GM to Europe: Don't Be so Down on Diesel

gm to europe dont be so down on diesel

Even though General Motors gleefully offloaded its European division to the French, it still maintains a slight presence in the region. A powertrain engineering center in Turin, Italy remains in the GM fold, which gave the automaker an opportunity to dish on a much-maligned propulsion source: diesel fuel.

Hey, this stuff’s still useful, the automaker’s CEO of global diesel development, Pierpaolo Antonioli, told an uncertain European crowd this week.

Sure, Volkswagen opened regulators’ (and the public’s) eyes to emissions manipulations and the real-world impact of widespread diesel use, but that doesn’t mean high-torque compression ignition engines should hit the trash, Antonioli said.

Speaking at a panel discussion at the Automotive News Europe Congress in Turin, Antonioli said new technology could turn everyone’s frown upside down. Fewer emissions for the environmentalists, efficiency for consumers, and long ranges and pulling power for automakers.

“Internal combustion engines, including the diesel, can still play a role for the next years to come,” the executive said, even as European cities prepare to outlaw diesel engines in certain areas (with full internal combustion bans looming beyond the horizon). Germany’s already given the green light to cities to ban diesel vehicles with impunity.

“Bosch said just a few weeks ago that they can already achieve very low emissions, especially from NOx, without increasing the cost of the combustion system,” he added.

Robert Bosch GmbH, which was implicated in the VW diesel affair, claims its technology could reduce harmful nitrogen oxide emissions — the key ingredient in smog — to just one-tenth of the levels permitted under Europe’s ultra-stringent Euro 6 standard. It can do it, Bosch says, without too much extraneous hardware. No production vehicle currently carries Bosch’s new system.

Even as diesel’s European popularity falls faster than a close talker at an office party, GM sees niche roles for the technology in its American offerings — roles, at least in the truck space, that aren’t likely to change anytime soon. The diesel Chevrolet Cruze remains on the market, as does sparkless variants of the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain (not to mention the Duramax-powered Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon). The automaker’s revamped full-size pickups, which appear on dealer lots this year, will come with the option of a 3.0-liter inline-six diesel produced in Flint, Michigan.

[Image: General Motors]

Join the conversation
2 of 9 comments
  • Conundrum Conundrum on Jun 07, 2018

    We have this here new inline 6 diesel to flog. Spent millions developing it. Of course diesel has a future! You Europeans are crying wolf. Arooooooo! GM for the win! The practical matter of it is that injecting enough urea into the exhaust will get rid of NOx. Enough references around on that. Gooogeable. It's a chemical reaction that produces innocuous products. All this cheating came about because nobody wanted to incorporate big enough urea tanks into cars, nor provide a sales impediment that might turn off the average owner. And of course the Germans wanted to sell cheap as pisse urea as Ad Blue abd make a fortune on the side. Back when the VW diesel thing went nuts in Sept 2015, there was a report from Leeds University in the UK about their roadside NOx testing. Cars, diesel cars, but cars nevertheless had up to 20 times more NOx than diesel buses and trucks, which slurp up urea due to bigger tanks. All the other obfuscation we've been treated to since ignores this simple fact. Much like politics, the human brain latches on to the first thing it hears that agrees with its preconceived notions, and the stage is set for the BS to fly. Throw away logic and barf out nonsense, the human condition since time immemorial. We all love our generalizations and old wives tales. Look at the homeopathic "remedies" in drug stores - if any of them worked, nobody would ever get ill.

  • Voyager Voyager on Jun 09, 2018

    Europe to GM: make great-looking cars with superior fit, finish, fuel efficiency and performance you can actually sell and export to Europe... instead of having Trump come down on European import cars to cover your ass.

  • Islander800 That is the best 20-year-on update of the Honda Element that I've ever seen. Strip out the extraneous modern electronic crap that adds tens of thousands to the price and the completely unnecessary 400 pd/ft torque and horse power, and you have a 2022 Honda Element - right down to the neoprene interior "elements" of the Element - minus the very useful rear-hinged rear doors. The proportions and dimensions are identical.Call me biased, but I still drive my west coast 2004 Element, at 65K miles. Properly maintained, it will last another 20 years....Great job, Range Rover!
  • Dennis Howerton Nice article, Corey. Makes me wish I had bought Festivas when they were being produced. Kia made them until the line was discontinued, but Kia evidently used some of the technology to make the Rio. Pictures of the interior look a lot like my Rio's interior, and the 1.5 liter engine is from Mazda while Ford made the automatic transmission in the used 2002 Rio I've been driving since 2006. I might add the Rio is also an excellent subcompact people mover.
  • Sgeffe Bronco looks with JLR “reliability!”What’s not to like?!
  • FreedMike Back in the '70s, the one thing keeping consumers from buying more Datsuns was styling - these guys were bringing over some of the ugliest product imaginable. Remember the F10? As hard as I try to blot that rolling aberration from my memory, it comes back. So the name change to Nissan made sense, and happened right as they started bringing over good-looking product (like the Maxima that will be featured in this series). They made a pretty clean break.
  • Flowerplough Liability - Autonomous vehicles must be programmed to make life-ending decisions, and who wants to risk that? Hit the moose or dive into the steep grassy ditch? Ram the sudden pile up that is occurring mere feet in front of the bumper or scan the oncoming lane and swing left? Ram the rogue machine that suddenly swung into my lane, head on, or hop up onto the sidewalk and maybe bump a pedestrian? With no driver involved, Ford/Volkswagen or GM or whomever will bear full responsibility and, in America, be ambulance-chaser sued into bankruptcy and extinction in well under a decade. Or maybe the yuge corporations will get special, good-faith, immunity laws, nation-wide? Yeah, that's the ticket.