swisskloten
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Do You Prefer Flexfuel, Diesel Or Hybrid?

Mon Sep 05, 2005 10:19 am

What are the advantages of flex fuel? I've only heard about it a few times. What is it? Can a standard gasoline car be converted to run on flex fuel? Does it deliver better mileage? My Dodge currently averages a pretty shitty 18 mpg city driving. I'm seriously thinking about getting rid of it. I'll just get a 4-cylinder next time even though it might hold only 13 gallons in the tank.

Diesel engines are built to last a long time and they get about 5 mpg better than similar engines. Still, does anyone see the price of diesel skyrocketing permanently to $4 a gallon in the future?

Finally, there's the hybrid. I like the concept: use the gasoline to get the car moving and the electric engine kicks in. The problem is the horrible expense and, worse, most hybrids don't offer any huge advantage over their diesel counterparts. Example: a Honda hybrid was tested and the magazine told its readers to skip it and get a 4-cylinder diesel. Also, nobody has ever released reliability figures or repair estimates. Does having a hybrid double the risk of a breakdown? Can one engine function without the other and for how long? If I had a hybrid for city driving, I would be comfortable. If I was to drive across several states, I would be nervous about one of the engines having problems.

What would you pick and why?
 
aa757first
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RE: Do You Prefer Flexfuel, Diesel Or Hybrid?

Mon Sep 05, 2005 10:44 am

There aren't too many diesel vehicles on the road today. The only non-SUV/Truck vehicles I can think of are some VWs. Am I right?

I, too, have never heard of FlexFuel. Is it new? New to the US? Where do you get it?

AAndrew
 
MD11junkie
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RE: Do You Prefer Flexfuel, Diesel Or Hybrid?

Mon Sep 05, 2005 10:49 am

Is FlexFuel, LPG? I've heard its quite good. But I'd go on diesels, all the way. Turbo Diesel engines, are just the best.

Cheers! wave 
Gaston - The MD11 Junkie
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LeanOfPeak
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RE: Do You Prefer Flexfuel, Diesel Or Hybrid?

Mon Sep 05, 2005 10:58 am

The most common FFV is the E85/gasoline FFV, which can run on the 85%-ethanol blend E85, gas, or any mix of the two. A standard gasoline car, to be converted, would need to be certified as at least as clean as it was before conversion. No company has gone to the expense of doing so yet.

Diesel fuel, being a high-percentage petroleum product, will likely increase and decrease in price pretty closely to gasoline for the foreseeable future. There will, however, probably be some increase in price with the implementation of low-sulfur fuel requirements in the United States. Most diesels are also capable of running on low-percentage alternative fuel mixes out of the box, or higher-percentage alternative fuel mixes (Up to straight alternative fuel) with modifications.

Hybrids are opening up a real can of worms. You'll get proponents and detractors. The magazine to which you refer told its readers there is no economic justification for the price premium of a hybrid. At present gas prices, unless you drive A LOT of miles a year, with most of them in the city, that is true. If you want your car to be a political statement, as gas prices have risen, the price penalty for doing so has reduced. If you drive A LOT of miles a year (Particularly if the bulk are in the city), you might just pay off the initial investment and start to make a profit. Otherwise, it's a bet gas will continue to increase, but not become impossible to get.

Personally, I don't drive enough miles a year for any of those options to pay off, and I fully plan on keeping my current vehicle for some time to come. If I were looking at a new vehicle anyway, I would look at FFV as a tie-breaker on two vehicles I otherwise liked equally well. I can not justify the price premium for a truck diesel unless it's needed to accomplish the job at hand, and none of the car diesels on the market in the US interest me (Look for growth in this area after low-sulfur fuel is introduced). A hybrid I can not justify in my circumstances, but your circumstances might be different.

Be aware, however, that the ecological credentials of a CNG vehicle are greater than those of a hybrid, that the up-front price difference for a new vehicle is about the same (or less for a used one), and that the fuel cost savings (Unless you drive almost exclusively in the city) are greater. Primary drawbacks of this approach include loss of trunk space, annual inspections of the cylinder, and availability of the fuel (This should be investigated thorougly for any alternative fuel aspirations you may have, regardless of the fuel you choose, and don't build your strategy around a single station).
 
satx
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RE: Do You Prefer Flexfuel, Diesel Or Hybrid?

