| General Information

This year, the diesel engine turns 120 years old and our fleet fuel card company takes a look at what’s happened since its invention:

It was back in the early 1890s that Rudolf Diesel created his revolutionary diesel engine. A few years later, in 1897, he had a patent for it and Moritz Schröter, a professor of theoretical engineering, conducted the official certification test for it. What he found was that the engine, which weighed 4.5 metric tons, produced 18 horsepower and a net efficiency of 26 percent (35 percent thermal, 75 percent mechanical).

Powering Larger Machinery

At that time, the diesel engine was nearly twice as efficient as its gasoline-powered counterpart but even with such a great feat, the diesel engine didn’t see immediate popularity. In fact, it wasn’t until 1911 that the engine was first used to power ocean freighters and it wasn’t until after World War I that it was widely used for shipping.

Diesel’s initial idea was for his engine to be created in a smaller version and used by smaller businesses but instead, it grew vastly in the world of agriculture equipment, cargo ships, freight trains, and trucks. The engine became known as what powered larger machinery.

The World of Passenger Cars

In 1936, Mercedes-Benz made the first diesel engine-powered car – the 260D. After that, many other manufacturers began creating their own diesel vehicles including General Motors, Volvo, and Peugeot. Most of these vehicles were very large but as time continued, the engine size was adapted to the changing size of passenger cars.

Even after 120 years, today’s diesel engine is still more efficient than the gasoline engine by up to 20 percent. While diesel cars are more popular in Europe and India than here in the U.S., they’re becoming more of a considerable option for many car shoppers.

Would you ever own a diesel-powered car instead of a gasoline-powered car?