Fuel Crisis Spurs Choice of Diesel Engine Staff Car
Facing the reality that we might be subjected to another fuel crisis, the Tukwila, Wash., Fire Department started to seek alternatives to the use of gasoline in staff vehicles. We also realized that it would be beneficial for the department to show financial responsibility in long-range planning.
During the evaluation, we discovered that our present vehicles were averaging 8.8 miles per gallon of high octane gasoline. Also, the vehicles required tune-ups every 3400 miles and, as with most items, the price of a new staff car had increased from $4500 to $(3780 in lour years.
We found that the costs of operat ing a staff vehicle for 7000 miles included tune-ups at $131 and fuel, at 69 cents a gallon, $548.86, making a total of $679.86.
Because of the electrical demand of lights and radio equipment, batterypowered autos were not practical. However, a diesel auto was within the realm of possibility.
Working with local auto dealers, we gathered enough statistics to justify to our City Council an authorization to purchase a 1978 diesel-powered Oldsmohile.
Using the same 7000 miles for evaluation purposes, we arrived at the following estimates: cost of car, $7180; fuel, 48 cents a gallon; miles per gallon, 18; and tune-ups, none.
By using the above information, we est imated the cost of operation for 7000 miles at $185,64. The $400 additional cost of the vehicle would be offset during the first 7000 miles.
Another aspect to consider was that a diesel engine would save an estimated 2919 gallons of fuel. In the long run, the fuel savings over 50,000 miles may be t he most important aspect of the switch.
Don’t get the wrong idea, there are some drawbacks. The diesel acceleration is somewhat slower than a comparable gasoline engine and the effect of citizens observing the fire department driving an Oldsmohile is an adjustment that has to be addressed.
During the ’60s, we found it advisable to change to diesel fire apparatus. Now we may be advised to look at diesel cars and pickups for the same reason.