Mon Sep 05, 2005 11:21 am

Quoting Swisskloten (Thread starter):
use the gasoline to get the car moving and the electric engine kicks in.

On the Honda Civic Hybrid that I own, the electric motor assists during acceleration and then leaves the cruising to the gasoline engine.

Quoting Swisskloten (Thread starter):
The problem is the horrible expense

I paid a couple thousand (1,590.22 EUR) more than a conventional Civic, but I also got nearly every standard trim accessory (except the moon roof) and even some hybrid-specific trim enhancements that no other Civic had, such as automatic temperature control and nicer seat fabric.

Quoting Swisskloten (Thread starter):
Example: a Honda hybrid was tested and the magazine told its readers to skip it and get a 4-cylinder diesel.

Magazine? Specific models of hybrid and diesel? It's hard for me to comment about a vague description like that. In general, I get 40-45 MPG (17-19 kilometers per liter) in the summer and 45-50 MPG (19-21 kilometers per liter) in the winter. That's still fairly good, even compared to a diesel engine. Also, Hybrids have lower emissions of particulate pollution in their exhaust. Diesels have improved since the early days, but they still are not as clean as Hybrids or even high efficiency conventional gasoline/petrol engines from what I understand.

Quoting Swisskloten (Thread starter):
Also, nobody has ever released reliability figures or repair estimates.

I think that's because mainstream production hybrids haven't been around much earlier than 2001 or so. You should start to see this information shortly as the cars age and their repair histories are recorded.

Quoting Swisskloten (Thread starter):
Does having a hybrid double the risk of a breakdown? Can one engine function without the other and for how long?

Supposedly the Honda Civic Hybrid can function even if the electric motor is dead, such as from a dead main battery, but I have never had this happen to me so I have no firsthand knowledge of what happens. There is a backup battery to allow the starter mechanism to get the gasoline engine running and then you should be able to take it into the dealership. If the main battery were non-functioning, then you would probably experience significantly worse mileage while driving, but I don't see why it would prevent you from getting around so long as you kept gasoline/petrol in the tank.

Quoting Swisskloten (Thread starter):
If I had a hybrid for city driving, I would be comfortable. If I was to drive across several states, I would be nervous about one of the engines having problems.

I have driven my hybrid greater than 30,000 miles (48,000 kilometers) over the last 2.5 years with no problems thus far. The only things that have been replaced are the oil at each 10,000-mile mark (16,000 kilometers) and one set of windshield wiper blades. This has cost me a total of roughly US $60 (47.72 EUR).

Quoting Swisskloten (Thread starter):
What would you pick and why?

I picked the Honda Civic Hybrid because it looked like an excellent car to get me to work each day and would use less fuel and pollute a whole lot less than my Honda Accord that preceded it.

Quoting Aa757first (Reply 1):
I, too, have never heard of FlexFuel. Is it new?

I'm assuming this is a generic term used to describe diesel engines that can handle alternative fuels such as the new bio-diesel?
Open Season on Consumer Protections is Just Around the Corner...
 
Delta767300ER
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RE: Do You Prefer Flexfuel, Diesel Or Hybrid?

Mon Sep 05, 2005 11:32 am

Performance wise how would a hybrid me on a car like my 98 Camaro Z28? I get average fuel milage but I would worry I would sacrifice a lot of power of they made a hybrid V8.

-Delta767300ER
 
L-188
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RE: Do You Prefer Flexfuel, Diesel Or Hybrid?

Mon Sep 05, 2005 11:35 am

Since my only experience with a multi-fuel engine is the plant that powers the US Army's M35A2 21/2 ton truck, I think I have a unfairly dim view of multifuel engines.

Basicly it boils down to the fact that in order to get the fexibility to use more then one type of fuel you have to give up something, emissions, milage, reliablity....something.
OBAMA-WORST PRESIDENT EVER....Even SKOORB would be better.
 
FriendlySkies
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RE: Do You Prefer Flexfuel, Diesel Or Hybrid?

Mon Sep 05, 2005 11:43 am

I prefer hydrogen, but if I had to take one of your choices, I'd go with an FFV.
 
aa757first
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Joined: Sun Aug 03, 2003 11:40 am

RE: Do You Prefer Flexfuel, Diesel Or Hybrid?

