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VW EA 288 TDI Clean Diesel

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The all new EA 288 common rail turbo diesel from VW is a 2L torque monster that meets the toughest next generation 3.0mg/mi particulate emissions targets set by the US and EU governments. This is the soul of more 40+ MPG vehicles from VW where going farther with less fuel and lower emissions is the cool "Think Blue" technology.

The TDI vehicles from VW are about to get a state of the art low emission energy efficient oil burning turbocharged internal combustion TDI engine that will redefine the vigor and enthusiasm for the best diesel engine technology available in the world. In the VW Golf, Jetta, Passat and Beetle, this new 2.0L TDI should yield real world average fuel economies between 30 and 45 MPG. Driven in an energy efficient fashion people can achieve much better than the EPA rated fuel economy figures in a VW TDI; often north of 50 MPG for longer highway stretches.  

VW poured a lot of effort into the development of this new diesel engine as part of an ongoing series of applied technologies that lie within the scope of VW's Think Blue philosophy. Pulling on more than 40 years of TDI refinement and a modern clean technology philosophy, the latest engine leverages clean technologies to deliver TDI power in an environmentally responsible way. With 45% Fewer Emissions & 8% Better Fuel Economy, the new TDI engine is better in many ways than the older clean diesels it replaces. They were able to achieve faster warm-up, cleaner emissions, and more efficient operation by optimizing many of the engines sub-systems.

Head Integrated Exhaust Manifold 
Independent Block and Head Coolant Systems
Active Grill Shutters to Reduce Draft Cooling
SCR Urea Injection for NOx Reduction 

Twin EGR system with Independent Cooling System
Particulate Filter to Scrub Exhaust 

Better Piston Rings & Smoother Bearings
Dual Pressure Oil Pump with Volumetric Control
Water Pump Deactivation
Twin counter-rotating Balancing Shafts

High Speed High Efficiency 

Getting 50+ miles per gallon at 70MPH, the TDI vehicles from VW can do something that other fuel efficient vehicles like the Toyota Prius cannot. The TDI equipped vehicles in their DSG and 6sp Manual configurations can mob along at autobahn speeds while returning superb fuel efficiency and ultra-low emissions.

People who regularly log in lots of high speed highway miles will appreciate the TDI superior energy efficiency at highway speeds. The slow spinning torque monster new EA 288 produces all of its 236 ft.lbs. of torque between 1750 and 3000 rpms. 150 HP of peak power is produced between 3000 and 4000 rpms.

When cruising at highway speeds in the top gear, the TDI equipped vehicles enjoy the fuel economy benefits of a turbo charged diesel engine spinning at slow speeds while throwing out globs of torque to keep the autobahn style speeds going ^^ TDI engines are 30% more fuel efficient than comparable gasoline engines.

TDI vs Hybrid 

Hybrid vehicles of today achieve exceptionally high fuel economy when they are driven more than 8mi per day, in a mix of city driving and congested highway traffic conditions, where all of that regenerative breaking and low speed EV mode operation returns close to 50MPG in the city. TDI vehicles on the other hand tend to achieve their best fuel economy when driven by a skilled hypermiler at steady highway speeds above 50 MPH.

Diesel fuel has about 15% more energy than gasoline. In diesel engines, the high compression ratios and typical turbo charging result in more efficient extraction of the fuels energy. Using advanced emissions control technologies new clean diesel vehicles effectively reduce particulate and NOx emissions to a level acceptable to future government emission regulations LEV3 and EU6. Modern super ultra-low sulfur diesel fuels have 97% less sulfur than older diesel fuel we remember from the past. New diesel engines have to be highly refined in order to cope with the lower lubricity of the low sulfur fuels, and this required a lot of manufacturing optimization innovations.

