May 27, 2008

Fueling Fires

I'm looking to get a new car at the end of the summer, and after a long mini-van career, I really want to get a smaller car this time around. I'm not talking "Smart car"-ish, because that would be too small with two young boys, but something on par with the VW Golf we had in Norway, which I adored. I also want the car to have a diesel engine.

Most new cars for sale in Norway and the UK run on diesel, and yet I'm finding the selection of diesel cars in North America to be extremely limited. Diesel is vastly more efficient than gas, so how can it be that a car model is available with a diesel engine in little Norway with its limited population, but not here?

Furthermore, the selection of small-ish cars in North America is tiny (no pun intended) compared to Europe. It seems to me that while we've been away, the SUVs and trucks surrounding us have actually gotten bigger. Granted, the roads here are built to accommodate them, but why on earth do we need such gigantic vehicles on the best highways found anywhere in the world? There are no crater-like potholes to cross over, or dirt roads to traverse. The roads here are in such good shape, a normal car will do just fine.

It's almost as if we refuse to acknowledge the on-going oil crisis, and the need to conserve. A car sold in both Europe and North America will invariably have a bigger engine here. I know that bigger has always been better, but this is getting ridiculous. We cannot deny the fact that the oil price has cracked $ 130 a barrel. It will have consequences for all of us, whether we like it or not.

In the meantime, I will wait until the fall, since rumour has it that there more diesel cars are on their way to the North American market. Do you think I'll be disappointed?

38 comments:

shay said...

Not being much of a car person, I can't be sure but I think VW makes Diesel cars? hmmm...really Im not the one to even ask lol.

I drive a van but in my defense I do have 4 kids and a big dog:)
We are trying to drive less and are hoping one day to have a hybrid. How cool are those anyway?!

Alpha DogMa said...

I was reading (maybe on CNN.com) how in the last six months the rate at which SUVs and trucks depreciate has sped up, in response to the rising cost of oil that you noted. I think that retailers have recently kick started marketing big-engined vehicles, because they know their market is disappearing yet they've got so much stock on the lots right now.

What always amuses me -- because I live rural and northern and have a semi-legitimate reason for an SUV -- is how I only ever see Hummers in the city. I have never ever once seen a Hummer on a logging road or in campground. But at the mall? All the time. It is obscene.

But now let's talk about the important issue when it comes to purchasing a new car: HOW MANY CUP HOLDERS!?

And about your comment back at my place: I think you're right about my son and his sorry-issues. Thanks for the insight.

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

It's a vicious cycle. Some people get the bigger cars, and then you start feeling unsafe on the highway if you are in a much smaller one.

Kellan said...

I think we are a country of idiots - us and a BIG A$$ cars!! WE are just crazy!

Fun to be able to look for a new, smaller car - I can't wait for the day that I will be able to do that!!

Have a good Tuesday - see you - Kellan

jenontheedge said...

We saw so many great fuel-efficient cars while we were in England and lamented how few are available in the U.S. And even less diesel, which would be so nice to have.

Luckily, we do have a Mazda 3 that gets excellent gas mileage and holds the four of us comfortably, even on long car trips.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

It makes me want to throw up every time my 16 year old neighbor drives off to school by himself in a Ford Expedition. Grrrr.

Jaymie said...

We have a 2006 jetta - diesel of course. Love it!

Our salesman told us that VW would be coming out with newer diesel cars later this year, b/c of new regulations that meant they didn't produce any diesel models for 2007.
It is a lot different in Europe, I think because they have been living with higher gas prices for a lot longer.

Now I'm looking for a vw golf...

Dawn said...

Hopefully we will have better options soon. I recently watched the documentary called -Who Killed The Electric Car- and it got me thinking about many of the same things in this post. Good luck finding a great little car.

Christy said...

We got one of those compact, mini suv's a couple of years ago. I love it when I am surrounded by three feet of snow, but the rest of the time am starting to really despise it! Unfortunately for us we will have to finish paying to off before we can get something more fuel efficient, as we would lose money big time if we tried to sell it now :(

Good luck in your search.

Anna-borderline-bonkers-banana :) said...

We are also looking to get a diesel. So far the options have been bleak, looks like a Golf or a Jetta so far.
My massive beast of a fuel guzzling SUV is not going to cut it once we move out of the city. Neither will Daves for that matter. We love the size of our beasts and what we can carry but really we can keep one to haul a boat and the skidoos around with and get something small and smart to drive and commute in.
I am hoping that I wont be disappointed as well.
Heres really hoping!

Laura said...

