By on September 27, 2010

Thanks to a tweet from Ward’s Auto, we now know that GM Vice Chairman Tom Stevens has spilled the beans at the Directions in Engine-Efficiency and Emissions Research conference that a GM diesel passenger car is coming to the US.  What was notably missing is a nameplate. Your mission is to come up with which car it will be.


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60 Comments on “GM To Sell A Diesel Car In The US – B&B: Which One Will It Be?...”

  • avatar

    Buick Regal, to compete with Audi/BMW diesels, and since a Diesel already exists for the Insignia, it would probably be an easy transition if the emissions hit their mark.


  • avatar

    Not going to happen.

  • avatar

    If it is a GM passenger car than the Cruze seems the most likely candidate.  The 1.8L base engine is God awful and should just be dropped.  The 1.4L Turbo 4 is a solid mill with good MPG.  Rumors of a SS version coming back to life, and all that glorious room in the engine bay of the Cruze screams ECOTEC 2.0 DI turbo 4.  The Cruze would benefit from the MPG beneifts of a diesel with a three engine line up of the 1.4L turbo 4, a diesel, and a 2.0L ECOTEC DI turbo 4.
    The other one that comes to mind is the Regal.  They’re going after the Euro buyers in that space, and there are plenty of groans over the 2.4L offering under the hood (ya I know ECOTEC 2.0 DI turbo 4 is coming).  That could be an interesting car with a diesel under the hood and Europe already gets a diesel in the Opel offering, seems like a no brainer. Further, Lexus who Buick claims to be chasing doesn’t offer a diesel, so it become something on the marketing checklist.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Wonder if the new GM diesel will be as good as the last one.

    “Oldsmobile’s engines, the 5.7 L LF9 and 4.3 L LF7 V8s and the 4.3 L V6, were notoriously unreliable. Although over one million were sold from 1978-1985, the failure rate of GM’s engines ruined the reputation of diesel engines in general in the United States market. Eventually, a class action lawsuit resulted in an arbitration system under the supervision of the Federal Trade Commission where consumers could claim 80% of the original cost of the engine in the event of a failure.”

    • 0 avatar

      If it’s anything like the Olds 5.7L diesel they can call it the ‘Chevrolet Grenade’.
      Maybe they can combine it with the execrable ‘V8-6-4’ technology and the Vega’s rustproofing and make it a Greatest Hits package of GM 1970s engineering.

    • 0 avatar

      The Audi diesels didn’t help. I remember people giving Audi diesel drivers the finger because of the gouts of smoke they emitted when climbing steep hills.

    • 0 avatar

      Why does every post that includes “GM” and”diesel” invariably have a comment like the one above?  Never mind that that those engines were designed over 30 years ago, and that GM has many modern diesel engines for sale elsewhere around the world, and that there is absolutely no reason to think that GM’s diesel engine technology wouldn’t advance when its technology for everything else has.  Yet somebody always brings up the late 1970s diesels, as if the world has stood still since then.  I don’t get it.

    • 0 avatar

      Perhaps that person never looks at the GM UK or Ford UK websites to see what their favorite American brands are selling in the rest of the world. Maybe their only understanding of the state of the automotive business is what they here down at the farmer’s co-op. Maybe they never read anything but the articles on American style trucks, vans, muscle cars and SUVs. I’ve met people like this. Conversation with them doesn’t go very far. They probably think VW still puts all their engines in the back end of the cars.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    GM, in its pre-BK life, teased me with a diesel engine for their light-duty trucks. Lighter, more fuel-efficient, and with more torque than their V8 petrol-drinker.

    Best of all, it was done. Ready for application. A truck market game-changer, they promised.

    Then GM killed it while in the throes of government takeover.

    If I get a vote (and I don’t), I say they dig this engine out of mothballs and stick it into Silverado/Sierra 1500 pickups. Then into Yukon/Tahoe.

    That, I’d buy. A diesel Buick? Nevermind.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree.  After all the baiting about a 1/2 ton truck diesel, I won’t believe anything until they actually put in on sale.
      That said, if there is actually a diesel car coming to market, I think it will be something that directly competes with the Jetta TDI.  So probably Cruze or Malibu.

    • 0 avatar

      It wasn’t done.  It was designed.
      The factory tooled up to build 500 per shift was nowhere to be seen.

    • 0 avatar

      What?!  They axed the diesel 1/2 ton plan?!  Damn it!  GM, as a company policy, seems completely adverse to following through with good ideas.  One could probably make one’s self a fortune running a car company on scrapped GM ideas alone. 

  • avatar

    Buick Regal seems more likely than Cruze to me.

  • avatar

    If I had to guess based on marketing only (I’m pleading ignorance on engine bay fitment) I’d say the Cruze and/or the Malibu.  American’s in near-luxury vehicles generally don’t seem to give a damn about gas milage, at least not enough to trade off a gas V6 with fair mileage for a diesel.

