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> Diesels - only for towing vehicles?, Hybrid vs. diesel
94bird
post Aug 8 2007, 12:14 AM
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I'm interested in what most of you think regarding the below article. As some of you may know, I'm not a big diesel fan, but as fate sometimes deals us a cruel hand, I've been working on diesel engine calibration for a couple of years now, and have recently taken a job at GM's Milford Proving Grounds calibrating the 4.5L diesel that will be coming out in 1/2 ton trucks for '09. Much of the auto industry has big plans for diesel and I'd like to hear if you agree with the writer of the below article or if you might find a use for a 1/2 ton Silverado or F150 with 500 lbs*ft of torque. Or, let's say, something along the size of a Ford Fusion with a 2.0L diesel in it, making 300 lbs*ft of torque.


====================================================

From 8/6 Automotive News:

Any time I drive a prototype vehicle around Los Angeles, the first question from fellow drivers is not "Hey, is that the new Volvo?" but rather "Does that come in a hybrid?"

Are you sick of the hybrid hype yet? Evidently, American car shoppers aren't. J.D. Power and Associates predicts 2007 will be the biggest year ever for gasoline-electric powertrains. As the Detroit 3 join Toyota, Honda and Nissan with their own hybrids, especially in light trucks, their popularity will likely get even stronger.

Yet, seemingly, following any story I write about the Toyota Prius or any other hybrid, I get inundated with hate e-mail from diesel-loving skeptics.

"Diesel is the answer!" the elbow-patch crowd exclaims. "Haven't you been to Europe? See how successful they are over there? Just you watch. Diesel will catch on in America as well."

I'm not buying it.

Diesel joy in England

I lived in London for nearly a year, and I experienced the diesel miracle. I found joy behind the wheel of a Ford Mondeo diesel that was far better than its petrol-powered siblings. In addition to its wondrous torque, the Mondeo delivered my wife and me on a 600-mile jaunt to England's Lake District on one tank of fuel. Similarly, I was smitten with little Peugeots and VWs with gutsy diesels under the hood.

But Eurodiesels make up for their cost premium over petrol cars thanks to massive tax breaks from Europe's national governments. Diesel fuel is cheaper for the same reason. Without those subsidies, the retail story would likely be quite different.

Then there is the emissions quarrel. A survey by the United Kingdom's WhatCar? magazine showed that the Honda Civic Hybrid, Toyota Prius and Lexus RX 400h hybrids are greener than their counterpart diesels in terms of carbon dioxide emissions. The only diesels that outperformed the Civic Hybrid and Prius were a couple 1.0-liter buzz bombs that will never make it to American roads.

But that doesn't stop the oil-burners from trying to convince us that diesel is the way.

I spent a week driving the new Mercedes-Benz E320 Bluetec. Technically, I shouldn't have been driving it in California, as it doesn't pass emissions regs here. But with a nudge and a wink, the keys were in my hand.

For all the publicity surrounding Bluetec, I expected blistering performance and astonishing mileage. I got the former, but not so much the latter.

Nothing eye-popping

In a 955-mile week, which included a 600-mile freeway-only dash to the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the diesel delivered a respectable but hardly eye-popping 30 mpg. That's basically the same mileage figure delivered by the Lexus hybrid RX 400h sportwagon and GS 450h sedan that the diesel crowd loves to bash.

Even on the 200-mile return run to Mojave that entailed a 5,000-foot descent -- feathering the throttle the whole way -- the Bluetec's mileage improved to just 33.3 mpg. So much for its 35 mpg EPA highway rating.

On the performance side, the Bluetec was indeed a star. Its staggering 400 pounds-feet of torque made quick work of passing big rigs on I-395 and quickly dispatched the two-lane freeway's Mad Max aspect.

But in city driving, the Mercedes' transmission jarringly surged between first, second and third gears. Pulling sedately from a red light routinely resulted in something like whiplash, as the diesel hunted to find the right combination of efficiency and power. This dysfunction repeated itself in slow-and-go freeway conditions as well.

Diesels have made huge strides since the clattering, stinky '70s VW Rabbits and their glow plugs. But diesels will always have a particulate perception problem, no matter how clean they claim their emissions are. Even though automakers and refiners now are trapping particulate crud as small as five microns, it isn't good enough.

Crud in the blood

The new California standard may require filtering below two microns. Those minuscule carcinogenic particles remain aloft for weeks and are absorbed directly into the bloodstream. Yuck. If the petroleum refiners don't play ball and clean up the fuel, that's an expensive moving target for engine makers to hit.

