For many American consumers, the word "diesel" conjures images of smoke-belching semis and clattery, smelly passenger vehicles. Those negative perceptions are true to a degree: Despite their superior fuel efficiency, diesel engines have a few practical disadvantages. Recent engine technology advancements have made great strides in minimizing the noise and vibration traditionally associated with diesels, but one major demerit remains: subpar emissions quality.
The exhaust fumes from a typical diesel engine are much "dirtier" than a comparable gasoline engine's. Not only is diesel smoke unpleasant, studies have shown it to be unhealthy for humans and the environment. The government is currently taking steps to make diesel vehicles much cleaner: the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recently implemented new laws that mandate the use of a new, cleaner-burning type of diesel fuel named ultra-low sulphur diesel, or ULSD. The EPA's new standards will have significant effects on the petroleum industry, automakers, and consumers.
We'll explore just what ULSD is and the impact it will have on the industry and consumers in the following sections:
- Understanding Ultra Low Sulphur Diesel FuelULSD is a cleaner, more refined fuel than the previous standard for diesel. We'll examine what makes it different, and explain the recently enacted government regulations that will govern the changeover to ULSD. You'll also learn about particulate filters, the next-generation emissions control system that works in concert with ULSD fuel. These advanced filters clean diesel exhaust fumes before they exit the vehicle's exhaust system. We'll also explain why the "old" diesel fuel should not be used with this new technology.
- How Does Ultra Low Sulphur Diesel Fuel Affect You?ULSD is spurring significant changes in the diesel vehicle marketplace. Mercedes-Benz is the first auto manufacturer to introduce passenger vehicles that are designed to run on ULSD, but more are sure to follow. We'll look at Mercedes' current crop of ULSD vehicles for 2007, and what the manufacturer has on deck for 2008. We'll also preview new products on the horizon from other manufacturers, and examine how Mercedes' new diesel models stack up against comparable gas/electric hybrid models on sticker price and fuel economy.