  • avatar

    I’m going out on a limb and say Volt.  Perfect application for a small diesel (vs. a large application like a locomotive….).

  • avatar

    GM and Diesel are kind of mutual exclusive.
    Is better to stay with benzenes.
    So many good dsl engines out there, or just buy the Mahindra’s dsl eng.
    Even Toyotas dsl eng are beyond reproach.

  • avatar

    They never did put the small diesel in their trucks right?
    Moving along…

  • avatar

    The Buick “Hope” and the Cadillac “Pray”.
    In any event, buying any GM diesel would be the absolute triumph of hope over experience.

  • avatar

    Please GM, don’t do it! VW, Mercedes and BMW have come so far with modern passenger car turbo diesel technology. Please don’t wreck it again for the current generation. What’s that, you’ll be bankrupt and dead for good before it ever shows up in a production car? Tremendous!

  • avatar

    Whatever it is, it will be relatively low-volume and it won’t last long on the market.  Diesels are expensive to buy and expensive to maintain.  Plus, the fuel itself is usually more expensive.  There’s no upside for most buyers.

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      A good many VW diesel owners, including myself, will disagree with that.
      The fuel price situation is subject to local conditions. Here, diesel is about the same price as regular gasoline (currently around $1.00 per litre).
      My previous VW diesel had 462,000 km on it when I sold it (to someone who was going to keep driving it – not to a junkyard!). My current one is at 295,000 km. Never had to do anything outside of regular scheduled maintenance on either one. Yes, you have to use a special engine oil that costs more than cheap 10w30 at the local quickie lube, but you only have to change it every 16,000 km, so the cost is a wash and the aggravation factor is much better. My vehicles get maintained “by the book” – one thing that is true, is that diesels won’t tolerate neglect. Gasoline engines won’t, either, but people don’t seem to be too upset when a gasoline vehicle is scrapped at 200,000 km. For me, that’s just when it’s broken in.

    • 0 avatar

      Ditto, that. I’ve had every A4-platform problem known to the interwebs with my Y2K Bug (TDI New Beetle, 187K miles to date), but the engine has pretty much been the most reliable part of the car (except when I let the Dealer do the timing belt service – learned my lesson there, I did).
      45mpg vs. mid 20s for a comparable petrol model is quite more than enough of a difference to swallow the higher diesel prices in our area (Middle West).

  • avatar

    How are they going to do it this time?  Take the Volt’s electric motor and modify it to burn diesel?

  • avatar
    M. Ellis

    My late father, in his ongoing habit of buying bad american vehicles, purchased that exact wagon (minus the fake wood and in a darker shade of blue).  It was a dog.  The main thing I remember is that he opted for the 8-track tape stereo at a time when everyone else was going cassette, but otherwise it was smelly, ugly, and prone to dying when you least expected it.  The last I heard of the car, it was abandoned in a corporate parking lot in Teterboro, NJ, back in the late 80s.

    To be fair, the Buick Electra he bought in ’84 or ’85 wasn’t so awful, or at least I have fairly good memories of the car.  The Corsica he bought for my mother in the early 90s (instead of the new Camry) was awful. She replaced it with a Subaru a few years later, and has been happily driving Subarus ever since.  (She puts snows on them every winter, and happily trundles around the mountains in Colorado in weather that would terrify a snowplow driver.)

    Other than that Electra, he bought a used 1980 Jeep (Grand) Wagoneer that I drove through high school that I’m somewhat fond of, but lord it was a piece of junk, and a 1974 Toyota Corona hatchback that I dearly loved and learned to drive on, but it rusted out pretty badly, and in the mid 80s and we got rid of it just after I’d learned to drive.  Great car to learn stick on, but it’s left me with a taste for notchy manuals. (When I bought my first car, it was a 1993 Probe GT, and I liked it more than the Integra at the time because of the stick. Go figure.)

    After vowing never to buy another domestic (bad experiences with the Probe and my wife’s inherited Sable), I find it strange to be considering things like the Fusion and the current generation Buicks.

  • avatar

    Next Aveo or even better – Chevy Spark *ROFL*

  • avatar

    It will be an engine that has been proven in Europe.  Even GM is not stupid enough to F it up again.
    I assume it will be put into the Buick Insignia (oops Regal) and probably into the Cadillac SRX, too.  Both are GM Europe derived so it just makes sense.

    • 0 avatar

      >>>><Even GM is not stupid enough to F it up again.
      Great slogan.
      Not as catchy as “The Ultimate Driving Machine”, but “Even GM is not stupid enough to F it up again” is as apt to GM as the former was to BMW.

  • avatar

    Plus, there is probably some loophole in the CAFE standards that allows US companies to skirt the numbers if they offer hybrid, clean diesel, electrics in their line-ups.

