GM plans to launch more diesel vehicles in U.S.

Steve Kiefer: "The Chevrolet Cruze diesel will be the first of many diesel-powered passenger cars General Motors will offer in the United States." Photo credit: Greg Horvath

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- General Motors will launch more cars and light trucks with diesel engines in the United States in the coming years.

Speaking today at the 2014 Management Briefing Seminars, Steve Kiefer, GM’s vice president of global powertrain, said diesels in cars and light trucks could grow to 10 percent of the market in the United States by 2020.

GM’s lone diesel car in North America, the Chevrolet Cruze, carries an EPA highway rating of 46 mpg and has met GM’s sales expectations. The only other diesel GM offers in the United States is the Duramax V-8 engine, optional in heavy-duty Chevrolet and GMC pickups.

The next diesel engine coming is slated for the 2016 model year, a 2.8-liter four-cylinder that will be available in the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon mid-sized pickups.

But more are coming, Kiefer said.

“The Chevrolet Cruze diesel will be the first of many diesel-powered passenger cars General Motors will offer in the United States,” Kiefer said.

Torque important

Though Kiefer did not name specific models under consideration for a diesel, he did drop a hint.

Torque, not horsepower, will be the more important measure of performance in the years ahead. Horsepower is a measurement of a vehicle’s top speed, while torque, important for pickups, is felt as the force of acceleration and the ability to pull heavy loads.

Light-duty versions of GM’s full-sized trucks, the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, are two likely candidates for a diesel engine. Chrysler’s Ram 1500 already offers a diesel engine and the highest fuel-economy rating ever given to a full-sized truck, 28 mpg on the highway.

Ford will launch the aluminum-bodied 2015 F-150 late this year and will offer an SFE or Super Fuel Economy model.

Kiefer said: “We will continue to introduce more diesels as appropriate and as the market accepts them.”

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