Failure would not be an option for a Cadillac diesel

Rick Kranz is product editor for Automotive News.

LOS ANGELES -- One of the most interesting revelations to come out of the Los Angeles Auto Show last week: Cadillac is thinking about selling a diesel-engine vehicle in the United States.

It should come as no surprise that General Motors’ luxury brand is doing so.

After all, some of Cadillac’s primary competitors -- Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz – market outstanding diesel powertrains. And then there’s that little issue of higher fuel-economy and lower emissions.

Don Butler, Cadillac’s marketing vice president, said during an interview at the show that a diesel engine was under consideration for vehicles sold outside the United States. He quickly added that a diesel engine “could be a potential hedge in the U.S. because of diesel’s great torque, great performance with great efficiency.”

Butler made it clear that Cadillac will do whatever it takes to compete with the imports -- including having competitive powertrains.

“We absolutely mean it when we say we aim to compete with the best of the best without compromises. And if that means making the right powertrain choices, then those are the choices we will have to make,” he continued.

Back in the 1980s, GM’s diesel engine was an embarrassing failure -- a reliability nightmare that severely tarnished the image of Oldsmobile and Cadillac.

This time around, failure is not an option.

Cadillac has a strong, attractive product line -- the SRX, CTS, Escalade and the 2013 ATS and XTS sedans that land in dealer showrooms next year.

What’s missing is a diesel. And if Cadillac does enter the diesel arena, the engine must be nothing less than world class. It cannot afford a mistake as it builds the Cadillac brand across the globe.

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