Petrol or Diesel or any other fuel – you decide

Once again, we are back to the same topic of whether one should go for petrol or diesel. Yes, we know it’s a repeated topic and with petrol rates hitting an all time high of Rs 65, its not that hard to checkout whether a petrol or diesel car would suit you more. Everyone have their mindset skewed towards diesel cars. Forget the initial extra money that you have to pay to get a diesel car, but it still makes sense. Recently a conference held in India promoted the value of having diesel cars over petrol ones and how diesels have become cleaner over the years and no longer are they the fume spewing thing that they were earlier. This conference was called as “Advancement of Diesel Technologies”. It’s a surprising fact now that many of the petrol engined cars throw up more of the harmful emissions stuff than some of the diesel cars combined.

The Conference also had a discussion on that international manufacturers setting their foot on the Indian soil should actually bring in diesel engines which are more suited to the Indian climate rather than just bringing in the western era ones. There were as many as 7 speakers in the conference and each one turn by turn stressed on the need for having more diesel cars in India. In the west, diesel is costlier than petrol by a fair margin and hence people in Europe or the US are more inclined towards “gas”. Director of ARAI, Shrikant Marathe, in a recent conference held on April 2011, said that Indians should rightfully switch to diesel cars. This would ensure that the manufacturers bring in their best and there would be a healthy competition. It’s the end user who would actually benefit from all this competition. Diesel as a fuel has been used widely in India since the time trucks were used for transporting goods around. Even in the US, from the Diesel Technology Forum, Dr Allen Schaffer says that they have tried to promote diesel in the US aggressively. His point was that the negatives of diesel are few but then the positives far outweigh them. Diesel cannot be called as an entirely clean fuel however it can be called as clean as some of the alternative fuels used. Performance, efficiency and also concern for the nature are to be viewed when considering a diesel over petrol car. By the way, both these energy reserves are important in their own right.

Indian economy has been influenced in a big way by the subsidizing of diesel fuel since India’s backbone in the trade sector within the country is diesel fuel. In US, Japan or even western Europe, a rapid increase in the market share of diesel as a fuel increased rapidly with the low sulphur diesel been eventually phased out. In India, however the case was different since use of diesel in engines resulted in some heath hazards initially. Bosch has played a big hand in the manufacture of diesel engines in India. Its GM for the Diesel Section, Dr, Kopp Carsten said that the Indian market requires a special care as the people just love diesel engined cars. To be more specific, he said that custom made engines need to be delivered to the Indian customers. He also said that manufacturers who think that they can just put in their European diesel engines under the hood of Indian cars would make a big mistake. There are many technologies namely the Selective Catalytic Reduction or SCR can actually lower the fuel consumption as also the notorious emissions from diesel engines. However it has a high cost attached to it and also needs some tinkering to go ahead with urea being released into the atmosphere. He said that it is personal thinking that the Government should give atleast a 4 years waiting period to OEM suppliers and automobile manufacturers so that they can actually plan how to reduce the emissions and at the same time provide better fuel efficiency and also performance in diesel cars.

The Government of India was all supportive to having a minimum fuel efficiency requirement from passenger cars and then later on move to trucks and buses. However the entire automobile industry stood against this and hence the government couldn’t actually enforce any legislations. The entire automobile industry wanted such norms to be enforced after the year 2017. Just like in the US, manufacturers would now have to cite the carbon emission ratings and stuff before they can actually sell their vehicles. The Energy Conservation Act would take care of ensuring that every car passes through a rating test and the one getting 5 stars would be deemed the most efficient machine as far as energy conservation goes. Two percent of the harmful emissions can be brought down by this method and this is per year. Recent reports say that the Government of India is very keen to ensure that the emissions norms fall into place by the year 2015 itself and not later. Auto manufacturers would eventually have to agree to this. While diesel motors are far more efficient than petrol plus have higher bar of performance as compared to their petrol counterparts, they also contribute to the Nitrogen Oxide levels in the atmosphere. Recent reports suggest that about 50 percent of the atmospheric Nitrogen is contributed by diesel cars. Also diesel engines are supposed to be the cause of many diseases like carcinogenic ones, pulmonary heart disorders and also cardio vascular stuff. In Europe, emission norms such as Euro 5 and Euro 6 are going to be implemented soon and hence a reduction in particles is expected in huge numbers.

Recently one of Europe’s major car manufacturing firm was quoted as saying that while everyone feels that the car buying populace should adopt the green technology by going in for alternate fuelled vehicles, they never understand the huge costs plus reliability factor which comes with this alternative fuel options. Moreover the high sticker price deter many from buying them and this means that these vehicles would be no good for the environment as also for the entire industry. Also the total electric cars would require frequent charging and if no charging point happens to be around, then the driver would be stuck with his car. More and more hybrid fuel pump stations need to be opened across the world and this would help in promotion of the alternate fuel powered vehicles. Unless this is done along with the subsidies offered on green vehicles, the momentum would be lost and alternate fuels would eventually lose out against the traditional diesel unit.

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