"The horrible Achilles heel for the diesel people is that particulates are much harder to manage than hydrocarbons," said Eric Noble, analyst with The Car Lab in Orange, Calif. "They're already doing pretty unnatural acts, like putting cans of urine onto the cars to meet the current standards. You can only imagine how hard it will be to meet the future standards."

Finally, there's the matter of obtaining ultralow-sulfur diesel fuel. Mercedes apocalyptically warned that filling the Bluetec with anything but that fuel would result in emissions system damage, plagues of locusts and the return of disco.

Upon pulling into Mobil, Arco, Shell, Alliance and two Chevron stations in blue-collar San Pedro, Calif., I was unable to find a pump that dispensed regular diesel fuel, let alone a place that sold the ultralow-sulfur variety.

Realize that San Pedro is a town full of building contractors who will argue for hours whether their Cummins Ram pickup can kick the snot out of your PowerStroke F-250. Still, it took a 13-mile journey to find a Shell station that sold the right stuff.

That's the final straw. With a hybrid, any filling station will do. Heck, in the near future, any wall outlet will do, what with rapid advances in plug-in hybrid technology.

Then consider that Toyota sells nearly as many hybrids in America as BMW or Mercedes sells total cars, let alone their small fraction of diesels, and you see the consumer already has made the decision. Plus, hybrids are a natural gateway to fuel cell vehicles.

Sorry, oil-burners, you missed your chance. Hybrids got the jump. Diesel has too steep a mountain to climb, even if it has 400 pounds-feet of torque.

======================================================
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z28racergirl
post Aug 8 2007, 12:50 AM
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Biodiesel. Make it yourself and recycle used veggie oil.

That's what I like about diesels. Stuff that would go in a landfill gets burned up. The batteries in hybrids are going in landfills.
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Pilot
post Aug 8 2007, 01:06 AM
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QUOTE (z28racergirl @ Aug 7 2007, 08:50 PM) *
Biodiesel. Make it yourself and recycle used veggie oil.

That's what I like about diesels. Stuff that would go in a landfill gets burned up. The batteries in hybrids are going in landfills.

(IMG:http://www.frrax.com/rrforum/style_emoticons/default/stupid.gif)

Plus, diesels put out the power for those of us who want/need it. Hybrids may be generally green... but the performance factor is, well.. disheartening.
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sgarnett
post Aug 8 2007, 02:28 AM
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My thoughts, in no particular order:

1) I'm not convinced that bio-diesel is all that "green" when you consider the manufacturing process. At least it is renewable and burns cleaner, though.

2) I don't understand why hybrids have gasoline engines. It seems like a great application for a small diesel.

3) I bought a gasoline tractor because diesel and asthma don't mesh well, and gasoline is available nearby. In hindsight, if fuel prices had been as high then as they are now, and if I had realized how little diesel I would have to haul in, I would have gone that route instead. Besides, if I had bought a diesel, it might still be running (IMG:http://www.frrax.com/rrforum/style_emoticons/default/smile.gif)

4) The 4 cylinder gasoline auto S10 I inherited could sure benefit from the torque curve of a little diesel for daily driving, especially for pulling the hills (even empty ...).

5) The little Honda Fit I drove recently gets great gas mileage, but it has to rev its little heart out to get anywhere.

6) The soot IS a concern .....

7) Batteries don't last that long, and are also toxic.

This post has been edited by sgarnett: Aug 8 2007, 02:35 AM
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94bird
post Aug 8 2007, 02:43 AM
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QUOTE (sgarnett @ Aug 7 2007, 10:28 PM) *
2) I don't understand why hybrids have gasoline engines. It seems like a great application for a small diesel.

6) The soot IS a concern .....


2) The one and only reason is cost. Most of you are familiar with the cost premium that diesels have in pickup trucks. That will take another huge leap in 2010 with more aftertreatment and other technologies needed to meet emissions goals. Now, add on the cost of a battery and other hardware needed to make it a hybrid, and you're quite easily looking at a $10K option. When you're talking about a $25,000 car turning into a $35,000 car, that's a HUGE deal.

