almost never. I even know older guys who were "former pilots" from air force drive Prius (I know, that is sterotype since I am assuming that pilot love performance) b/c it just saves them a lot of gas money.
     
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  27. Actually, caring about "performance" should be #1 priority in CA. A diesel owner never has to worry about climbing steep hills thanks to a nice flat torque curve. The diesel's unique torque curve is a performance characteristic that all in CA should have as one of the top priorities.
     
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  28. I would agree. But most people in CA lives in the valley...

    The only time you need the "climbing" power in CA is when you go to extreme south, north or East...

    If you just want to cruise around in the SF Bay Area or LA basin, then performance is not critical.

    But I agree with you. Personally, I use the "performance" a lot, especially when passing slow cars hogging the left lanes going uphill...
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  29. There are more comments in this thread
  30. I'm on my 3rd TDI in the past 10 years (an 03 Golf, 10 JSW & now 13 JSW). I've put 300k + miles on them. The TDI is ideal for the type of driving I do (80 miles of basically freeway driving every day and then roaming all over the western US for photography & golf). A hybrid would not fare as well as my TDIs have, so after researching hybrids back in t eearly 2000s and figureing out that hybrid technology is intended for basically city driving, there has been no reason fro me to look at one as it dosen't fit my needs.

    My TDIs have been fun to drive (buckets of torque under my right foot), and I get 600+ miles on a tank of fuel, so I only stop when I want to stop for something.
     
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  31. So what is your MPG average?
     
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  32. my 2003 Golf did 270,000 and averaged 40.25, I ran my 2010 JSW 85,000 and got 40.5 and I'm 6,000 miles into a 2013 JSW and lifetime for this one is 42.4
     
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  33. i have both a hybrid and a diesel and like them both.
     
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  34. VW: Make everybody happy and offer a deisel/hybrid that gets 65 MPG.
     
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  35. Interesting, we have a diesel Mini Cooper in England and the lifetime mpg over 9500 miles is currently 56.6 this is a combination of runs under 50 miles on main roads and in town driving so diesel is good for us! The car is quite quick as well
     
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  36. @Mervyn: Are those Imperial gallons or U.S. gallons? They're not the same thing, and U.K. fuel-efficiency figures have to be reduced appropriately to make them comparable to U.S. figures.
     
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  37. Yes John those are Imperial gallons which will make a difference I presume.
     
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  38. That is 47mpg US...

    Supposely a much larger Ford Fusion Hybrid and C-Max Hybrid will get the same 47mpg comparing to the Mini. Also, the larger (than Mini) Prius should be able to do the same...
     
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  39. You guys get a choice of several different clean diesel engines in almost every make and model of a vehicle, and every one of those has a manual transmission, while we here in the U.S. are stuck with a handful of models almost all of which are automatics and have only one diesel engine option. If we are lucky.

    I can in no uncertain terms say that I hate the current North American car market's lack of options and choices.

    I want the same choices as you guys have in Europe here in the United States.
     
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  40. The obvious solution would have been to make a diesel hybrid. This is where traditional marketing research fails. It is just marketing research instead of a little simple vision.
     
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  41. Here's a new diesel offering from VW that gets 73mpg yet can go 125mph. It has a range of 970 miles from it's 13 Gal tank! Not sure why someone would want any brand of hybrid if they brought this car to the U.S. Everyone reading this should email VW and tell them to bring the Golf BlueMotion to the U.S. ASAP!

    Check it out here: http://www.vwvortex.com/news/volkswagen-news/volkswagen-golf-bluemotion-concept/
     
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  42. Actually, we covered this car here:
    http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1079454_vw-unveils-high-mileage-diesel-golf-in-paris-that-the-u-s-wont-get
     
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  43. I believe the research company has it right: Diesel and Hybrid shoppers are different people. Green leaning individuals feel good about burning less fossil fuel with the Hybrid. No contest there. Diesel does burn fossil fuel. But, how about emissions? At 15K, you can run your finger inside the exhaust pipe and it comes out clean. This is a clear indication that fuel is being burnt extremely efficiently. Try that on a Hybrid exhaust pipe. I suspect you will have carbon on your finger.
    Diesel engines using compression to ignite the fuel has always intrigued me. Hybrid technology is cool, but I like diesel and chose a Jetta TDI instead of a hybrid. I'll never have to replace batteries either. $$$$
     
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  44. "This is a clear indication that fuel is being burnt extremely efficiently. Try that on a Hybrid exhaust pipe. I suspect you will have carbon on your finger."

    I did that with my Volt that has AT-PZEV emission package. Clean.

    That finger tests don't work with NOX and CO emission, those are much higher in Diesel than hybrids.
     
