Is Diesel Electric More Efficient?

A CEE, ISYE, and the Institute’s School of Public Policy collaborated to generate some useful data for anyone deciding between electric and diesel-powered trucks.

The advantages of electric vehicles over diesel trucks, according to researchers, are primarily dependent on how the trucks will be utilized – the frequency of pauses and average speeds – as well as the source of electricity for charging batteries.

Electric trucks clearly beat diesel trucks in city driving with frequent stops.

“On average, electric urban delivery trucks consume 30% less total energy and produce 40% less greenhouse gases than diesel trucks in the United States, for about the same total cost, taking into account both the purchase price and the operating costs,” said Dong-Yeon Lee, a CEE PhD student. “Costs and emissions, on the other hand, are dependent on how and where the truck will be operated.”

Electric trucks are around 50% more efficient to operate than diesel trucks on urban delivery routes with a lot of stop-and-start driving. This cuts greenhouse gas emissions by nearly half and makes them at least 20% less expensive than diesel-fueled trucks. The improved efficiency of the electric motor at low speeds and the regenerative braking systems in electric vehicles help give superior efficiency in situations when they are frequently stopped and started.

Electric delivery trucks, on the other hand, lose their edge on suburban routes with fewer stops and a higher average speed. Electric vehicles have a limited daily range and top speed, and their regenerative braking advantage is lost if they stop frequently. Under certain circumstances, electric vehicles can be more expensive than diesel vehicles, particularly if high-cost charging systems are employed, if the battery needs to be replaced frequently, or if they are primarily used for highway driving.

According to the researchers, the relative benefits of electric vehicles are determined by vehicle efficiency related to drive cycle, diesel fuel price, travel demand, electric drive battery replacement and price, electricity generation and transmission efficiency, electric truck recharging infrastructure, and purchase price. The findings of the study were published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology on July 16.

When calculating greenhouse gas emissions, the researchers took into account the sources of electricity utilized to charge the electric vehicles. Hydroelectric power, which is more common in the northwest United States, significantly reduced total greenhouse gas emissions when electric vehicles were used there. Emissions were greater in vehicles operated in states that rely largely on coal for electricity generation.

Electric trucks reduced greenhouse gas emissions in every state in the United States, with metropolitan routes offering the most benefit. Electric trucks reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a third or more in half of the states as compared to diesel trucks.

The study’s wild cards included future diesel fuel and power costs, as well as the cost of replacing an electric truck’s battery pack if it lives shorter than predicted. For the motor cycles evaluated, lithium-ion battery packs are expected to last the entire lifetime of the vehicles, up to 150,000 miles.

“It’s impossible to anticipate the long-term price of electric trucks because of technological developments,” said Valerie Thomas, one of the study’s co-authors and an ISYE professor. “Battery price decreases in the future could have a significant impact on electric trucks’ cost-competitiveness, whereas only diesel fuel prices could have a similar impact on diesel vehicles’ future cost-competitiveness.”

The researchers chose to explore electric trucks in urban delivery applications because these vehicles often travel the same routes every day, spend a large amount of time in stop-and-start operation, and return to a central area where they can be charged at the end of the day.

A 2011 Smith Newton electric truck with a 120 kW electric motor was pitted against a 2006 Freightliner truck with a Cummins diesel engine. The gross vehicle weight, curb weight, and payload of the two trucks were nearly identical. Between 2006 and 2011, increases in diesel efficiency were taken into account in the comparison.

Under certain situations, the researchers were shocked to discover that the electric truck had a cost advantage over the diesel vehicle. They had expected expenses to always be greater for the electric vehicle, especially since the electric truck analyzed had a higher purchase price than the diesel truck – and other models of electric trucks would have even larger cost differences.

“There are many scenarios where the entire cost of operating an electric vehicle is less than operating a diesel vehicle over the life of the truck,” Marilyn Brown, another co-author and professor in the School of Public Policy, explained. “The electric vehicle, we expected, would deliver environmental benefits, but at a cost. We discovered that electric delivery vehicles save money and are good for the environment, especially in urban areas and those with minimal greenhouse gas emissions from energy.”

Depending on what happens with vehicle and gasoline costs, the advantages of electric vehicles may become even more compelling.

“The relative benefit of electric vehicles over diesel trucks may be far greater than one may assume,” Lee added. “If the electric vehicle is used in the proper driving or duty cycle, fleet operators can get a better return on investment while conserving energy and lowering greenhouse gas emissions.”