When Leaf Lease Ends 

In November of 2015 the Lease of my 2013 Nissan Leaf S will come to an end :( I have extremely mixed feelings about this. In many ways I absolutely love the Leaf, but deep down wish deeply that is had an on-board range extender to enable more use cases for the vehicle. I have even conjured up ways to cobble together a 8kW generator with a 230v 30A EVSE cord to build a portable (tow behind) Level II charger solution that would enable range extended road trips in the Leaf. If I do end up buying the Leaf at the end of the lease, I will invest in some seriously long extensions cords and a portable Level II charger that can be plugged in at RV parks. A 2kw Honda portable generator with the supplied Panasonic level 1 charger and a 5gal sealed gas can could even work to refill the Leaf in a pinch with less cost and weight than the aforementioned portable Level II range extender trailer. At the end of two years I will have spent approximately $7.5K to drive the Leaf, including insurance, charging, and all of the lease costs or looking at it another way $10 per day.

I may decide to step back from EV technology to wait until much better before investing again, and hop onboard with a VW TDI Jetta Value Edition for $23K. My enthusiasm for TDI was always tempered by knowledge about the foul smelling toxic stuff that exists the tail pipes of such vehicles, pollution that is directly linked to respiratory diseases like COPD and Lung Cancer. Newer clean diesels have gone a long way towards cleaning up theses emissions, and the latest EA 288 engine seems to have the eco-credits to make it worthy of operation in the vehicle fleet that Megan and I operate.

Diesel Math Considered 

If the $23K Jetta TDI value edition is driven 6000mi per year and achieves 42MPG combined average, by fuel costs will be about 143 gallons per year or $715 @ $5/gal. 

If I keep the Jetta for 20 years and drive it 200,000 mi it will burn about 4800 gallons of diesel, it will accumulate 40 oil changes, 5 sets of tires, and about $8000 of other vehicle specific costs : excluding insurance (which is required for any vehicle I operate). This is about $38K in fuel costs $12K in other costs and $21k in capital investment losses assuming the residual value at the end of the 20 years is $2K. 

This means the net lifetime cost would be about $71,000 taking into account fuel price increases over the next 20 years, for a net annual operating cost of $3,500. You may consider my budget math a little "steep" but I added in "fudge" to account for unforeseeable costs. I also assume that the average price per gallon for diesel fuel over then next 20 years will be $8/gal, close to $5/gal within the next 5 years, and north of $10/gal 15 years from now. 

Taking into account inflation, the actual realized net costs per year would be closer to $4K USD 2014 over this 20 year interval. Clearly electric vehicles will enjoy lower net long term operating costs, even if their $12K batteries have to swapped out every 120K miles.  The truth is that I will probably not drive 10,000mi per year, and so my actual fuel costs would be lower than calculated. Here I am assuming a personal worse case cost projection to under budget so that fiscal accountability and long term financial security are built into the cost analysis of the Diesel Math :) $3K/year for 20 years 

Lets also consider an alternative gas powered vehicle cost analysis with similar long term fuel cost structure averages. Lets say that the 30MPG gas powered car rings out at $5K less, or $18K out the door, and over 200,000 mi and 20 years it will burn 6700 gallons of gas that sells for average of $8/gal; our long term operating costs are $16K capital loss, $54K fuel costs, and $12k in other vehicle related costs, for a total of $82,000 or $4,100 per year : taking into account inflation about $3.5K/year for 20 years. 

This means that a compact fuel efficient 30MPG real world average vehicle will actually cost about $500 per year more than the TDI vehicles, even though the gas powered ones cost less upfront, because they burn so much more fuel. The 2005 Prius with its 46.1MPG lifetime fuel economy average currently has a net annual cost average of less than $3K, making even second generation hybrids from Toyota affordable to operate, and this is even taking into account the $4K cost of having the dealership change out the NiMH traction battery once during the Prius' operating life. In a hybrid you essentially trade a $4000 battery for at least $14,000 of fuel savings. Toyota is now on their 6th generation hybrid platform and the 7th gen hybrid and plug in hybrid are slated to launch in Q3 2016. Lower costs per mile and dramatic emissions reductions are realized through the use of the Hybrid Synergy Drive technology developed by Toyota.


