By on June 7, 2018

2017 GMC Canyon Duramax Diesel badge - Image: GM

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]

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9 Comments on “GM to Europe: Don’t Be so Down on Diesel...”

  • avatar

    I’m a big Diesel fan – have owned 2 TDI’s and a Duramax pickup. I’d love for Diesel to really make it big. However, it’s not going to happen. Europe has made up it’s collective mind that Diesel emissions are pure poison, and in the US our lousy Diesel Fuel standards (low lubricity, low Cetane, etc.) and incremental cost of ownership will guarantee they’ll be “niche” vehicles. Oh well.

  • avatar

    My last cruisers have all been diesel-powered, and I am a fan. Many European drivers are still enthusiastic about diesels, but it is the media and the politicians who are making the situation sound worse than it actually is.

    A modern EURO6d diesel is as clean as can be with current technology and the ever improving DPF technology. There will still be a market for diesel-powered cars in Europe, especially large luxury and large SUV cars, which are almost all diesel-powered. Without diesels, Europe cannot keep their CO2 targets down, which have already drastically risen thanks to a slump in diesel sales.

    We should not forget that modern direct-injection gasoline cars are also heavy polluters, especially in regards to toxic particulates. There are plans in the EU to equip gasoline-powered vehicles with particulate filters.

    • 0 avatar

      “…it is the media and the politicians who are making the situation sound worse than…”

      No, I’m quite sure it’s worse than you realize. You really have to do your own research if you care. First you have to set your fanboy diesel fetish aside, go a beyond what the media and politicians are spouting.

      Gasoline particulates aren’t nearly as damaging (to your health and environment) as diesel particulates, which wouldn’t need diesel type emissions to deal with.

      Many current new Euro diesels aren’t even equipped with “required” SCR (adblue) hardware, yet they’re totally approved.

      Your “current technology” Euro diesels emit up to 4 or 5 times the “legal limit” yet automakers aren’t “breaking” any laws.

      I’d explain it but it’s a complicated clusterfuk. But this should help:

      • 0 avatar

        EURO4 and EURO 5 diesels were legally compliant with the emissions requirements of the period.

        All EURO6+ diesels are now required to have SCRs and DPFs. And they are clean. Incredibly clean.

        My brother is the owner of a taxi business in Munich and the new Mercedes E-Klasse EURO6d diesels are incredibly sophisticated. They possess not only excellent NVH qualities but you cannot smell or see anything that comes out of the tailpipes.

        The EU would be better off banning laser printers and cigarette smoking, which emit far more toxic particulates than gasoline/diesel emissions. Yet somehow those two health-damaging vices are tolerated. The EU has set a limit for 50 micrograms of particulates on the streets and 900 micrograms of particulates for office spaces or living rooms. This does not make sense.

        • 0 avatar

          Yeah Euro4/Euro5 diesel cars were compliant for requirements of the period, but the same could be said of Euro3 cars, all the way to EuroZero. Yes there’s no such thing, but that’s basically 1991 for gasoline engines in Europe.

          Euro diesels are sketchy in their Euro6 compliance, even if “legal”, and that’s where things get crazy, bureaucratically speaking, and that’s why there’s a Euro6a through 6d. To help

          make sense of the madness. It’ll likely be 2020 or beyond, before all Euro diesels are in full “road test” emissions

          compliant, SCR/adblue, real world, etc.

          I can see why you don’t see things clearly, and without doing your own research you never will. As far as the citywide bans go, they’re not targeting Euro6 cars (yet) but it’d be best to ban all diesel cars eventually, unless truely “clean” starting with VW TDIs.

          But the most damaging particulates to the heart and lungs are the ones you can’t see nor smell. Even if what comes out of the tailpipe looks/smells perfectly clean, I wouldn’t trust it, especially in Europe.

  • avatar

    So Europe wants to ban diesel and gasoline vehicles. Good luck expanding nuclear power plants and rely even more on Russian natural gas for power generation to power EVs.

    How does one say “Dear Uncle Putin” in French and German?

  • avatar

    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.

  • avatar

    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.

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