  • avatar

    The 84 Suburban diesel I had for a short time was a crapbox. At 100,000 miles the transmission leaked like a sieve and the Olds diesel would overheat at any speed over 60 mph, not that it could easily reach that speed! The fastest I could get it to go was 75. The few positives about it was that I’d get 23 mpg on a trip, it could haul anything I wanted it to, and that the A/C still worked.  If someone started tailgating me, I’d just smash the throttle and smoke them until they backed off.  I was, after all, trying to go faster!

  • avatar

    Wasn’t there an 80s model Chevy LUV pickup with a diesel?
    That was an Isuzu diesel 4 cyl

  • avatar

    I’d have to agree that Regal or Cruze are the top candidates. As far as GM developing a new diesel, I did hear scuttlebut of an all new 10 cylinder diesel for light duty truck applications. Alas, that is no longer the case. Only diesel in GM’s lineup is the best in class Duramax Diesel found in 3/4 and 1 ton trucks.

  • avatar

    Whatever vehicle it is in, I won’t be buying any for at least 3 years after intro. Back in the day when I was still pulling wrenches for a living I got to the point where I could pull a Chevy 1/2 ton with an ailing 5.7 into my bay at 8 am and drive it out completed with a replacement crate engine by 4 pm, without skipping lunch. That included changing over all accessories, brackets and all the little things that go with engine changes. Practice makes perfect and we got a lot of practice. The government agency I worked for at the time had several hundred of these units and the rumour was that by 1986 not one was running on it’s original engine. That was along time ago, but I still think I will wait and see.

  • avatar

    This shouldn’t be hard to make work reliably since GM already as turbo diesel cars selling all over the world – as usual – everywhere but here in the land of the free USA.

  • avatar

    It depends.

    It depends on what kind of diesel.
    If turbo’d and lots of quickness, maybe a smaller car.
    But they don’t have a fun little car to match the Audi A3 or Golf diesles now.

    If just for MPG and torque, one of their smaller Utes…like the Terrain or Equinox.

    Personally, if GM doesn’t do something, Ford is going to kick their ass with the ecoboosted engines coming along the entire line this next year.
    The new Fiesta, Explorer and next the Focus and soon the Kuga…all with ecoboost.
    Please, what does anybody have to match these hot engines?????

    • 0 avatar
      Dr Strangelove

      Please, what does anybody have to match these hot engines?????

      Everybody sells engines that are just as good in Europe – they just don’t bring them here. Cost and maybe crappy fuel.

  • avatar

    That oil-burning Cutlass is pretty unimpressive considering that a few years later, you could get the same or better EPA numbers with a fairly bulletproof fuel injected V6 in the A-body FWD Cutlass and Century wagons.  Had GM spent all the money wasted on the diesel program instead on installing electronic fuel injection across all engine lines several years sooner, there might still be such a thing as a Cutlass today.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    If GM is serious, it will be a Chevrolet. Otherwise, who cares?

  • avatar

    Another GM diesel car would only be a good idea if the dealership placed a “Diesel for Dummies” book in the glove box.

  • avatar

    the logical choice would be the Regal, probably in wagon format, since that’s a very popular style with the VW TDI cultists. The interesting thing will be to see in GM picks up on VW’s miss and makes sure a euro import diesel will live on US spec fuel. The US wear scar spec is more abrasive than the the Euro one. I want to say it’s on the order of about 25% more abrasive, so major fuel system revisions may be needed. In any event, diesel is kinda dead. The technology is good, but the EPA has effectively killed it. Take some time and look at what VW had to do to get the TDI motors to pass the current emissions requirements. It’s like Rube Goldberg had an apoplectic fit from radiator to tail pipe under the car. Not interested in having a $2000 revese flow canooter valve replaced 6 months out of warranty, thankyouverymuch.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m still having a hard time associating GM with logical choices.  It’ll be a halo car at first, and GM already knows what happens to the pricing of those, after the Volt. They may as well make it a Caddy.  I vote for Cadillac STD.

    • 0 avatar

      If GM is aiming to court VW TDI fans, they’re kidding themselves. That’s at best phase II of this, if not III….

      My guess is this is all about hitting the new CAFE standards recently passed, no? I don’t see enough traction around Buick to make it the Regal – that’s a struggling brand no matter how well they make cars (and they’re nicer of late – but other than on car sites like this and magazines, who is talking about Buick?). My money is on the Cruze, which is getting buzz, and when they put the aforementioned turbo diesel in it, it could further their competitiveness and help on their CAFE obligations. After that, I’d probably be more inclined to think they’ll put them in the trucks and SUV’s, again, to help their CAFE rankings.

  • avatar

    @JoeAverage: Very true – I can’t waste my time with that —
    “Had me one o ‘dem Chivee Maliblues, a ’76 I think. Doggone thing never did run right. Switched to Hondas after that POS blew up on a family fishin’ trip. Neighbor had an Olds 88 diesel, even worse. Now they’re gonna put a diesel in a Maliblue? No sir, u’ll never git me buyin’ a car from Guvmint Motors.”

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