GM plans diesel cars in U.S.
GM confirmed it will use the fuel-saving diesel engine on U.S. passenger cars, crossovers and light-duty trucks during a video blog by Vice Chairman Bob Lutz on GM's Web site, http://fastlane.gmblogs.com
GM sources say the automaker will show a diesel engine at the Frankfurt auto show in September on an Opel e-flex. In GM's e-flex powertrain, a traditional engine such as a diesel or gasoline engine, recharges a battery pack that provides power for an electric motor.
GM will show the same variant at the Detroit auto show in January on a Saturn, most likely the Aura sedan. GM showed off the e-flex system on the Chevrolet Volt concept car at the Detroit auto show this year.
"It'll end up in a Cadillac, and there will be a front-wheel-drive version of the engine in 2009 or 2010 calendar year," says a source familiar with the program. "It's an Epsilon (mid-sized car) based product."
The source said the diesel will go in the Vectra in 2008 and will come to the United States as a Saturn for the next generation Aura if all goes as planned.
Lutz cautioned that the diesel engine is not a panacea for upcoming stiffer corporate average fuel economy standards.
Says Lutz: "There's a lot of hype on diesels right now. It's not going to be a 50-state solution. It's going to be minus California and minus what other states adopt California standards."
But he said GM is charging ahead with diesels and that it will be one way GM will boost fuel economy: "We're doing a bunch of them right now. We will be introducing diesel passenger cars in the U.S. We are going to have a V-6 diesel engine for passenger cars, crossovers and light trucks."
A spokesman for GM confirms what Lutz said in his video blog, saying that diesels are in GM's European products because European regulations are more receptive to diesels.
"Getting those engines to be compliant in the U.S. is a matter of cost and emissions compliance," says Chris Preuss, GM spokesman. "How we can market those in the U.S. is still a question, but we still see diesel having some limited role in the U.S. in the next couple of years."
GM has at least two diesel engines under development. A 4.5-liter V-8 is due in 2010 for light-duty pickups and SUVs. The other engine is a 2.9-liter V-6 being developed with Italy's VM Motori S.p.A.. The V-6 will be launched in Europe in the 2009 Cadillac CTS, which will later appear in the United States.
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