6) I see soot as not much of an issue. DPF technology is quite good, and has been proven for years in Europe. New diesels in the US all have them now also. Combustion and fuel injection technology in diesels is growing by leaps and bounds and the engine-out soot emissions of diesels is being dramatically reduced.
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94bird
post Aug 8 2007, 02:53 AM
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QUOTE (Pilot @ Aug 7 2007, 09:06 PM) *
Plus, diesels put out the power for those of us who want/need it. Hybrids may be generally green... but the performance factor is, well.. disheartening.


Hybrids don't have to perform poorly. Witness,

http://www.businessweek.com/autos/content/...age_top+stories

Very good mileage for a car of it's size and 0-60 in 7.6 seconds. Certainly not supercar territory, but for an Altima, good enough for 95% of the customers out there I bet. Good gas mileage too. If they made more of them and let the public know it was out there, it might just be a hit.

Toyota is trying their hand at using the electric motors to boost performance, and not just focusing on good fuel economy, especially in the Lexus line. Honda tried it with the V6 Accord and is pulling it, because their sales were horrible. They plan to come out with a dedicated hybrid vehicle soon instead. Customers think of a Prius when they think of a hybrid. It's all about the environment or your gas bill each month when you buy a Prius, not performance. If you want performance, there are certainly cheaper (purchase price) ways of getting it than either a diesel or a hybrid.
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BigEnos
post Aug 8 2007, 03:06 AM
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I'm a global warming skeptic, so the whole "emits more carbon dioxide" argument doesn't really do anything to sway me.

My main thoughts with any alternative powertrain is that while they save lots of gas/fuel, am I going to make back all the money I spend on the upgrade? On the newer HD trucks, I just don't see it happenning unless, maybe, resale is figured in. I wonder if the 1/2 tons will be better? My brother had a TDI Jetta, had the usual VW issues, but also it had expensive problems like glowplugs that needed to be replaced at 50K miles (for $500). That could buy a lot of gasoline. I haven't heard of widespread reliability issues with Hybrids, but there's not tons of them out there yet. Also, when you add in the total cost to manufacture, do hybrids really help The Big Picture? At least diesels have other benefits (big torque, great mileage and an improved driving experience). Hybrids do seem to work great in some venues like city driving and taxis. They really shine and the operators love them for that.

Seems to me that a corolla, civic, aveo, etc make more sense if you just want some fuel efficiency out of a commuter. I drive a Mustang GT to work every day, so much for that.

That article was written in a tone that made it obvious that the author had a predisposition toward favoring hybrids over diesels. It's what all the cool kids talk about I guess...
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Mericet
post Aug 8 2007, 03:43 AM
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Did not read the article but my thoughts could be summed up by looking at a vehicle in my sig.
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poSSum
post Aug 8 2007, 04:18 AM
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I love torque.

The 5.3 in our Silverado doesn't cut it as a tow vehicle compared to the LS2 in our Trailblazer SS.

If I could get the towing grunt of the LS2 plus decent mileage in a light duty pickup by going to a diesel I'd probably be all over it.

I'd be much less inclined to have interest in a small diesel car.

I won't go near a hybrid before something along the line of the Volt is available and proven.

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sgarnett
post Aug 8 2007, 12:43 PM
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I'm not a global warming skeptic, but I don't think C02 is the whole story. I think deforestation, paving, and construction play a big role too.

To draw a historic analogy, at the risk of going off on a tangent:
In the last year of Clinton's administration, Greenspan was hell-bent on curbing inflation and thought unemployment was too low, so he kept hammering at the interest rates to cool off the economy. Everyday, thousands of layoffs were being announced on the news, but most of the announcements were for several months in advance. Actual, measurable unemployment was still low. By the time the layoffs really started kicking in, it was too late. Those jobs have gone overseas and they will never come back. The capacity for those jobs will never come back, because the infrastructure and capital to support it was permanently dismantled and sold off.

Maybe you buy my summary or maybe you don't, but that doesn't really matter. I only brought it up for illustration. The point is, by the time the evidence is incontrovertible, it will be much too late. It may already be too late. Positive feedback (the bad kind, sort of like roll-oversteer) is already kicking in bigtime, whatever the cause.

Does that mean I've stopped driving my Camaro? No, I am still talking out of both sides of my mouth, and I really didn't like driving that little Fit for a day. Nevertheless, I have a young daughter, and I'm not at all happy about the direction her world is headed.

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94bird
post Aug 8 2007, 01:01 PM
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QUOTE (Mericet @ Aug 7 2007, 11:43 PM) *
Did not read the article but my thoughts could be summed up by looking at a vehicle in my sig.


