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Coming Soon: A GM-Branded Diesel Car?

GM diesel engine

Watch out, Volkswagen—your ironclad grip on the diesel car market may be about to weaken. Autobloggreen reports that a GM-brand diesel passenger car is coming to the U.S. sometime in the near future.

GM Vice Chairman Tom Stephens delivered the information to the attendee's of this week's Directions in Engine-Efficiency and Emissions Research (DEER) conference in Detroit. According to Stephens, future GM diesels might be based on existing diesel powertrains manufactured by GM in other countries (i.e. under the Europe-based Opel brand). No other details have been revealed.

So why would GM go back to manufacturing diesel cars in the U.S. after a two-decade hiatus? Automakers like Volkswagen and Mercedes have proven that there is a fairly strong market for clean-burning diesel vehicles in the U.S. (20% of all Jettas sold are diesel-powered). And Tim Ellis, VW of America's Vice President of Marketing, recently explained to FastCompany that diesel is an interim technology between gasoline and electric vehicles. Many green-minded consumers might not be ready to shell out for the GM's extended-range hybrid Volt—the technology is too unfamiliar—but they might spring for a car that can run on cheap biofuels. That is, at least, what GM hopes.

Ariel Schwartz can be reached on Twitter or by email.

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  • Gerald Tobey

    Apparently GM hopes that they can make an engine that will run on a “homemade” type fuel, which is some sort of “cooked” waste vegetable oil that doesn’t have a hope of meeting any ASTM fuel testing standards. I would hope that GM could first make a diesel engine that would run on true petroleum #2 diesel fuel without major problems. Once they do that, the modification for certified biofuel would be the second step!

    They ultimately have high hopes that all of those who had a bad experience with the 1978-1984 GM diesels will have forgotten about them, or those folks died, and they’ll have a whole new group of people to market their new batch of “research & development project vehicles” to. Here we go again! GM will send the diesel vehicle market back to the "dark ages" once more, and maybe put a final nail in it's coffin in the US market!

  • E Ofstad

    The biggest difference between the modified car engines of the 70s and the current engine is the same as a model T and a 2011 mustang. If people would only be a little more accepting of the diesel and willing to maintain the fuel system. I have lived and died with the Ford light truck diesel engine since 1983 to the current years production. Ford had a two car version and 3 engines for the ranger, but were not accepted by the American customer. Europe very successfully uses small clean burning diesel power plants and Ford would import them if the capacity to manufacture them was available and people were willing to pay the premium engine price. As the fuel becomes less expensive, people will be more accepting. Here is an article on a local producer of bio diesel fuels who are developing a product with with PRIVATE funding, and will become a real player in the market. Read it and research the state of the art production.

  • Vic Williams

    They've done this before, with mods to gas engines, that later broke. This might explain the small war they entered into over selling/not-selling Opel.

  • Jjatkelly

    Diesel engines operate with much higher compression ratios. Converted gas engine blocks won't work, they need to be beefier. Diesel fuel should also be much less expensive than it currently is. The technology is not new, so R&D costs should really not come into play. If corporate greed can be reigned in a little, diesel power should be the way for the U.S. to pursue.

  • Chris Haughey

    With bio-diesel production on the rise, this makes perfect sense. However, if all of the cars smell like fast food or mexican food, what will it do to the waistlines of Americans?! I'm sure someone will file a lawsuit stating that the GM car caused them to put on weight.

  • Jjatkelly

    Good point! Maybe we need Congress to pass a slew of new laws to exempt auto makers from "fat" lawsuits :)