Diesel that meets CA's "clean air vehicle" requirements?
May 12, 2006 1:35 PM   Subscribe

I would like to purchase a high-mileage / low-emissions vehicle which I can drive (alone) in the carpool lanes around the Bay Area. Hybrids present one option, though I'd rather be in a diesel VW Golf, running biodiesel. I need help figuring out the requirements listed here to see if a diesel Golf meets them. And does anyone know if filling it with biodiesel changes anything? What other vehicle options are there?
posted by scarabic to Travel & Transportation (15 answers total)
I think the page you want is this one. I don't see any diesels on the list, probably because they have no way to be sure you're really using biodiesel fuel.
posted by jjg at 1:42 PM on May 12, 2006

I don't think biodiesel is even under consideration. The REG 1000 form [PDF] only has 4 options for Motive Power: Electric, LPG, CNG, and Hybrid.
posted by junesix at 1:46 PM on May 12, 2006

If you'd never consider a motorcycle you can stop reading here.

But a Kawasaki Ninja 250 will get 70+ mpg, cost under $3,000 new, and can easily do highway speeds with an adult rider. By federal mandate, motorcycles must qualify for HOV lanes. Just a thought.
posted by mojohand at 1:51 PM on May 12, 2006

I don't understand... why is the Escalade listed as a SULEV (super ultra low emissions vehicle) on that list, jig?

I'm missing something. How can you tell which standards a given model will meet?

Looks like the diesel is out, though. A shame! Thanks
posted by scarabic at 1:52 PM on May 12, 2006

Take a careful look at that table, the CNG Escalade is a SULEV.
posted by b1tr0t at 2:07 PM on May 12, 2006

With respect to this page, I don't think diesel or biodiesel is listed because

- California retailers will not be rquired to sell Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel unitl September, so at this time diesel vehicles can not be assured of low emissions to meet the standard.

- Biodiesel is still considered an 'alternative fuel' that cannot be sold at the retail level. You must be a member of a fleet or 'biodiesel club' to buy it.
posted by pgoes at 2:15 PM on May 12, 2006

go for the prius, man. since the weather's gotten a bit warmer/less windy, i'm averaging 53mpg on the loop between oakland and santa clara. in general the wind goes southish and so i get about 56 on the way down to work and 50 on the way back home.

i have seen a white VW rabbit on 880 with an enormous home-made "ELECTRIC: <> lane OK" sticker on the back window. i guess the white carpool stickers were too invisible and he kept getting pulled over.

so electric might be an option but of course you'd have to do the conversion yourself.
posted by joeblough at 3:16 PM on May 12, 2006

The point is to reduce smog. Renewable or no Diesel = smog.
posted by delmoi at 3:24 PM on May 12, 2006

By the way, I have a VW diesel, and run biodiesel in it with no problems. I may not get in the carpool lanes, but biodiesel has other advantages:
- the low emissions, as noted
- a minimal contribution to the petrochemical industry
- safe to store (keep 30 gallons in the garage to use when The Big One hits)
- you can make it yourself!
posted by pgoes at 3:24 PM on May 12, 2006

aside: there's a guy here at work that runs his car on straight used vegetable oil. to get away with this, he has to start it up on diesel and get the vegetable oil tank hot so the oil's viscosity is lowered. and then of course before stopping the car he has to switch back to diesel to clear out the injectors.

a lot easier than biodiesel in one sense. i guess the hassle factor just shifted to how you have to drive vs. having a "still" at home to make the purified biodiesel.
posted by joeblough at 3:29 PM on May 12, 2006

Biodiesel is still considered an 'alternative fuel' that cannot be sold at the retail level. You must be a member of a fleet or 'biodiesel club' to buy it.

I don't think that's a legal requirement. The Solar Living Center in Hopland sells it retail, to anyone.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 4:16 PM on May 12, 2006

Yeah, and I live in Berkeley, which has its few scattered advantages :)

I would like to go biodiesel all the way. I'm well aware of the benefits. Hosted a serious biodiesel nut in my Burning Man camp one year. But given the expense of switching cars and my daily commute over the Bay Bridge, that "access ok" sticker plays a big part in it. That's really my question: how to qualify different vehicles to that standard. There's lots of great info on AskMe about "green" vehicles and biodiesel, I just didn't find a question that addressed the DMV's perception of these vehicles.
posted by scarabic at 7:52 PM on May 12, 2006

Wow, b1tr0t, who knew there was a natural gas Escalade? Not me!
posted by scarabic at 7:54 PM on May 12, 2006

Just about all the entries under Cadillac & Chevrolet have a "BAYTECH" suffix, so you can easily guess that Baytech offers the CNG conversion.

You might look up Baytech and start a conversation with them about how their conversions get registered with the state.
posted by b1tr0t at 9:19 PM on May 12, 2006

Re: Baytech -

In Pakistan (and my co-worker says Panama as well) you can convert any gasoline-powered car to also take CNG. My uncle got the conversion done for about $1k, and he's got a little switch on his dashboard to switch from gasoline to CNG while he's driving.

I bet these Baytech guys can convert most cars to CNG.
posted by exhilaration at 9:44 AM on May 15, 2006

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