Biodiesel cars are slowly becoming more mainstream. This article by Mike Cubert discusses the ways manufacturers are changing with the environmental times. -WP

So, You Want to Buy a Biodiesel Car

By Mike Cubert

You've had enough of rising gas prices and it's just about time to trade your old car in anyway. So you're thinking about getting a biodiesel car, hoping that it will take some of the pressure off your pocketbook. Well, we have good news for you. Not only will a biodiesel vehicle save you money, but it will also help you take better care of the environment – with 78% lower emissions than a standard vehicle running petroleum-based fuel. But where do you get a biodiesel car, you wonder Well, hold on to your driver's license because the good news continues. Any diesel car is already a biodiesel car. Nothing has to be done to the vehicle at all except fill the tank with biodiesel fuel instead of regular diesel.

The first American company to release a biodiesel car, specifically designed to run best on B5 or 5% biodiesel, 95% conventional, petroleum-based diesel, was Chrysler with their 2005 Jeep Liberty. The other blends of biodiesel fuel you'll most commonly find are B20 (20% biodiesel, 80% diesel) and B100 (100% biodiesel), though it's possible to make any mixture spanning the gamut. Interestingly enough, both B20 and B100 get the same great mileage, though the cost is slightly less for B20. The fuel emissions, harmful to both humans and our environment, however, are much lower in B100 than in B20 or any other blends, for that matter.

Showing outstanding support for the biodiesel car revolution (so to speak) Volkswagen, maker of many fine diesel vehicles (like the Beetle, Jetta, Touareg, and Golf TDIs – that's for Turbo Diesel Injection), says that they will not void the warranty on your vehicle simply because you poured biodiesel fuel into the tank instead of conventional diesel. That's more than most auto manufacturers can say, but it takes no psychic to predict that they'll have to catch on sometime, adopting that or a similar stance if they are to keep their diesel businesses alive.

Now, the biodiesel car isn't the only vehicle being redesigned to support and encourage use of the alternative fuel. Look at John Deere, who has plans to start shipping out all of its combines and tractors already filled with B2 (2% biodiesel, 98% diesel) blend. The Maltby Company is another, using 18,000 gallons of biodiesel fuel in their dump trucks, bulldozers, and other equipment for moving earth.

According to the National Biodiesel Board the single, largest consumers of biodiesel are fleets that are fueled at a central location, such as: city fleets, bus systems, military bases, school districts, and national parks. Part of the reason why could be the 1992 Energy Policy Act which mandates that state and federal fleets purchase vehicles that run on alternative fuels, such as the biodiesel car.

According to he U.S. DOE (Department of Energy), biodiesel fuel can potentially replace as much as 10% of the country's conventional (petroleum-based) diesel supply. No wonder so many service stations around the nation aren't starting to offer fill-ups to the biodiesel vehicle. The Great Lake states seem to have the most biodiesel fill-up stations, with the East Coast, the Carolinas, and Tennesse following close behind. California and Texas have their fair share and, from there, every state in the U.S., barring Alaska and West Virginia, has at least one establishment where a biodiesel car can get its tank filled.