By on September 15, 2018

It’s looking increasingly like the compression ignition engine won’t get an opportunity to redeem itself at Cadillac. After making diesel a dirty word in the early 1980s with the help of Oldsmobile’s cantankerous, oil-burning 5.7-liter V8, GM’s luxury arm dived back into diesel development towards the end of the last decade. A recession and bankruptcy put the kibosh on those outsourced plans.

Then, in 2014, happier economic times brought about a renewed interest in the pursuit of diesel. Cadillac hoped to woo MPG-loving Europeans by outfitting new sedan models with diesel powerplants developed in-house. Americans would get a taste, too.

Scratch that, says Cadillac president Steve Carlisle. 

Speaking to Automotive News, the brand’s head honcho, who took over from a deposed Johan de Nysschen in April, says Cadillac is having second thoughts about diesel. Blame newfound scrutiny from regulators and the tarring and feathering of the fuel by European lawmakers — the same people who, just a few years earlier, incentivized its use.

“We have been working on diesel, but the markets may be changing more quickly than we anticipated,” Carlisle said. “Going forward, we will focus on electrification.”

The Cadillac boss stopped short of saying the program’s scrapped. Frankly, it’s odd the program made it this far. It was only a year old when Volkswagen’s diesel debacle made headlines in 2015. Cadillac’s parent offloaded Opel, a key engine development partner, in 2017. The tea leaves weren’t exactly promising smooth sailing in the years ahead, yet Cadillac pressed on, hoping to offer four- and six-cylinder diesels in a variety of models, including the just-launched XT4 crossover.

The plunging market share of diesel in Europe, further vehicle emissions tightening, and a German court ruling allowing cities to ban oil-burning vehicles have probably made things too bleak to continue. Back in January, de Nysschen was busy pouring cold water on plans for a diesel-fueled entry into the European market.

“If we want to be successful in Europe, we have to have the product – smaller cars and crossovers with the right propulsion systems,” de Nysschen told Wards Auto.  “If we went to Europe now and wanted to be successful, we would have to invest in developing a family of diesel engines, which would be insane because they would have a very limited lifespan. It would make no sense.”

One wonders how far the program progressed.

In the U.S., diesel faces calmer waters. Fiat Chrysler still offers the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 (after getting itself in deep EPA trouble not long ago ago), and Ford and GM have light-duty diesel 3.0-liter six-cylinders on the way. There’s also 1.6-liter and 2.8-liter diesels on offer in smaller GM cars, crossovers, and mid-sized trucks.

Carlisle believes diesel still has a place in modern world, especially in trucks, and will for many years to come. Whether this is enough to keep the program alive remains to be seen.

[Image: General Motors]

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50 Comments on “Cadillac’s Hazy Diesel Engine Program Tentatively Bites the Dust...”


  • avatar
    jalop1991

    Awww, I wanted to see the Cadillac V8-6-4 diesel.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “especially in trucks”

    Only in trucks.

    • 0 avatar
      ernest

      +1. There’s a market for diesels… but not in a Cadillac SUV. If anyone absolutely needs to know how the almost announced V6 diesel drove, just drive a RAM 1500 with the VM ecodiesel. It was designed for Cadillac.

      • 0 avatar
        Austin Greene

        Fake News:

        1) The Cadillac V6 diesel was a 2.9 displacement. It was NOT the same engine as the Ram 3.0.

        2) The T1XX Escalade will be available with the 3.0 Duramax.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          Austin,
          From my recollection the VM V6 fitted to FCA vehicles was originally designed specifically for Caddy when GM had a big stake in VM. That’s why the 2.8 VM design is fitted to the Colorado.

          • 0 avatar
            Austin Greene

            Again, this is factually incorrect.

            The FCA engine is the A 630 2,987cc displacement.

            The Cadillac engine was the RA 629 2,935cc displacement.

            NOT the same engine.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            Austin,
            Incorrect. The ORIGINAL Caddy V6 diesel never made it as it was an incomplete design.

            Development was financed and completed by VM.

            ……………………………………….
            Cut and Paste from link below;
            “It started back when General Motors purchased 50 percent of Italian engine maker VM Motori in July 2007. Not long after came the announcement that GM and VM Motori were collaborating on a 2.9-liter turbodiesel V6 engine for the European version of the Cadillac CTS, which was to be launched in 2009. As many will not soon forget, GM declared bankruptcy that summer, derailing the plans for a diesel CTS in Europe, among other things. Meanwhile, VM continued developing the engine, but it was never used in a GM vehicle. Sadly.”