The problem is modern diesels are completely different animals than your 99 Jetta. They are now much more expensive to buy and repair, and are not as efficient, since they are hit with stiffer emissions requirements.
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sgarnett
post Aug 8 2007, 01:02 PM
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I guess I didn't really answer one of the questions. If I could buy a half-ton fullsize pickup with diesel torque at a manageable price, yes I would seriously consider it. If I could buy a half-ton compact/midsize with diesel torque, I would seriously consider that too, even though the wheelbase and weight may be insufficient for safely towing anything really big.

Basically, I'd like to have a 3/4 ton S10 (IMG:http://www.frrax.com/rrforum/style_emoticons/default/smile.gif)

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94bird
post Aug 8 2007, 01:03 PM
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QUOTE (sgarnett @ Aug 8 2007, 08:43 AM) *
I'm not a global warming skeptic, but I don't think C02 is the whole story. I think deforestation, paving, and construction play a big role too.


Completely agree. The problem is the auto industry is the peg sticking out of the hole at the moment. Congress is hell bent on hammering that peg down. I hope for everyone's sake, that the burden is shared more with other industries than what I read about in the news every day.
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mitchntx
post Aug 8 2007, 04:13 PM
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Had it not been for a family situation, I wouldn't be in a deisel right now. The initial cost premium, fuel premium pricing and the ridiculous costs associated with maintenance basically prices a deisel out of the market for most of us.

In a land where perception is 90% reality, seeing black soot rolling out of a deisel's exhaust immediately says "pollution". When a carbed 409 drives away from a stop, leaving no "visible" evidence, it's automatically cleaner.

Analogies are great and I have one as well.

The nclear power industry took a HUGE black eye after TMI. All of a sudden, nuke power was bad joo-joo and the industry ground to a hault. It has taken sky rocketing energy prices and rolling brown outs to make people educate themselves and realize that nuke power really isn't that big of a deal.

The medical industry generates exponentially more radioactive waste than the nuke power industry generates and has 1/10 the regulatory scrutiny.

It will take an uproar about all the toxic waste from trashed batteries from hybrids to make folks realize that the black soot isn't as bad as drinking lead.

By that time, deisels will be so regulated and dumbed down that they will be useless in anything other than lawn mower.

Perception ...
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BigEnos
post Aug 8 2007, 04:53 PM
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Just to clarify what I mean when I say I'm a global warming skeptic.

I think the planet probably is warming.
It *might* be partly due to human factors.
If it is due to human-caused CO2 production
-please tell me how much levels need to be lowered to avoid "x" as a side effect.
i. furthermore, please show me exactly how lowering our CO2 output by an incremental amount will help so we know when enough is enough.

I think we need to know this because we as a society need to make some big changes that will cost literally trillions of dollars. What's that going to buy us? Are we better off just dealing with the symptoms? What are the potential benefits of global warming?

Not to mention these ultra-long-range projections are coming from the same general "knowledgebase" (ie climatologists and meteorologists) who cannot accurately forecast the next hurricane season.

And don't get me started on the potentials for mass centralization, loss of personal freedoms, and outright corruption that the so called "solutions" could spawn.

This will be all I say on the subject because this isn't really the right forum for this. You can PM me if you really want to continue this discussion.

Sorry for the (IMG:http://www.frrax.com/rrforum/style_emoticons/default/rant2.gif)
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pknowles
post Aug 8 2007, 06:27 PM
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QUOTE (BigEnos @ Aug 8 2007, 12:53 PM) *
What are the potential benefits of global warming?

Plant life would thrive with a global temperature increase of a few degrees. (IMG:http://www.frrax.com/rrforum/style_emoticons/default/2thumbs.gif)
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sgarnett
post Aug 8 2007, 07:31 PM
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QUOTE (BigEnos @ Aug 8 2007, 12:53 PM) *
This will be all I say on the subject because this isn't really the right forum for this. You can PM me if you really want to continue this discussion.

So you expect to lob in your opinion, then declare that any dissent is off-topic? Umm, no, and actually I think it's germane to the original question.

Nevertheless, we agree on a several things, I think.

1) You are never going to get the answers you are looking for, as I assume was your point. It's kind of like asking how good your helmet and cage need to be. Up front, the pragmatic answer may be, "whatever is required by the rules". You'll only really know afterward that it was or wasn't enough.