I believe NA is changing slowly and discovering car options...I am sure your selection will increase -in diesel and in hybred selection.

Good luck!

dkuroiwa said...

A long time ago..when I was looking a cars to buy...I found a VW Dasher with a diesal engine. I took it out to my grandfather to check out and even though I had already made my mind up to buy that particular car, I wanted to see what he thought. He, being a Ford-kind of guy, did look at it with a pretty open mind, but still, said that he thought I was making a bad decision.
At that time, I was living in Atlanta and after driving it from Colorado to Georgia and then back again....Lord only knows how many trips back and forth to university (in Colorado) and then finally many trips to the tip of Texas and back (where I was teaching). After about 6 years, my grandfather finally admitted that every time I drove in their driveway, he felt like he needed to apologize for doubting my decision...and he would never do that again...for a man who wasn't wrong very often, this made our bond that much stronger!!

As for the car....I would buy another in a heartbeat!!! Mine was used and in the Colorado winter sometimes needed a shot of ether in her air filter to get the glow plugs going...but she was a great car!!!
Definitely worth looking into!!!

And I laugh at what my North American family and friends think of as "smaller cars"....there are cars over here I watch when they stop because I swear to you, one of these days, a bunch of clowns are going to come climbing out!!! :-D
My dad said, when he came for a visit..."hell, I crap bigger than that!!!" :-D
But they get great mileage..and they can park anywhere!!!

Stomper Girl said...

All I know is that diesel costs slightly more here than petrol (gas to you?) so it doesn't seem an economical choice for Australians. Everyone's talking about LPG (proper gas, I don't know the technical name for it) as the way of the future as we struggle with really high petrol prices.

Victoria said...

I loathe SUVs and the North American obsession with them. I have a paid-for mini van that gets okay mileage, but I'm searching for a good hybrid option for the coming years. Good luck in your search!!

Amber said...

Europe is ahead of the times on matters of the environment. I remember when I lived in Switzerland in the early 90s you practically had to have a PhD in recyling garbage because it was so involved. Many years later, the U.S. is still not where they were.

hokgardner said...

If you think it's hard to find smaller, fuel efficient cars in Canada, try being in Texas where giant SUVs and pick-ups are the norm. I want to find something that's not a mini-van or an SUV to hold our growing family, and I haven't been able to find anything. What ever happened to station wagons with the jump seat in the back?

Kathryn said...

My sis-in-law has a diesel Jetta and they love it! Other than that, I'm clueless. Keep us posted. I'd be interested to see what is actually out there.

Ginaagain said...

I just got rid of my SUV over the weekend and I'm feeling ridiculously proud of myself. I didn't see a single diesel car available and I only saw one hybrid. There were plenty of trucks and SUV's but no one is buying them.

Mighty Morphin' Mama said...

I think that diesel is a bit more efficient and the engines last longer. Out here in Alberta though, the cost of Diesel is much higher than gasoline. Much. My dh just sold his diesel work truck.
My minivan, thankfully, is pretty good on fuel, about the same as my bil's hybrid suv. Hybrids are great in the city, but if you are using them at highway speeds you really get no savings.
Good luck with the looking!

Amy said...

My brother -in-law drives a diesel jetta and really likes it.

Mary Beth said...

Being one of the smaller car drivers (Saturn Ion - love it for me, not so practical for a family), it gets a little frustrating that everything is now built for SUV's. Have you ever tried to go through the drive-thru of a bank and not be able to reach the window because it's been built so high off the ground? I have to get OUT of the car to put my deposit in. And seeing around cars on the major highways? Yeah, right!

Chantal said...

I drive a mini van (and love it, except for when I fill my tank) so I am not the best one to give advice but... I with the SmartCar people would get their butts in gear and get some FourFours here. I think they would sell more of them if they did.

another good thing said...

My friend bought a diesel VW Jetta last year, with the idea to run it on discarded Chinese restaurant grease-- going bio-diesel she said. Well, she hasn't done that yet, but loves her Jetta and the gas mileage it gets, though has to plan her gas station trips as diesel fuel is harder to find in GA.
I am trying to convince the husband t o buy diesel- or a hybrid Honda.

Lisa said...

When I got my Honda CRV, I told the salesperson I wanted a 4 cylinder. I wasn't going to tow a boat, the vehicle would simply be a "grocery getter" (ok and hauls crap from Lowe's as well as playdates and stuff.) The guy acted as if I was a complete moron. He said he didn't know if he had one of those on the lot because most people like way bigger engines. I held firm and he found one vehicle with a 4 cylinder engine at another Honda dealership. A few months later, gas prices shot up.