Mon Sep 05, 2005 11:57 am

Quoting SATX (Reply 4):
I'm assuming this is a generic term used to describe diesel engines that can handle alternative fuels such as the new bio-diesel?

Oh, okay, thanks.

AAndrew
 
drewfly
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RE: Do You Prefer Flexfuel, Diesel Or Hybrid?

Mon Sep 05, 2005 11:58 am

Quoting SATX (Reply 4):
I'm assuming this is a generic term used to describe diesel engines that can handle alternative fuels such as the new bio-diesel?

Flex Fuel means that the engine can accept up to a certain amount of gas/ethanol mix. It varies depending on the model.

IMO biodiesel is one of the best solutions out there. All the advantages of traditional diesel fuel, in addition to immensely cleaner emissions. The modifications are minimal and well worth it, we could even put some farmers back to work. 100% home grown energy, amazing. Some more facts here www.biodiesel.org
A-10 Thunderbolt II, ugly as hell, efficient as hell, would you like to meet my boomstick?
 
beefer
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RE: Do You Prefer Flexfuel, Diesel Or Hybrid?

Mon Sep 05, 2005 1:08 pm

A FlexFuel vehicle has NOTHING to do with Diesel.

As stated by another poster, FlexFuel vehicles have the ability to run on anything from straight unleaded gasoline up to a 85% mix of ethanol and gasoline.

This fuel is called E-85 which contains 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. FlexFuel vehicles are equipped with minor modifications to the engine which senses the oxygen content of the fuel as it reaches the engine and adjusts the engine automatically. That really is the beautiful thing about FlexFuel vehicles, you can put any blend of gasoline in it and it will run great.

All of the major manufacturers produce some models which are FlexFuel. Many of the people reading this post probably have FlexFuel vehicles and don't even realize it. Your owners manual will state that your vehicle is FlexFuel plus there should be a sticker on the inside of your fuel door.

The biggest problem with E-85 right now is that it is not widely available throughout the United States at this moment. Fueling locations are generally confined to the Central United States where most of the ethanol is produced. Fueling locations are being added daily throughout the country, so E-85 may be coming to you in the near future.

I am a Farmer in Minnesota and I am also an investor in a local ethanol plant, so this topic is of great interest to me and I like to feel I have some knowledge of the subject.

Please ask if you have any further questions, but this website www.e85fuel.com should answer pretty much all of your questions. The website also has lists of the vehicles which are FlexFuel compatible along with listings of the E-85 fueling locations around the country.

.........................

On the subject of Biodiesel, this is also another great product and it really has nothing but a bright future ahead of it. We have been using anything from a 2-5 % blend of Biodiesel in our equipment for several years now and have had no problems. I believe most engines can handle up to a 20% blend of Biodiesel without any modifications.

Availability and cost is the biggest drawback of Biodiesel at the moment. These will improve as more plants are constructed and come on line.
 
Msl747
Posts: 349
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RE: Do You Prefer Flexfuel, Diesel Or Hybrid?

Mon Sep 05, 2005 1:13 pm

My 2000 Ford Ranger is an FFV. All 1999-2002 Ford 3.0L Ranger pickups are FFVs, it wasn't an option or anything. Here are a few websites:

http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/flextech.shtml

http://www.agriculture.state.ia.us/e85vehicles.html


-Msl747 spin 
Commercial Pilot Certificate: Single and Multi-Engine Land; Instrument Airplane
 
ANCFlyer
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RE: Do You Prefer Flexfuel, Diesel Or Hybrid?

Mon Sep 05, 2005 1:15 pm

Diesel . . .







BAFDT . . . .
FOR THOSE THAT FOUGHT FOR IT, FREEDOM HAS A FLAVOR THE PROTECTED WILL NEVER KNOW OR UNDERSTAND
 
aa777jr
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RE: Do You Prefer Flexfuel, Diesel Or Hybrid?

Mon Sep 05, 2005 1:23 pm

Hydrogen; but Ford, GM, and Chrystler won't let us buy those for another 15 years.
A liberal is a man who is right most of the time, but he's right too soon.
 
satx
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RE: Do You Prefer Flexfuel, Diesel Or Hybrid?

