Volkswagen has taken a turn away from its grand diesel plan in the U.S. saying that it will cut back on its plans to develop engines for the market here in light of recent events; however, just as it’s planning to get out, one of its largest competitors is ramping up its diesel efforts.
The German maker said recently that it will focus on its electric vehicle program as a way to meet toughening emissions standards in the U.S. and less so on its diesels, which offered a triple threat of durability, improved emissions and fuel savings.
What will become of the diesel market in the U.S.? Fear not, General Motors has it covered. Mark Reuss, GM’s executive vice president of Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain, said recently the upcoming Chevrolet Cruze Diesel and the diesel program for Cadillac are still a go.
“The Cruze Diesel is too good not to do it,” he said, adding Cadillac is developing four- and six-cylinder turbodiesels mainly for the European market, although the engines are expected to be launched in the States as well.
GM’s diesel program is really taking off in two directions: cars and trucks. The turbodiesel coming for the Cruze in 2017 is the second generation of the engine as the current Cruze does offer 1.4-liter turbodiesel right now. While it offers a strong performance in terms of fuel economy, it accounts for just about 2% of sales.
(Germany orders first recall of VW diesels. For more, Click Here.)
However, the company is also bring a 2.8-liter four cylinder Duramax diesel to its midsize truck line-up. Anita Burke, chief engineer for GM’s midsize trucks, told TheDetroitBureau.com that to company expects get strong sales results with the diesel-powered version of the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon. GM’s expecting “on the order of” 10% of all sales will including the diesel.
Burke’s analysis isn’t out of line as analysts predicted diesel sales in the U.S. would reach 10% by 2018, and many are sticking to those predictions despite VW’s problem.
GM’s not alone in its plans to expand its diesel line-up. Mazda, Jaguar, Land Rover, Nissan, Jeep and Ram have all made major commitments to diesel technology. Until recently, diesel engines had been pretty much limited to a few German brands and the heavy-duty truck segment.
However, the new offerings from Chevy and GMC are not the only light-duty trucks capitalizing on improving diesel technology. Nissan is counting on a new 5.0-liter Cummins turbodiesel to help put its new Titan full-size trick back into the discussion in the segment.
(Click Here for details about Toyota’s plans to eliminate gas-powered cars by 2050.)
Thus far, it seems to be working as the 2016 Titan was named the “Truck of Texas” last week by the Texas Auto Writers Association, largely due to the performance of the diesel under the hood. The new Ram 1500 EcoDiesel is giving Fiat Chrysler a new offering in the full-size segment: an economical truck.
The Ram provides the best fuel economy of any truck in its portfolio, and depending upon what version of a truck one compares it with, it may be the most fuel-efficient truck in the full-size segment. The engine is so good, it’s rolled it over into its Jeep Grand Cherokee, where it was expected to account for less than 10% of sales, but it turned out to be so popular – about 15% of Grand Cherokees produced – the maker had to ramp up production of the engine.
While it is trucks that are likely to lead the way when it comes to increase diesel penetration in the U.S. – the combination of low-end, stump-pulling torque and as much as a 35% bump in fuel economy is too hard to ignore – it’s not just VW and GM looking at diesels for its cars.
(To see about VW’s plans for its diesel program, Click Here.)
Mercedes, BMW and Audi all offer diesel variants, but others are joining the parade, most notably Jaguar, which came out early in the VW diesel scandal to say it was sticking to its diesel guns and that it would have two diesel-powered models out by next year. Jaguar executives said it expects that as much as 15-20% of its U.S. sales to be diesels.