  1. Thanks for the insight on the new engine. One problem I see with your cost analysis: you are not discounting the cash flows. You are assuming that the dollars spent on fuel 20 years from now are on the same level with the capital cost of purchasing the car today. The $1,500 you spend on fuel 20 years from now paying $10/gallon for 150 gallons will only be worth $223 today.

    Assuming that maintenance costs are roughly equivalent between the gas and diesel version of the vehicle, the break even point on the diesel is during the 12th year of ownership, assuming a 4% per annum fuel increase (starting at $5/gal) and a discount rate of around 12% (long-term stock-market yield). The biggest assumption is the price of fuel. 12 years at $5 per gallon starting gas becomes 20+ years at a starting gas price of $3. So the important question to ask is "How much of a premium does the buyer place on carbon emissions?"

    Granted, the residual value of the diesel is likely to be much, much higher than either the gas or the hybrid due to the longevity of the diesel design. A 2003 Jetta TDI 5-speed with 120,000 miles will still trade hands for $8-9,000. The gas versions are one third to one fourth of that. The hybrids? The Prius V appears to hold its value well...but I don't know about the 200k+ territory.

  2. I should preface my comments about VW TDIs by saying that I have no particular "Eco" or "Green" ax to grind. We bought our Passat TDI SEL in July 2013 after 40+ years of SAAB ownership, 14 cars mostly well used (driving a well-used car instead of buying new is the greenest thing we could do). We compared the Passat TDI with the Subaru Outback, Prius "v", Honda Accord (unfortunately, the new Hybrid was not available when we had to pull the trigger), the Passat, and the Ford Fusion Hybrid. We drove all these cars once, and drove each of he finalists (the Passat and the Fusion) again. The Passat won. Why? The Prius was certainly a well-made car, but a whole lot like driving an appliance. Plus, since our driving is over two-thirds on the Interstate, the hybrid gives little advantage. The Fusion Hybrid is an impressive car, no doubt, but a bit like a rolling computer, and we couldn't abide the loss of a big part of the trunk space due to battery pack.
    The Passat was the clear winner, and has not disappointed. Our Fuelly average for the lifetime of the car is 41.4 mpg, record was a 530 mile trip with cruise at 75mph, got 47.2 mpg with a heavy load. We are not "hyper-milers," make no attempt whatever to increase mileage by driving a certain speed or engaging in drafting or other techniques.
    We are considering trading our CKRA diesel for the new generation EA288 in the Summer of 2017.
    On the subject of electrics- not ready for prime time for the general purpose car user, I'm afraid. Your Leaf is a wonderful example of a commuter electric, but that's all it is. An electric solution is awaiting a breakthrough in battery technology, and from what I understand of the physics and chemistry of it, I'm not holding my breath. In the meantime, there's diesel!

  3. Gas prices are smoke and mirrors, but cheap given that a gallon of gas or diesel has as much energy as 15 or 20 golf cart batteries

    The Leaf is an ideal commuter car to clean up air in dense urban area, where slow speeds and congestion make for a lot of idling engines that fume out smog where a lot of people are breathing. I will be giving our Leaf S back to Nissan soon when the lease ends because charging it is too slow and inconvenient where I live and work. The real problem is the lack of power outlets where it is parked most of the time. I will switch to using the Honda PCX with all season riding gear when I turn in the leaf, waiting for better automotive technology to enter the market place before I vote again with another purchasing choice. I may even go super cheap and pick up an older Honda Civic used or something clean and efficient that is reasonably priced, as a placeholder in my vehicle collection for a few years. The 05 Prius is staying in our family for the long run.

    Thanks for the Thoughtful comments and for reading my blog Mr. Kessing and Mr. Rico

    Check out for the forefront of vehicle energy technology coverage. Peace be with you