            ………………………………………..

            Read more: http://gmauthority.com/blog/2013/07/fiat-chrysler-3-0l-diesel-v6-is-actually-a-gm-engine/#ixzz5RFKtympd

            http://gmauthority.com/blog/2013/07/fiat-chrysler-3-0l-diesel-v6-is-actually-a-gm-engine/

          • 0 avatar
            ernest

            Thanks for bringing this up. Hey- we agree on something!

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      ajla,
      I have to agree with you. But a small diesel works well for small long distance vehicles. Gas is best for short runs.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    Uhm,excuse me…but did you Caddy guys forget about Duramax? That powerful,proven diesel already in your stable?

    –By the way, Europeans are never going to buy Cadillacs in big numbers….kill that thought with compression-ignited fire!

  • avatar
    gasser

    The whole idea of diesels in cars eludes me. I had a MBZ diesel in 1983. The mileage was probably 40-50% better than what ICE offered. The emissions control was minimal and the upkeep wasn’t a big deal. Now many gas engines approach diesel highway mileage ratings, but at the cost of lots of extra plumbing under the hood and more service needs.
    If you need the torque of a diesel in a truck, fine. I just don’t see the cost/ performance advantages in a car.

    • 0 avatar
      Jagboi

      You need to drive a modern European diesel in Europe then. Same performance as a gasoline engine and uses half the fuel.

    • 0 avatar
      bking12762

      I do believe diesel engines are ICE.

    • 0 avatar
      ThomasSchiffer

      A modern diesel is a joy to drive for long distances and at higher speeds. I live in Germany and I generally average close to or over 40,000 km a year so my cruising cars have always been diesel-powered. Diesels are ideal for me offering long ranges even at sustained high speed cruising.

      Until last year I drove a 2007 Audi A4 2.0 TDI Avant (140-horsepower, FWD and manual transmission) which averaged 6.2 liters of diesel every 100 km under normal, mixed driving conditions. At sustained high speeds (top speed was 210 kph) on the Autobahn the car would on average only consume 10 to 11 liters of diesel while still offering a driving range a little over 700 km. These are excellent values and that is the allure of a diesel, at least to me. I can speed and my fuel economy, relative to my speeding, is still tolerable. This means, I can speed from Munich to Hamburg on a single tank of diesel, the keyword being ‘speed’.

      With a gasoline-powered vehicle and a 70/80 liter fuel tank (my Audi had a 70 liter tank) , the same Munich-Hamburg scenario would result in them having to refuel twice, perhaps even thrice.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Everything I predicted about Cadillac has come true – AND –

    – the macro prediction about China’s domestic vehicle market and sales trend there, which GM and particularly, Cadillac and Buick, were hanging their hats on in order to avoid missing sales projections – let alone missing big – that I boldly made 2 years ago, is now coming true.

    Cadillac, Buick and GM are going to see global sales miss big for as long as the next 3 years as China enters a deep, pernicious contraction (as it is, GM vehicle ATPs are much lower in China than the U.S., which aren’t even good in what has been a white hot market – cooling fast now – anyways).

    The “bet the house on China” strategy that the MORON EXECUTIVES AT BAILED-OUT GENERAL-GUANGZHOU-GUADALAJARA MOTORS (GGGM) undertook is backfiring already and will do so in much more spectacular manner in short order.

    But at least Shanghai Automotive, a literal State Owned Enterprise of the PROC, and mandated joint venture partner of GM, has been allowed to steal 50 years worth of AMERICAN PROPRIETARY INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY IN THE SPATE OF A DECADE, including much that has other applications, including military ones, so they can continue their unabated buildup in terms of their future economy and military augmentation -‘all thanks to the sell-out American Politicians (most corrupt, seditious people on earth along with GM execs, and cheap to buy off) and sell-out “American Corporations” such as BAILED-OUT GENERAL-GUANGZHOU-GUADALAJARA MOTORS (GGGM).

    • 0 avatar
      deanst

      For someone who speaks so critically of GM, I’m surprised you think their intellectual property from 50 years ago is so valuable.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        ” surprised you think their intellectual property from 50 years ago is so valuable.”

        GM’s contribution to the global auto industry over the past 100+ years has been enormous.

        It wasn’t always good, but it often served to remind other manufacturers how NOT to do it. Plenty of lessons-learned from GM’s mistakes. Fewer lessons-learned from GM’s successes.