Mon Sep 05, 2005 1:34 pm

Thanks for the excellent and informative post, Beefer.  checkmark 

Quoting Aa777jr (Reply 13):
Hydrogen; but Ford, GM, and Chrystler won't let us buy those for another 15 years.

I have a few honest questions for you...

Where will the Hydrogen come from and where will I get it?

What will the maximum driving range per fill-up be?

How will this technology compete with 4th or 5th generation plug-in hybrids that could be mainstream and topping 100 MPG by then?

If my motivation is to produce less pollution, wont I simply be moving the pollution from my tailpipe to the hydrogen extraction facility's fossil-fuel power plant?
Open Season on Consumer Protections is Just Around the Corner...
 
DfwRevolution
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RE: Do You Prefer Flexfuel, Diesel Or Hybrid?

Mon Sep 05, 2005 1:43 pm

>> Also, nobody has ever released reliability figures or repair estimates.

I sure havn't. The Toyota Prius has been given one of the highest reliability ratings out there, and it has enough model years under its belt to call it a safe-buy.

>> Finally, there's the hybrid. I like the concept: use the gasoline to get the car moving and the electric engine kicks in. T

Other way around... electric motor gets the car moving, gasoline kicks in for cruising and hard acceleration.

>> . Does having a hybrid double the risk of a breakdown? Can one engine function without the other and for how long?

Well really... all cars have a secondary electric motor that must function for the car to opperate. Think about your starter motor...

>> If I had a hybrid for city driving, I would be comfortable. If I was to drive across several states, I would be nervous about one of the engines having problems.

Then it would be quite a bit of unfounded fear. These aren't golf carts, they are fully functional automobiles that have fully demonstrated their viability.
 
LAS757300
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Joined: Fri May 14, 2004 2:04 pm

RE: Do You Prefer Flexfuel, Diesel Or Hybrid?

Mon Sep 05, 2005 2:07 pm

Any English language thesaurus worth it's salt would list ethanol as an alternate meaning for boondoggle. Ethanol coming out of the pump actually contains less energy than was used to get it from the field to the pump. Also, it cannot be transported through pipes and must be transported long distances by truck. Anyone complaining about gas prices should put part of the blame on ethanol. In addition to being a net energy loser, it complicates the refining process. Unfortunately ethanol is here to stay -- the farm lobby in this country, like in every other rich nation, is extremely powerful.
KMSP
 
beefer
Posts: 350
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RE: Do You Prefer Flexfuel, Diesel Or Hybrid?

Mon Sep 05, 2005 2:44 pm

Quoting LAS757300 (Reply 16):
Any English language thesaurus worth it's salt would list ethanol as an alternate meaning for boondoggle. Ethanol coming out of the pump actually contains less energy than was used to get it from the field to the pump. Also, it cannot be transported through pipes and must be transported long distances by truck. Anyone complaining about gas prices should put part of the blame on ethanol. In addition to being a net energy loser, it complicates the refining process. Unfortunately ethanol is here to stay -- the farm lobby in this country, like in every other rich nation, is extremely powerful.

You are using very outdated information to make this assesment. Enough advances have been made to the ethanol process in the past ten years that it is a definite net gain in energy.

The most current studies I am aware of show that for every BTU used to produce ethanol, you get 1.10 BTU back. If you also add in the by-products which are left from the ethanol process, you can increase the return to 1.67 BTU for every BTU used. These numbers will only increase as plants become more efficient each year. Also, new technologies are being developed which could almost double the amount ethanol which would be produced from each bushel of corn. In case anyone is curious, the current average in the industry is that you distill about 2.8 gallons of ethanol for every bushel of corn consumed.

Actually, very little ethanol is transported by truck. A vast majority of ethanol is transported by rail and some is moved by barge or ships. Generally, ethanol is only transported by truck if the refinery is within a couple hundred miles of the plant. Plants are being built in all corners of the United States as an effort to reduce the need for transportation to refineries.

You have to remember that not all ethanol is made from corn. Basically, any biological substance which contains sugars, or can be converted to sugars such as starch or cellulose can be used to make ethanol. An ethanol plant does not have to be in the Midwest to have a source, just about any location in the U.S could support an ethanol plant.

You think the Farm lobby is powerful???? Compared to Big Oil, the Farm Lobby is a small part of the energy picture.
 
