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Study Shows Diesel Cars, Trucks and SUVs Could Reduce California's Depenence on Petroleum

August 29, 2002

A report conducted by M.Cubed, an economics and policy research firm in Davis, California, found that gradually increasing the use of currently available clean diesel technologies in cars, trucks and SUVs could save California 141 million gallons of gasoline per year by 2010. This could total up to 930 million gallons per year by 2030. According to the report, diesel-powered passenger vehicles range from 35 to 50 percent more fuel efficient than similar sized gas-powered vehicles, and diesel economy cars can attain up to 78 miles per gallon. New developments in diesel fuel injection systems have significantly increased the fuel efficiency. Richard McCann, Ph.D., M.Cubed partner and specialist in environmental and energy resource issues, presented the findings Aug. 26 at the U.S. Department of Energy-sponsored Diesel Engine Emissions Reduction (DEER) Conference in San Diego. About eight popular European diesel cars and SUVs are available at the conference for test drives. DTF commissioned the report to provide economic and technical input into California Assembly Bill 2076, which instructed the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the California Energy Commission (CEC) to develop strategies for reducing the state's dependence on petroleum. The joint CARB-CEC report was due in April 2002, but state officials expect the report will be delivered to the legislature early in 2003 due to the complexity of fully evaluating the options. In addition, M.Cubed found that diesel vehicles consume on average 38 percent less fuel per mile than comparable gasoline-powered cars and light trucks. Using publicly available data and methodologies developed for CEC and CalTrans models, the report then forecasts the fuel savings California could enjoy based on two different assumptions concerning projected market penetration of light-duty diesel vehicles. The state could save over 530 million gallons of gasoline-equivalent fuel per year by 2030 if diesel vehi-cles grow to 25 percent of the California market, according to the report.
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