Decoding diesel’s pluses

Diesel seems to be gaining an increasing number of advocates for use in private cars. «Automotive diesel has a decisive effect on reducing emissions, achieving fuel savings and improving vehicle maintenance,» Nikos Moraitopoulos, general manager of Robert Bosch, a subsidiary of the German multinational, told a press briefing yesterday. Other speakers argued that diesel engines are much «misunderstood,» mainly because most vehicles fitted with them were old (their average age is now more than 12 years) and carried negative connotations because of extensive adulteration. They noted that Greek refineries produce fuels according to European specifications but the adulteration starts at the state of distribution and supply; the most usual methods are with water or paraffin but automotive diesel is also often discolored heating or bunker fuels (which are subject to lower taxes). The effects of such malpractice are disastrous for vehicles. Pumps, fuel injection systems and engines are seriously damaged and emissions rise dramatically. According to Bosch’s officials, the use of automotive diesel can reduce fuel consumption by up to 32 percent. Equally important is the reduction in emissions: Nitrogen oxides can be reduced by up to 80 percent and carbon dioxide by up to 35 percent, while special filters also reduce the emission of particles. Spending on maintenance and spare parts is lower because of the high reliability of diesel engines. Elsewhere in Europe, where the use of diesel in private cars began in 1989, demand has risen steadily and is now used in about half of all vehicles. Austria has a lead with 70 percent, followed by Belgium and France with 65 percent. The UK has 25 percent.