NEW YORK -- Diesel engines, hybrid powertrains and high-geared transmissions are all on the table over the next few years for General Motors' soon-to-launch redesigned large SUVs, GM's top truck engineer said.
"We've got some interesting powertrain technologies coming on the SUVs over the next few years," Jeff Luke, executive chief engineer for GM trucks, said at an event here last week to introduce the 2015 Cadillac Escalade.
The next-generation Escalade and the extended ESV model, which share a platform with the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban and the GMC Yukon and Yukon XL, are scheduled to be launched in the first quarter. During the eight years since the last redesign, GM did little beyond cosmetic enhancements to keep the SUVs fresh.
"In this segment, the competition is tough," Luke said of the luxury SUV market in which the Escalade competes. "You've got to raise the bar."
Luke hinted that a higher-geared transmission eventually would replace the Escalade's carryover six-speed that will be used when it is launched. GM is working on a rear-wheel-drive eight-speed transmission and a rwd 10-speed.
He said GM is considering a hybrid, even though the hybrid model on the current-generation Escalade was phased out for the 2014 model year after years of weak sales. GM also is "considering" a diesel engine, although he didn't say which of the SUVs, if any, would get one.
"Grand Cherokee is doing it," Luke said of Jeep's recently launched V-6 diesel SUV. "We're watching."