Hubby's looking at hybrids now for his next vehicle.

In short, I hope you aren't disappointed. Hope you can find what you want. And yes, I think vehicles have gotten bigger while you were gone. (Food serving sizes may have too!)

Lisa said...

When I got my Honda CRV, I told the salesperson I wanted a 4 cylinder. I wasn't going to tow a boat, the vehicle would simply be a "grocery getter" (ok and hauls crap from Lowe's as well as playdates and stuff.) The guy acted as if I was a complete moron. He said he didn't know if he had one of those on the lot because most people like way bigger engines. I held firm and he found one vehicle with a 4 cylinder engine at another Honda dealership. A few months later, gas prices shot up.

Hubby's looking at hybrids now for his next vehicle.

In short, I hope you aren't disappointed. Hope you can find what you want. And yes, I think vehicles have gotten bigger while you were gone. (Food serving sizes may have too!)

MamaGeek said...

Good question. We're ALWAYS looking for a smart car (and not THEE smart car because it would never hold all of us including our 100 pound golden retriever)!

chichimama.com said...

Have you looked at the Toyota Prius (sp?). I is a hybrid, my dad has had one for about a year and loves it, and I drove it this weekend and loved it just as much as I had loved my VW many moons ago. My next car...

Julie Pippert said...

Do you know what's better than a hybrid and a diesel?

A 3 cylinder, 49-horsepower Geo Metro. It might suck it a bit LOL but it beats a 2008 Prius forever.

Toyotas, especially Tercels, are actually good.

If you buy used you create almost no carbon footprint. :)

Just sayin'

:)

Honda is upping its fuel efficiency.

My husband's 12 year old Acura Integra gets better mileage than most cars on the market now, fits our family of 4 comfortably, and the dog fits in the hatch. Plus Acura provides LIFELONG service and we've been really happy with them.

FWIW, here's a stat:

A brand new Prius would have to drive 100 thousand miles to achieve the carbon savings of a 1998 Tercel.

Hybrids are fine, and great and all, but they aren't instantly great carbon footprint wise, and you need to make sure they beat 40mpg AT LEAST.

Also I ABSOLUTELY agree with this post. And I am amazed at the dedonculous size of cars.

Julie Pippert said...

OH! I forgot!

Diesel cars are great because you can easily convert them to vegetable oil, which you can often get for FREE from restaurants who otherwise have to pay to have the used oil hauled off.

it's a little bit of a potential pain the guy told us because you have to find a place, strike a deal, and best to carry some spare in the trunk.

But just good to know, you know, IN CASE.

:)

Motherhood for Dummies said...

you might want to look into buying a KIA. Between me and my siblings we each have bought 7 KIAs and have all been really happy with them, plus they come with a good warranty (100,000 miles). They aren't diesel, but get good gas milage

Karen MEG said...

At soccer on Saturday, the entire parking lot was lined up with minivan after minivan (ours included) and/ or SUV... - ugh! It actually was not a very pretty sight.

I'm looking forward to the day when we won't need the strollers anymore, and if the kids don't pick up hockey, then smaller would suit me better too. I HATE driving my odyssey into the city; although it's not bad on gas, parking is an absolute nightmare!

CC said...

We're trading the 13 year old mini-van in for a 5 year old Camry this summer!

Sue said...

We're car shopping right now and I'm having a hard time figuring out what to get. It has to fit three car seats in the back, get good mileage and have four wheel drive (because we ARE moving back to Utah, DANG IT). And it has to be CHEAP. VERY VERY CHEAP.

I'm not finding a lot that fits the bill, frankly.

Cheri said...

I have read good things about the VW Jetta diesel. Wish I'd bought it. I made a bad boo boo with my Volvo. It loves gas like I love granola.

Amy Y said...

I love that you are getting a smaller car! We don't have very many diesel choices down this way, either, but I've heard there is stuff on the horizon. I don't know if it's as early as fall? I'll check with S ~ he's obsessed with this stuff ~ he'll know :)

Gina said...

Wait for an electric one!

We are! Or at least we're trying to, anyway. Hopefully our oldest car will last long enough.

Steph said...

SUVs and minivans have taken over the roads. Period.

Good luck with the car shopping!

the dragonfly said...

I'm just shocked at how many people drive huge SUVs. Especially how many people with no kids drive huge SUVs.

In Germany I have a Ford Focus, which is okay, but here in the States I have a VW Jetta, which I love. Not a diesel, but very fuel efficient.