The People’s Car, Our friends over there can own it, but you can’t!

Suzuki Swift Turbo

I’ve mentioned the little Suzuki Swift Turbo Inter-cooled Diesel Before, this is a prime example of the auto that MIT said would likely rule the road as per efficiency through the year 2040.  Nothing  on the drawing board comes close to the compression  ignition engine which delivers far more work for the energy dollar.

At 61.4 MPG, and with performance auto enthusiasts are giddy over, you can travel 30,000 miles for the same money it cost to purchase and install the optional 240 VAC home charger for the Chevy Volt!  When you consider that the inner city crowd make up the majority of folks attracted to the Chevy Volt, and the limited amount of miles they drive, the cost of the Volt home battery charger and installation could pay for all the fuel the Suzuki might use over the average period of ownership for this group of drivers.  This is based on $3 a gallon fuel cost, and the information I found on the GM Chevy Volt forum.  The optional charger allows you to charge the battery in as little as four hours, the 120 volt charger system won’t cut it for most drivers.

Of course your friends who are all excited by the Chevy Volt will think this Zuk is a stinker! Nothing  could be further from the truth, read the article.. 

The only thing that stands between us and the People’s Car is the EPA. There’s a new conspiracy theory I heard… was it out of wikileaks? It’s reported that American Big Oil bribed top officials at the EPA in order to keep the super high efficiency vehicles out of the Country….. Ralph Nader Killed the Corvair, and now this… when will the corruption end? When will the American public be able to own the cars they want?

As I look at the hybrids and think about the advantages we might all visualize in stop and go traffic, my thoughts are interruped by reality.. I think of all the days here that it’s so wet, the windshield wipers on, the heater and defrosters going to keep a safe view of the road in all directions, and other reasons the power consumption is high.  About the time these conditions let up, it’s too hot, the AC is on as we watch the heat waves rise from the hot asphalt. But there’s more to think about. In EV mode, we might charge batteries  off the grid, but what kind of losses have we then inserted between the distant prime mover and the rear wheels of our Car? What investment will it take to assure the grid can handle the charge current of all these EVs?

Some will note, compression ignition engines run cool while idling, it’s a sign of their far better efficiency, and under realistic conditions, and over a reasonable periods of time, it’s going to be very difficult for the EVs to deliver cost per mile at less cost than a diesel like the Zuk. I say the Volt doesn’t have a chance. History will tell. The Zuk Diesel is my choice for ‘Car of the Year’ 

OK, OK, I can hear it now..some will say.. “you don’t understand, the Volt is no People’s car, there’s more luxury here, it’s a step up from your diesel Zuk” my reply… “Then why are all Americans forced to subsidize it, let the wealthier people buy their own Volt”.           

All the best,
George B.
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7 Responses to The People’s Car, Our friends over there can own it, but you can’t!

  1. Quinn says:

    Hey George,

    I saw that same 61.4 mpg figure in an article on an Irish website. If that’s an Imperial gallon they’re quoting, then it works out to about 53 miles/U.S. gallon. One Imperial gallon = 1.2 U.S. gallons. Don’t know if the original article stated which gallon they were using, but since the cars are sold in the U.K . . . YMMV, as they say.

    • George B. says:

      Quinn, an obvious oversite on my part, I wish we’d all use the litre for comparision. Do note the extended urban figure they show as 69 MPG. Steady state Hiway driving here should produce some exciting numbers, and no batteries to replace, and likely far less electrical and electronic stuff to go wrong AFTER the warranty period. The true cost of ownership has a lot to do with what you sell the car for when you’re done with it. If you have a seven year old diesel, there are a lot of people who will want it.. If you have a seven year old hybrid, I’d expect a lot of people would want a heavy discount in anticipation of replacing the battery.

      • Quinn says:

        Sure, but the current Insight available in the U.S. gets only 43 mph Highway, and 40 City. Half of what the European Insight gets. Thank you, EPA! So you have to go with what you can get.

        Since you brought it up, I think the idea of load-leveling using a battery and electric motor in parallel with an Atkinson-cycle engine in the Prius is a good idea. Sort of the same concept as running a slow speed engine of modest horsepower with large flywheels in generator service. It’s a numbers game for me. At $3/gallon over 7 years, I figure I save about $10,000 in gas between my the 4-cylinder Xterra that I traded in on my Prius.

        Replacement batteries for the Prius are about $2500 now. If I have to give back some of that savings later, that’s OK with me. I still come out ahead. In the meantime, I’m enjoying getting motorcycle-fuel-economy from a comfortable, quiet car that seats 5 and has no problem doing 100 mph (don’t ask me how I know). I drive 425 miles and fill up with only about 9 gallons. “Oh what a feeling!”

        That said, were a diesel available in a small car that I could register in Kali-Fornia, I’d jump on it.

        • admin says:

          We’ll see a diesel hybrid.. Europe might already have one..

          I own a 1991 Ford Explorer, it is approaching 250,000 trouble free miles. Since it has no value, Insurance is now low, I paid cash for it in 1992.
          It would be interesting to calculate cost per mile..
          I can apply savings on insurance and payments to buy all the fuel, but that happens because the car is driven carefully, and the 4.0 engine was developed and sorted out over many years, the 4.0 started out as the 2.6 in the imported Capri, they had two generations of engineers at Ford to get this power plant right.

          DIYers keep their cars longer, we’ll see how the hybrids
          fair long term, any trip to a dealer off warranty is going to get in your pocket. There are stories that the Prius is not making Toyota money, I have no idea how true that is, but I suspect that they have been subsidizing the program, will it pay off? Time will tell.. Rare Earth and other materials are potential issues, we’ll see.

          KISS wins a lot of races, will it win this one? For people like us who are seldom impressed with ‘new’, the cost of ownership over a longer period of time than the average American may be a factor. We are after all.. DIYers…

  2. George B. says:

    we’ll use UK for further examples of what we can’t have.

    Look what leads the pack in practical efficiency

  3. Matt S says:

    You mention that the EPA might have been bribed (no evidence and a not quite accusation accusation), but somehow don’t mention how much pollutants the car puts out. How about you tell the whole story?

    • George B. says:

      Good God Matt! Have you no sense of Humor? Where have you been for the last 30 years? Have you not heard that Big Oil runs and controls everything?
      As per emissions, if you read the UK article, you’ll note the car got high marks for emissions over there, no reason it won’t make it over here, and besides, the VW diesels are back…

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