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  45. You are touching the pipe of a PHEV. For all we know, you could have used battery power for all of your miles. But you have a good point on the NOx emissions. Sadly Americans don't care about emissions. As our trucking, shipping, and train fleets transfer to LNG, where will that diesel go? The gas tank of cars around America. Instead of trying to get off oil, we'll just redistribute it in transportation so we use the whole barrel like we do now. I don't see why people use so much plastic and oil. They both suck for most things…
     
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  46. "Because, Volkswagen says, the audiences for the two cars are actually very different--and there's very little crossover from one to the other."

    Yep, Volkswagen is correct. It does not happen often, but on this count, they are right.

    If they did bring a diesel hybrid, it would probably be an automatic-only vehicle, a big, big no-no in the clean diesel car market.
     
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  47. They could do a PHEV with a generator or a CVT transmission, getting great milage. Why is that a bad idea?
     
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  48. "Jetta Hybrid will allow VW to attract new customers who don't consider TDI as a legitimate rival to hybrids; those customers equate hybrid with eco-friendly."

    Ironically, the hybrid consumes slightly more fuel than the diesel, has slower acceleration, much less torque, and according to the automotive press, costs around $2,200 more.
     
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  49. The way I look at this is different: Current hybrids are best in cities, where regenerative braking can save a lot of fuel. The extra weight of the battery and complex transmission actually hurt highway mileage (some hybrids have lower highway mileage than city mileage). By comparison, diesels seem to excel at highway driving, with their great range on a tank of fuel, and great durability because they use an oil instead of a solvent as a fuel. Regarding a diesel/hybrid combo, I believe the weight penalty of a hybrid battery and transmission coupled with the heavier diesel engine would eat up many of the expected fuel savings.
     
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  50. From what I've read, one of the main issues with a diesel hybrid would be the cost to build which would have to be passed on to the buyer. Both the diesel and hybrid drive trains are more expensive than a conventional gasser and there-in lies much of the problem with being able to deliver what would likely be an extremely fuel efficient vehicle to the market.
     
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  51. Ford once had plans for a diesel hybrid but predictably, it did not eventuate. I am not interested in a gasoline engine hybrid either. I want a diesel hybrid. This would eclipse the Prius in fuel economy across the board (the Jetta diesel eclipses the Prius in interstate driving). A hybrid diesel would be much cleaner than a straight diesel because there would be no idling and much more uniform loading. Using the scheme where both engine and electric motor can run together, a smaller diesel could be used such as that used in VW's "3-liter" Lupo (3 liters of fuel per 100km = 78 mpg). Repetitive starting of a small diesel would not be an issue. If market research presented it this way, the results would be quite different.
     
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  52. In reference to the question about whether diesel and hybrid buyers are two distinct groups I propose a second question. How distinct would the two groups be if hybrids didn't come with expensive batteries that wear out and must eventually be replaced to maintain vehicle efficiency?

    The Porsche/Audi flywheel hybrid system that has raced with such success seems to have that potential along with supposedly lower initial cost than a traditional battery-electric hybrid.
     
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  53. How about a Jetta Hybrid with a Diesel motor, like Peugeot 3008 HYbrid4?
     
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  54. Funny reading the back & forth on gas/electric hybrids versus diesels. Recent reports do establish the production of gas / electric hybrids as having a much higher pollution quotient than the gas /or diesel. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 or 4 times the polutants emmited mbecuase of the production processes of the batteries. Also the gas/electric hybrids take an additional toll on adding to pollution if they are recharged on an electrical grid that depends on coal fired generators. Enough said.
     
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  55. Wrong Rich. Dead Wrong. Ditto for Annatar.
    It never ceases to amaze me what LIARS you Diesel fan-boys are. Diesel refining is 10x worse for the environment than Lithium mining. Don't go spouting your right-wing nonsense that you saw on Faux news unless you can back up your facts. And you know nothing about EVs. They do NOT use coal power, since most charge at night, when coal and gas power down. So, most EVs use NUCLEAR and WIND. And even if they did, so what? That's the difference between a Hybrid driver and a Diesel driver. The hybrid driver would rather "fill-up" with Wyoming coal than Saudi oil; the diesel driver would prefer not to think about these things.
     
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  56. "when coal power shut down"

    You realize it takes 2-3 days for a coal generator to fire back up? They don't "shut down" they go on standby. Coal is only good as a base for the power grid because of that, even though places like here in Ohio are almost 100% coal. They burn it at night and just put it into steam.

    This power, of course, will be wasted anyway. So plugging in an electric car at night produces no new pollution, it runs on wasted energy. This is why electric cars are so clean.
     
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  57. Why not make a hybrid diesel car? Makes me think of the volt, why didn't they throw in a small diesel engine? It would make so much more sense.
     
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