Audi made history at this year’s Le Mans. Its not that Audi has never won at Le Mans, they have, but this time it was done with a diesel powered car that dominated the race. It finished four laps ahead of the second place finisher. The comment from the competition was “The Audi was just too fast. They were faster than us under acceleration, under braking, almost everywhere.”
I think most us have experienced diesel engines used in construction equipment and semi tractor trailers. There have been a few diesel cars in the US such as some Mercedes sedans and after the second gas crisis Ford and other domestic manufacturers converted their gasoline V8 engines to diesel – with disastrous results.
In the eighties diesel powered trucks were known for belching clouds of black soot from their stacks. The average amount of particulates exhausted by a diesel truck was about 450 pounds a year. Today it is a mere eight pounds.
Diesel cars in Europe have excellent performance, are as quiet as their gasoline brethren, and provide far better economy. BMW has a diesel sedan that is faster than its gasoline powered counterpart.
And europeans have another advantage. Cleaner burning diesel fuel than is available in the US. This is about to change, thank goodness, and the US fuel will burn cleaner.
Some day hydrogen and electric powered cars may have the performance we expect out of the current crop of gasoline powered cars, but the future looks like diesel. The Audi race car was not only faster, it had better mileage. It could do 15 laps on a tank while the competition could only achieve 13.