LAS757300
Posts: 254
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RE: Do You Prefer Flexfuel, Diesel Or Hybrid?

Mon Sep 05, 2005 3:04 pm

according to one truly independent study on ethanol, not bogus corn industry b.s., one gallon of ethanol contains 76,000 btu's and costs about 98,000 btu's to produce. Corn and other crops require diesel equipment and petroleum based fertilzers, all of which makes ethanol a net energy loser. A gallon of gasoline, on the other hand, contains 116,000 btu's. Getting a gallon of gasoline from the oilfield to the pump costs only 22,000 btu's.

Here's what the Oregon department of energy has to say on the subject:

Quote:
Because a gallon of ethanol contains less energy than a gallon of gasoline, the production cost of ethanol must be multiplied by a factor of 1.5 to make an energy-cost comparison with gasoline. This means that if ethanol costs $1.10 per gallon to produce, then the effective cost per gallon to equal the energy contained in a gallon of gasoline is $1.65. In contrast, the current wholesale price of gasoline is about 90 cents per gallon.

http://www.energy.state.or.us/biomass/Cost.htm
KMSP
 
beefer
Posts: 350
Joined: Wed Jun 11, 2003 1:37 pm

RE: Do You Prefer Flexfuel, Diesel Or Hybrid?

Mon Sep 05, 2005 9:16 pm

The "independent study" you are referring to was produced by two researchers who are using horribly outdated figures which even the most pessimistic watchers of the fuel industry find suspect.

All studies that I go by are taking into account the fact that fuel and petroleum based fertilizers are used in the production of corn, and these studies still show that ethanol is a net energy gain producer.

The study you are referring to underestimates the amount ethanol produced from the distillation process. This study also greatly overestimates the costs of producing a bushel corn. Their costs are much higher than the numbers put out by the United States Department of Agriculture which is considered to be the most accurate figures on production agriculture which are available. As a Farmer, I can tell you that if it actually did cost an American Farmer what these guys say it does to produce a bushel of corn, there would not be a single Farmer left in this country. That is how outlandish their figures are.

The study you are referring to does not give credits for the by-products which are produced by the ethanol process, which is used as feedstock for animals. In essence, they are not giving any credit for about 1/3 of the ethanol plant output.

However, what really places this study out into left field is that they are also trying to figure in the BTU's used to produce the farm equipment, ethanol plant equipment, and even the labor of the Farmer. It seems that they are forgetting that the equipment used in farming is used for other purposes than just producing corn for ethanol. And, how can you place a BTU figure on what the farmer uses to survive on, including the clothes on his back???? If somebody wants to use figures like that, than the 22,000 BTU number you quoted for a gallon of gasoline is going to be much, much higher.

You also stated in your earlier post that ethanol has been one of the reasons for the increase in gas prices. Actually, the increased costs you are referring to are due to the federal requirement for a oxygenate additive to fuel to reduce auto emissions. It is more complicated to add an oxygenate to the fuel supply and this was previous accomplished with the addition of MTBE. It has been found that MTBE is truly bad stuff and is currently outlawed in something like 16 states. Ethanol is the only viable replacement for MTBE at this time.

By the way, the reason I placed "independent study" in parenthesis at the beginning of this post is because one of the researchers is a consultant and expert witness for several oil companies and also heads a consortium which is largely funded by oil companies. I suppose in essence, you could say that the study you are referring to is bogus big oil research.

It is obvious that each side of this issue has some valid points and that the real truth lies somewhere in between. I still believe that it can be proven however, that if the proper numbers and estimates are plugged in, ethanol is still going to be a net energy gain which not only provides cleaner emissions for automobiles but also helps to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and extends the dwindling supplies of oil.
 
whitehatter
Posts: 5180
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RE: Do You Prefer Flexfuel, Diesel Or Hybrid?

Mon Sep 05, 2005 10:12 pm

Out of choice I'd go for either LPG or City Diesel. Currently selling my body parts for Ultra Low Sulphur Petrol.

Next time round the LPG route looks interesting. As an aside there was a guy on EBay last week selling an Overfinch Range Rover, with the 5.7 Chevy conversion and an LPG system fitted which he costed as running at about the same cost per mile as a car doing 28mpg. Oh the temptation...
Lead me not into temptation, I can find my own way there...

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