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RAND paper finds diesel, hybrid vehicles can provide more societal benefits than gas-powered autos
Date:11/8/2007

ompared to a gasoline-powered vehicle. Comparisons were made for three vehicle types: a mid-sized car, a mid-sized SUV and a large pick-up truck. The cost-benefit comparisons were made from the perspective of individual consumers and society in general, on a per-vehicle basis over the life of the vehicle.

The paper ranks the four technologies using benefit-cost analysis. Using most reasonable assumptions, the results placed advanced diesel technology first, followed by hybrid technology, the gasoline engine and E85 technology.

The consumer perspective accounted for technology cost, fuel savings, mobility and performance. The societal perspective also included tailpipe pollutants, greenhouse gas emissions and energy security costs for the fuels the costs to society as a whole from greater dependence on expensive and unstable foreign oil supplies.

Fuel taxes are excluded in the societal case, which is typical of benefit-cost analysis. And the costs are estimations that illustrate relative performance.

The results assume fuel prices of $2.50 per gallon for gasoline, $2.59 per gallon for diesel fuel, and $2.04 per gallon for E85 (including tax credit). The report also examines scenarios where fuel costs are much higher and much lower.

Among the key findings from the consumer perspective:

  • For all three vehicle types, the advanced diesel offers the highest savings over the life of the vehicle among the options considered. These savings increase with the size and fuel use of the vehicle: $460 for the car, $1,249 for the SUV and $2,289 for the large pick-up truck;

  • The hybrid option has smaller but still considerable savings for SUV applications ($1,066), moderate savings for pick-up applications ($505) but minimal savings over the life of the vehicle for car owners ($198);

  • The vehicles operating on E85 cost all three owners more over the vehicle life, with a greate
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Contact: Joe Dougherty
joseph_dougherty@rand.org
703-413-1100
RAND Corporation
Source:Eurekalert

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