Why is diesel-electric efficient?

Finally, one of the reasons that hybridizing gasoline engines is successful is that they are inherently less fuel efficient.

Gasoline engines only convert 25 to 30% of a fuel’s energy into forward motion at the wheels; the rest is squandered as heat and noise.

A diesel, on the other hand, transforms 30 to 35 percent of the energy in the fuel into forward motion, resulting in higher fuel efficiency ratings.

In the end, say diesel engineers, a diesel hybrid would add a very expensive electrified system to an already-expensive engine… but the overall rise would be less impressive than in gasoline automobiles.

But, you say, three diesel hybrids are already on the market in Europe!

That is correct. Only one of them, the Mercedes-Benz E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid, combines a diesel engine and an electric motor into a single powertrain.

The Peugeot 3008 HYbrid4 and the Citroen DS5 Hybrid, on the other hand, are “through-the-road hybrids,” meaning they have a single motor on both ends.

They can use the electric motor alone for lower-speed excursions, the diesel engine for higher-speed travels, or the two together for the best performance driving by distributing power to all four wheels.

Mercedes-Benz, which has sold diesels in the United States for decades, has no intentions to sell the world’s only diesel-electric hybrid powertrain in the United States.

Meanwhile, we’d like to hear from engine and powertrain engineers on these topics.

Are diesel cars more efficient than electric cars?

While diesel automobiles are less expensive to purchase up front and have more torque, electric cars have lower operating expenses, require less maintenance, and have greater fuel economy. With a growing network of charging stations, an electric automobile is becoming a more cost-effective buy when compared to traditional combustion-engined transportation.

Pros and Cons of diesel cars

More efficient (by roughly 25% compared to gasoline), resulting in lower refueling costs.

Engines that can run on a variety of fuel types (e.g. biodiesels in future)

Less environmentally favorable, as it emits toxic nitrous oxides, hydrocarbons, and particles into the atmosphere.

Pros and Cons of electric cars

Maintenance expenditures are reduced (especially in comparison to internal combustion engines)

Are you weighing the benefits and drawbacks of various fuel types? Check out our comparison of gasoline, hybrid, and electric automobiles.

Are electric cars cheaper than diesel?

Although diesel cars are less expensive to acquire or lease, EVs are more economical and cost-effective in the long term due to lower operating costs. Because they have fewer moving components, they’re also easier and less expensive to repair.

Getting the car

Because most diesel automobiles are less expensive to buy than electric cars, many people believe they are a better investment. EVs, on the other hand, are less expensive to operate, as we’ll see in a moment.

The batteries used in electric cars are expensive, which accounts for the price increase. Furthermore, EVs frequently include more modern technology, which raises production costs and, as a result, pricing.

Running costs

As previously said, one of the major benefits of switching electric is decreased operating costs; EVs are less expensive to operate due to lower electricity prices.

Diesel is, in fact, one of the most expensive fuels available. This is due to the fact that diesel is taxed at a higher rate because it is a “dirtier” fuel.

However, because energy is widely available, charging is one of the most cost-effective methods of refueling. A conventional 200-miler plug-in costs around £8.00 to charge at home, and even less at a rapid charger, where you can top-up 100 miles of battery for around £6.50. Even better, some chargers, such as those used at work, are free to use.

A 50-litre diesel tank costs around £60.00 to fill, whereas an EV may offer you the same mileage for just £25.00.

All of this means that owning and operating an EV is substantially less expensive than owning and operating a diesel vehicle. And, with road tax and numerous government benefits, you stand to save a lot more as an electric vehicle owner.

The table below compares diesel and electric vehicles from the same prominent brands and demonstrates the difference in operating expenses.

What are the disadvantages of diesel-electric traction?

In essence, a diesel-electric locomotive is an electric locomotive with its own power plant. As a result, it provides some of the benefits of electrification to a railroad without the capital expenditure of the power distribution and feed-wire system. The diesel-electric locomotive, on the other hand, has a significant disadvantage over an electric locomotive: its output is virtually restricted to that of its diesel engine, hence it can produce fewer horsepower per locomotive unit. Diesel is less suitable than electric for high-speed passenger services and very rapid freight operations because significant horsepower is necessary for high-speed operation.

Why is electric better than diesel?

