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At a dinner at the recent LA Auto Show, GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz talks about diesels in America, their advantages, drawbacks and future
(EcoGeek Intro plays)

Hank: Hi, this is Hank Green from EcoGeek.org, coming to you with a little bit of footage that I found from the LA Auto Show that I haven't used yet.  There was a blogger-slash-new media dinner with Bob Lutz, the vice chairman of General Motors, he's kinda like the guy at GM that is in charge of cars.  I have a couple of clips.  The first one I'm going to show you is Bob talking about the future of diesel technology in the eyes of General Motors, which has some interesting stuff, I put some subtitles at the bottom, so that you can see sort of uh, some commentary.  Ladies and gentlemen, Bob Lutz.  

Bob Lutz: Earlier, (?~0:36) will give you plenty of time--dinner will give you plenty of time to think of intelligent questions.  I actually prefer the dumb ones.  

Questioner: You've been on the record about the--the (?~0:47) that--you've obviously got a new one coming out for--for your SUVs and whatnot, but for the passenger car side, the 50-state legal diesel, you've said that, you know, there's some barriers there that really cost-wise prohibit that.  

Bob: I was asked the same question in London last night, which seems like about a week from right now (laughs), um (?~1:06) "Why don't you Americans have diesels?" and I said, well, um, are--are you guys dealing with Euro 5, and they said "Oh, yes, Euro 5 most (?~1:18)".  Now we have US Bin 5, which goes into effect in '09, which is right around the corner.  US Bin 5 is six times tougher to meet than Euro 5.  First of all, you're going to have to use urea, uh, which involves a whole 'nother fluid that you have to put in the car, um, no, no.  No, you still have to use rest stops, um, you cannot replenish the urea the way you're thinking.  

All of this uh, somewhat deteriorates the fuel economy game that you get from the diesel, because you're diverting some of the fuel to this post-combustion process, uh, and the other problem is it adds about 2000, according--uh, you know, present estimates, where we look at all the plumbing and the hardware, right now, it looks like about 25 to 3--2500 to 3000 dollars of added cost above what was already about a 2000 to 2500 dollar premium for a diesel (?~2:31) gasoline.  It's going to be very difficult to justify the fuel savings from diesel engines, which are no longer going to be 25-30%, they're gonna be more like 18 or 20%, meanwhile the gasoline engine, um, we're getting to what Mercedes-Benz calls (?~2:54), which means a combination of the Diesel cycle and the auto cycle, or we call it Homogeneous Charged Compression Ignition, where you get a gasoline engine to operate without a spark plug at very, very high compression ratios, and you're basically making a gasoline engine operate on a diesel cycle, which will give us about another 8-10% on a gasoline engine.  And at that point, they almost converge, um, and the gasoline homogeneous charged compression ignition engine is going to be far easier to emissionize than a diesel, so uh, that is our--our view of the world right now.  

Having said that, uh, we're making a massive commitment to diesels just in case it turns out to be the--the technology of choice.  Right now, um, you have to develop everything, you gotta work on fuel cells, you gotta work on advanced gas, you gotta work on electric, you gotta work on hybrids, uh, you've gotta work on advanced diesels, because nobody knows where it's going to end, and our guess is it's going to be a blend of all of those technologies.  

I personally love the new generation of diesel engines, because they've got a bottom (?~4:16).  Everything Americans know about the old style diesels with the clattering noise and uh, the poor performance is exactly the opposite now.  There's a lot of attraction to diesels, but as I say from an emissions standpoint, a lot of problems.

Hank: And that's what Bob has to say about diesels, and his opinion is pretty important because he's the guy who decides whether to make these cars or not.  Now, my opinion, of course, differs slightly.  It is, however, true, that the United States treats particulate emissions and NOX emissions much more strictly than Europe does.  This is mostly because of the way that we have built our cities, and thus, we have bigger problems with smog than Europe does.  While Europe's standards regulate carbon heavily because they care about global warming, we don't regulate carbon heavily, so our regulations make it a lot easier to build gasoline cars than diesel cars.  And that's kinda where we're at right now.  That doesn't mean that I don't think they should be investing the technology, and I'm glad they are.  I wish there were more, and really, I wish that I could buy a diesel-electric hybrid now please.  Bob later talked about GM's electric car, the Chevrolet Volt.  That video is the next in this series.

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