DETROIT -- General Motors is considering diesel engines as an option on some models of its next-generation SUVs, GM's top truck executive says.
Gary White, GM vice president and vehicle line executive for full-sized trucks, says GM is mulling alternative fuels for SUVs built on its GMT 900 architecture due next year.
"Diesels certainly would be considered a viable option sometime during the life cycle of this truck," White says. "We've got some pretty aggressive emission standards coming, and when you move those into the SUV category, the emissions are even more stringent. We've got to balance that and look at capacity and workload."
The EPA's emissions standards for light vehicles will be fully phased in by 2007. The standards make no distinction between gasoline and diesel engines. In other words, a diesel engine must run as cleanly as a gasoline engine.
GM now offers diesel engines on its pickups and vans but not on its full-sized SUVs, except the Hummer H1.
With improvements in design and the addition of cylinder deactivation, GM says its next-generation SUVs, including the 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe, will be the first large SUVs to be rated over 20 mpg in combined city and highway driving. That would exceed current versions of the Toyota Sequoia and Nissan Armada. A 2005 two- and four-wheel-drive Sequoia has a combined rating of 16 mpg, and a 2005 two- and four-wheel-drive Armada achieves a combined rating of 15 mpg, according to the EPA.
As part of its launch, GM also will advertise the benefits of its flex-fuel vehicles that are capable of burning E85 - a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline - or gasoline or a blend of the two, says Mark LaNeve, GM's vice president of GM North America vehicle sales, service and marketing. GM will let buyers know a vehicle is capable of running E85 by adding a yellow fuel cap.
GM has 1.3 million flex-fuel vehicles that can use E85, but there are fewer than 500 filling stations nationwide that carry it. Next year GM will build about 400,000 flex-fuel vehicles.
You may e-mail Jason Stein at