Why You Want a Diesel in the Philippines.
A few weeks back I posted and article about the day my little Mitsubishi diesel Adventure wouldn’t start. See: Wired in Series — Driving in The Philippines
A lot of my readers, especially those in the USA, probably wondered why on earth an otherwise rational man would have bought a small (by US standards) diesel car as my single, personal use vehicle here in the Philippines. After all, we Americans just KNOW that diesel’s are:
- Use Much Higher Cost Fuel
- Hard to Maintain
- Add a few more negatives here of your own, if you wish.
Driving in the USA just ain’t the same as driving in the Philippines.
If you’re thinking about buying a new car in the USA, chances are that many of you won’t even be looking at prices and specs on a diesel-powered model. And that’s just fine, given the prices and conditions there.
Although this little Chevy Cruze (which is also sold here in the Philippines as a 7 seat AUV (Asian Utility Vehicle) ) has some pretty impressive numbers, IMO.
But if you move to the Philippines, there’s a few differences here you really need to consider:
Purchase Expense: In the US the few makes which offer diesel engines often are higher price to begin with and often offer their diesel engine models at significantly higher prices. Here in the Philippines, many of the more popular makes and models, such as Mitsubishi Adventures or the many L-300 van variants don’t even come with gas engine options. Other lines which do sell as both gas or diesel-powered often have more price difference between automatic and manual transmissions than diesel or gas versions.
Higher Cost Fuel: This is the place you’ll really see a huge difference between US and Philippine conditions. In the USA, you pay more than a dollar a gallon extra tax on diesel than on gasoline. Discrimination, pure and simple.
Thus diesel prices at the pump are almost always higher than gasoline.
Here in the Philippines, diesel is ALWAYS cheaper. Plus, unlike in the US, where many gas stations don’t sell diesel, virtually all major brand gas stations here have diesel pumps available.
I did a quick survey just driving around two days ago, (11 November 2016) and here, just outside the border of Metro Manila:
- Unleaded gasoline average price: PhP 42 pesos per liter … that’s $3.31 USD per gallon.
- Diesel average price: PhP 26 pesos per liter … that’s $2.05 USD per gallon.
In addition to saving you $10 or $15 USD on every fill-up, there;s another big pro-diesel fact different here than in the USA.
Idling: Driving here in metro areas can be downright miserable. As an example, from my house in Marilao, Bulacan to Terminal One at NAIA, the Manila airport, is right at 34 km (~21 miles). I’ve made that trip easily in 45 minutes. (at 2 am, on a Sunday).
It’s in the middle of the morning on a Monday as I write this. If I set out for the airport right now I’d expect to arrive there, barring unforeseen circumstances) at about 2 pm.
Yep, 4 hours or so to go ~21 miles? Welcome to the Philippines guys and gals.
A small passenger car gasoline engine burns several gallons an hour just running and sitting still (idling). Ad the power needed by the air conditioner (which you are certainly going to be using) and you seriously might need to fill up the tank somewhere along a 4 or 5 hour trip, regardless of the miles involved.
A diesel, because of the way the entire combustion process is designed, wastes far less fuel at idle than an equivalent gasoline engine. And you WILL be idling a lot, trust me (me sircon doesn’t work unless the engine’s running, remember?)
So score big for a diesel car here.
Floods: Unless you happen to live in a different Philippines than I do, floods (in Filipino, “Baha“) are a given. Usually they don’t last long, but in many areas just a moderate afternoon thunderstorm can cause serious localized flooding. And it often happens with little or no warning.
It’s ALWAYS better and safer to avoid driving into flooded conditions, but there is often no choice.
A lot of things can go wrong when trying to drive through flooded areas, but one very common one is, with a gas engine car is, water splashes up and drowns out (shorts out) your ignition system. Moving along one second, then, BOOM, dead silence … little or no warning and, until you can get the ignition system dried out. How do you feel about wading?
Oh, and don’t sit there grinding away on the starter, not only is your car not going to start, but the expensive starter motor, located down at the bottom of the engine and thus almost certainly submerged, is going to e fired or otherwise seriously damaged when you send power to it by turning the key. There are no cheap auto supply stores on every other corner as in the USA, trust me, you don’t want to buy a new starter in the Philippines.
A Diesel HAS No Ignition System: As long as you don’t try to drive through water so deep that the air filter will suck up water into the engine, a diesel will chug away under water as calmly as if it were running in the sunshine on a dry lakebed. It’s the difference between “spark ignition” on a gasoline engine and “compression ignition” which is how diesels are designed and built.
I’ve been in water so deep with my little Adventure that when a bus passed me in traffic, pushing a bow wave, like a tug boat, my car would get light on the wheels and shift sideways … practically floating. Water came in through the bottom of the doors (needless to say, you only want rubber mats on the floor, never carpet) but the little Mitsubishi “clatter-box”four-cylinder engine just kept chugging along, passengers picked up their feet to avoid the wet floors, and we made it home safe and sound.
Anyway, that’s a few reasons Why You Want a Diesel in the Philippines.