  • Electric automobiles do not have to pay congestion fees or road tolls, and the driving experience is much better (quieter).
  • They are a fantastic ecological alternative to gasoline and diesel that has a high residual value.
  • Given the considerable government grants and incentives available to encourage vehicle owners to switch to electric vehicles, fleet operators can save a lot of money by going electric.
  • Electric cars outperform diesel automobiles on urban routes, which means they consume less energy, emit less greenhouse gases, and are less expensive. In some cases, the total cost of operating an electric vehicle is lower than that of a diesel vehicle.

Electric automobiles are costly to purchase and take a long time to recharge (if you can find a recharging point nearby). Their range is also restricted, and since that electricity is typically provided by fossil fuel power plants, they are not a particularly environmentally friendly option. Aside than that, there aren’t many models to pick from at the moment.

Running a fleet of cars requires a fleet operator to make a number of challenging decisions, one of which is which type of gasoline to use. It all relies on the type of business you run, your long-term vision for the company, and the types of trips your drivers take.

Can you replace electric with diesel?

A green shift in the transportation sector, which accounts for nearly a quarter of worldwide carbon dioxide emissions, is viewed as critical to meeting global climate targets.

Batteries are excessively heavy for long-haul freight, hence battery-powered trucks have been discarded as too expensive to replace diesel trucks in many capacities.

Do diesel or petrol engines last longer?

When deciding which car to buy, you may have to make a decision about which engine to get. So, is it going to be diesel or gasoline? Diesel engines are well-known for their superior fuel economy, and some even claim they are better for the environment. So, which is the better option? We’ll look at the advantages and disadvantages of each in this article. We’ll also address the crucial subject of whether diesel or gasoline engines endure longer.

Pros of diesel engines

  • If you drive lengthy distances, they are more cost-effective. It’s not a given that diesel engines are more cost-effective. In fact, if you frequently travel short distances, such as to the store or to pick up the kids from school. Then a gasoline engine is almost probably the more cost-effective choice. However, if you regularly spend hours commuting up and down the highway. A diesel engine, on the other hand, would provide you greater mileage for your money. A typical diesel engine generates about 30% higher fuel economy than a gasoline engine.
  • Diesel engines are regarded to be better for the environment because they have a higher fuel economy. Although the emissions they emit are dirtier than those produced by a gasoline engine, they can be regarded more environmentally beneficial because they provide more miles for the same amount of pollution.

They are more effective. A strong fuel injection system is used in diesel engines. This implies they’re more responsive and have more torque than their gasoline-powered equivalents.

Cons of diesel engines

  • Cars that run on diesel are more expensive. If you choose to buy a diesel car, you may expect to pay an extra £2000 on top of the vehicle’s advertised price. This may render any fuel economy benefits obsolete, so keep this in mind when making your decision.
  • Diesel fuel is more expensive than gasoline. While you get more miles for your money, the cost of fuel is higher, which causes some consumers to doubt the cost savings.
  • Not all automobile models are available in diesel, so if you have your heart set on a specific make and model, you may be out of luck if it isn’t available.

For a long time, transportation experts have predicted that diesel automobiles will be phased out in the United Kingdom. This is because the government is under pressure to prioritize air pollution reduction. The government wants to get rid of diesel cars from Britain’s roads by 2030. They have announced a scrappage program for diesel vehicle owners, which would begin in 2017. In this blog, we discuss whether or not diesel cars will be phased out.

Pros of petrol engines

  • At the pump, gasoline is less expensive than diesel. Not only that, but petrol automobiles have always been less expensive to purchase in general.
  • Some people prefer a petrol car’s quiet and refined driving experience over a diesel car’s.

Are diesel cars really more environmentally friendly?

Until January 2017, the government had led the way in promoting the use of diesel automobiles, claiming that they are 20% more efficient and hence better for the environment. Diesel engines emit twice as much hazardous nitrogen dioxide as their gasoline counterparts, which had not been considered. The government reversed its position in January, claiming that diesel engines are really worse for the environment and that measures will be implemented to restrict the number of diesel automobiles on British roads. Outdoor air pollution is responsible for 40% of deaths from stroke and heart disease, and nitrogen dioxide adds to certain serious health difficulties. According to Defra, nitrogen dioxide pollution causes 4% more deaths in the UK, or roughly 23,500 additional deaths per year.

So, do diesel or petrol engines last longer?

