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Bosch exec says future of diesel fuel promising

Diesel fuel could become preferred energy source for cars over the next 20 years.

Dec 08,2009
Juergen Gerhardt, senior vice president of German automotive giant Robert Bosch, is confident that clean diesel will become a preferred power source for vehicles over the next 20 years despite the development of electric cars.

Gerhardt said yesterday that the biggest reason the global automotive industry is aggressively developing electric vehicles is tied to the energy efficiency they can provide.

Electric vehicles can travel 2.5 times further than cars with conventional internal-combustion engines on the same amount of energy, he said.

However, with current technology, clean diesel engines can also achieve higher fuel economy and lower carbon dioxide emissions.

“Diesel has exceptionally high energy density,” said Gerhardt, who is visiting Seoul to participate in a two-day clean diesel global forum held at the National Assembly in Yeouido.

“Fifty milliliters of diesel fuel generates the same amount of energy as 68 kilograms [150 pounds] of the latest nickel-metal hybrid battery. This means that a 50-liter diesel fuel tank has the same energy amount as a 68-ton hybrid battery.”

Oh Kang-hyun, Korea Petroleum Association chairman, said diesel is the most efficient of all the automotive fuels out there right now. Citing a study he conducted last year for Korea University, Oh said diesel vehicles have 16 percent to 32 percent better fuel economy compared to regular gasoline vehicles.

Additionally, diesel-fueled vehicles have 54 percent to 77 percent higher fuel economy than those that run on liquefied petroleum gas, he said.

Gerhardt said he has noticed that Korean cars are getting bigger and heavier, which is similar to the dynamics of the industry in the United States. Therefore, he said, it is important to utilize diesel technology to secure better fuel economy.

Oh agrees as well.

“The government needs to change the taxation system applied on diesel engines in order to boost the industry,” Oh said. “But most of all, we need to change our distorted conception of diesel fuel” as a dirty energy source.

He pointed out that the Seoul government recently announced a plan to switch from diesel-fueled buses to buses that run on compressed natural gas in order to reduce pollution.

He also noted that Paris, where 70 percent of new vehicles run on diesel, has lower microscopic dust levels than Seoul. “We have to realize that the clean diesel of today is not the diesel that we knew in the 1980s,” Oh said.


By Lee Ho-jeong [ojlee82@joongang.co.kr]



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