2) Knee-jerk reactions that feel right can be very wrong after you dig through the details.

A great example was the McDonalds switch from relatively-benign styrofoam to non-recyclable paper and cardboard for their food wrappers. The environmentalists who forced the switch apparently weren't aware that the FDA required paper food wrappers to be plastic-coated, or that paper comes from <drum roll, please ...> paper mills.

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Sam Strano
post Aug 8 2007, 07:58 PM
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Just wanted add a few of my own thoughts here:

I love my diesel truck, I burn way less fuel than I ever did with my gassers, and I pound hills flat doing it. More power, way better mileage.... I'll take it. As for the extra cost, I see it as an upgrade. Z28's cost more than V-6's, and Z06's more than C6's. And if more folks bought them the costs associated would fall too. What common thing hasn't come down in price when it's use became widespread? Brian's brother had issues with a VW Diesel. Because it's a diesel, or a VW? I've had 5 GM vehicles. 3 were GREAT. 1 was ok, and the other was a rolling piece of crap. I bought 3 after the bad one figuring lemons happen and never had those issues again.

I do believe the planet is warming, and I really don't know how anyone couldn't believe that it is. Moreover, that it's not because of humans. Yes, the planet could be warming on it's own--after all something happened to make the ice-ages end, but we're helping.... Everything we do either creates heat, regardless of whether or not you buy Carbon emissions as a greenhouse gas. Your cars, trucks, brakes, Air Conditioning, furnance, TV's, cell phones and so on all create heat. Hell, just the amount of people on the planet if we didn't use any fuel creates more heat. You can see that by standing in a crowded place, it cools down when the people dispurse. Yep, I'm like Sean. I have fun cars, I tow with a truck where I really might not *need* to do so. But I also try and be responsible. Hence the diesel truck, the reason I bought new car (not a mileage miser, but less fuel than the truck uses), I have cats on my Camaro, I turn my furnance and AC down when I'm not home, I recycle what I can. I really think if folks in general just cared a tiny bit more we'd all be better off.

I'm not all that worried about loss of personal freedoms because of evironmental concerns. The environmental laws that exist now (or maybe in the '90's), but weren't around in the '70's haven't caused anyone problems. Ok, no more leaded gas--that doesn't seem to be an issue. (IMG:http://www.frrax.com/rrforum/style_emoticons/default/smile.gif) I'm a lot more scared about being called and enemy combatant and tossed in Gitmo without any due process, orand knowing there are those that can do what they want and get away with it time and again without penalty. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Best line I've seen in a signature: "that's ok, I wasn't using my civil liberties anyway".

Sorry, I guess I digressed. This started with a diesel vs. hybrid topic.... I think anything that can help lessen our need for oil is good (environmentally, economically, and politically). I'm not saying STOP USING OIL. I think hybrids are a decent idea, and even though a lot of folks buy them for the statement they make instead of the help they can be, they are still saving some oil. However, if you leadfoot a Prius and a Jetta, or a Hybrid Silerado and my Dodge, I bet the diesel wins in both cases on mileage and costs. And we can run renewable fuels in them as well. I wish like hell I could get Biodiesel around here. I'd pay a little more for it even--after all when it's $3 a gallon, what's $3.10?
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BigEnos
post Aug 8 2007, 08:23 PM
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QUOTE (sgarnett @ Aug 8 2007, 01:31 PM) *
QUOTE (BigEnos @ Aug 8 2007, 12:53 PM) *
This will be all I say on the subject because this isn't really the right forum for this. You can PM me if you really want to continue this discussion.

So you expect to lob in your opinion, then declare that any dissent is off-topic? Umm, no, and actually I think it's germane to the original question.


No, you can discuss anything you want. I won't say any more on the subject, though. That's what I mean when I say "This will be all I say on the subject."


The "I" is the important part.

And no, I have not "declared dissent off-topic". What *I* said was off-topic, and I'm merely stating that I will not further participate in that discussion because it really isn't the gist of what the original post was.

Once again you may do as you please (of course).

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sgarnett
post Aug 8 2007, 08:33 PM
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QUOTE (94bird @ Aug 7 2007, 08:14 PM) *
====================================================

From 8/6 Automotive News:Heck, in the near future, any wall outlet will do, what with rapid advances in plug-in hybrid technology.
======================================================


By the way, where I live the power to recharge that plugged-in electric comes from strip-mined coal and dammed rivers. Nothing's ever as simple as it appears ....

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