Diesel engines are more durable than gasoline engines. Diesel is a light oil that lubricates engine parts when burned and utilized as fuel by a vehicle. The engine’s life is extended as a result of this. Petrol is a detergent that removes oil from the engine’s components, causing it to wear out faster.

A petrol engine may typically go between 250,000 and 300,000 kilometers before it begins to burn oil and wear out. A diesel engine may easily travel 500,000 kilometers and still have room to go. Most mechanics estimate that if your diesel engine is properly maintained, it will last for 30 years on the road. (Image courtesy of The Globe and Mail)

Diesel engines endure longer, but they are more expensive to maintain. This is due in part to the complicated fuel pump, which is costly to fix or replace. A diesel car’s engine filters must be changed on a regular basis, and they can cost up to £100 apiece.

Will a diesel car be cheaper to lease?

As a result of the diesel scrappage scheme, a direct correlation between engine type and lease pricing is anticipated to become increasingly widespread. The residual value of the vehicle determines the lease price. The estimated value of the car at the end of the lease contract is known as the residual value. Until recently, diesel cars had a higher residual value and were thus less expensive to lease. Because the government is attempting to diminish the popularity of diesel vehicles, it is expected that the residual value of a diesel vehicle will be lower, resulting in a larger lease payment.

Why are diesel cars more expensive to insure?

Diesel cars are typically 10-15% more expensive than their gasoline counterparts. Diesel vehicles have higher average repair costs, which affects insurance premiums. Furthermore, insurers are required to include overall replacement costs in your premiums. As diesel automobiles are more expensive to purchase, this will increase your insurance rate in the event of theft.

Because insurance must consider in the greater overall replacement cost of a diesel if it is stolen, diesel automobiles have higher average accident repair costs overall.

In Conclusion

Choosing between a gasoline or diesel car used to be a considerably more difficult decision. However, new government laws and a forecast drop in the popularity of diesel cars over the next 25 years are causing concern. It might be a simpler choice. If you drive a lot of miles, a diesel car will still be the most cost-effective option. If you aren’t concerned about the car’s long-term resale worth. Alternatively, if you want to lease an automobile. Then diesel may still be a more cost-effective option than gasoline for you. However, if you don’t drive a lot of miles or are concerned about your car’s environmental impact, a petrol, hybrid, or electric vehicle will be the better option.

A New Era

Although diesel locomotives were originally introduced to American railroads in the 1920s, they were initially limited to switch engines and then passenger train locomotives. The Electro Motive Division of General Motors (EMD) didn’t demonstrate that diesel locomotives could practically replace steam locomotives in heavy-duty service until 1940. The model “FT,” a pioneer freight diesel, traversed the nation’s railroads and made history. It was fashioned with an automobile-like snout and windshield, just like its sister passenger locomotives of the time, a design that lasted until the late 1950s.

The locomotives are actually powered by electricity, despite the fact that they are frequently referred to as “diesels.” The locomotive’s diesel engine powers an alternator, which generates electricity to power electric motors located on the axles. The internal combustion engine outperformed the steam locomotive in terms of efficiency, allowing for significant cost reductions in maintenance and the elimination of several facilities. Extra units may be linked and controlled by a single engineer from the lead unit, resulting in extremely powerful combinations.

Due to material shortages created by World War II, several railways, including Union Pacific, were unable to take advantage of the new technology quickly. Union Pacific’s fleet of contemporary steam locomotives, as well as Wyoming’s abundant on-line coal supplies, contributed to the company’s late entry into the dieselization race. Railroads, on the other hand, began sweeping the rails clear of the classic steamers after the war. Union Pacific began its sweep in the late 1940s on a line that ran across the southern deserts, where steam engines struggled to find water.

The steam era was finished by the end of the 1950s, and increasingly powerful diesels ruled the rails.

Is diesel cheaper than electric?

The cost of operating an electric vehicle varies based on the model, make, and characteristics of the car, just like the cost of operating a regular gasoline engine vehicle. This implies that there is a choice for everyone, even purchasing an EV.

The good news is that electric vehicles are anticipated to be less expensive to own over time. Electricity is significantly less expensive than gasoline or diesel, and electric vehicles require far less maintenance than internal combustion engines (ICE).

Furthermore, numerous incentives are available, such as government grants or schemes, Vehicle Excise Duty discounts or exemptions, and Fuel Duty exemptions. Learn more about tax incentives and what to look for when purchasing an electric vehicle. You may also be eligible for a reduction or the opportunity to drive in the Congestion Charge zone for free.