        The greatest contributions to the global auto industry came from German manufacturers and engineering, especially AFTER the end of WWII.

        All other automakers copied their (the German) stuff, even GM, Ford and (back then) Chrysler.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Deadweight,
      Much of the IP issue is really a non issue.

      Where I work we had an IP issue with a large engine manufacturer. Why? Because we used blocks of wood to support the rear of engines when stored. The manufacturer stated we must used there expensive “chocks” to support the engines.

      So 98% of this IP crap is just that …. BS by a company forcing its wares unnecessarily.

    • 0 avatar
      Peter Gazis

      I can’t wait to see these Buick Encore and Envision based military vehicles.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    p.s. – The POS Cadillac “Flagship” CT6 is absolutely floundering, just as I predicted, even by the relative standards if other large sedans priced and marketed similarly.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Just imagine how much money GM invested into this.

    If I, with no background in business were given the amount of money GM has put into Cadillac over the past 8 years I can guarantee Cadillac would be doing better. I’m not going to say it would be a BMW sales success but it wouldn’t be floundering. It would have a unique product lines with LT engines in every product and possibly an optional non LT V8 with more displacement than the LTs offer. No stupid move to SoHo, rather move myself into the engineering department of the existing building. The department would be filled with Cadillacs, Lincolns, Imperials, Packards, and Duesenberg vehicles from their beginning to the 1970s. And maybe the Lexus LS series as an example of quality cars in the 21st century.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      Caddy had some of the answers with their concepts. In fact, I thought the CT-6 was going to be the production version of the Ciel, not a larger CTS.

      Add in a good dose of crossovers trickled down from the Escalade and you’ve got a competitive product mix.

  • avatar
    seanx37

    Does GM trust the dopeboys, excuse me, Dopemen(or their aunts who lease the cars in their name), who buy Escalade’s to know what diesel is?

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    In this city Cadillac SUVs are primarily used to drop off shooting and stabbing victims in front of hospitals. Diesel really isn’t sought after by “personal ambulance” enthusiasts. Beats, dubs, and ease of egress are the real selling points. That and non-porous upholstery.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      LOL! On a related note, I just drove through a fresh crime scene here in Indy on the northside, someone shot at a barber shop. Candy painted “donk” on 26s in the parking lot, 6+ squad cars, news crew, etc.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I question whether luxury brands such as Cadillac and Lincoln are worth saving. Neither brand has the image it had 40 or more years ago. The suvs are the most profitable of both brands but is it worth putting any more money into developing cars which are declining in market share and profitability. Neither brand can compete against Mercedes or BMW nor should they try. Even if Lincoln made a rear wheel drive V-8 or V-6 powered flag ship sedan it would cost much more to develop and bring to market than the potential sales would justify. I don’t believe either Cadillac and Lincoln could survive just on their flag ship Escalade and Navigator.

    Maybe move the Escalade over to Buick and dissolve the Cadillac brand which has less cache to the younger generations. Buick at least has cache in China and has some very competitive products such as the Encore and Enclave that have been selling well.

    I don’t want to appear negative but GMs future is China. I think GM will eventually become a Chinese based corporation or eventually owned by a Chinese company. GM has a few good products that sell enough to be profitable.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      Cadillac is luxury as in “Luxury Apartment.” Real luxury is Rolls, Bentley, AMG, Aston Martin etc.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      One way to kill the Escalade would be to give it to Buick. The Escalade sells because its a Cadillac.

      But, your argument that their utilities are the real money makers and the cars are a losing proposition can be applied to nearly any brand you can think of. Ask Porsche where their money comes from. Should we just kill Porsche and give its current models to Audi?

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    About the only thing modern Diesels make sense for anymore is for heavy towing, which I doubt even 1% of Escalade drivers regularly need or even want.

    Diesel drivetrains are so complex now that any sort of “economy” argument has gone out the window a long time ago. All the additional expense diesel requires (plus the additional price of diesel fuel) and increased maintenance/service, and I honestly don’t know why anyone would choose it anymore UNLESS they have heavy towing needs.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Agree really luxury is the Rolls and Bentley. At one time Cadillac, Lincoln, and Imperial were the essence of luxury but you would have to go back to at least the 50’s when Lincolns, Continentals (yes it was a separate brand from Lincoln), and Imperials were hand built and had more luxury features than a Rolls or Bentley. Now a Lincoln and Cadillac are based on the lesser brands and are mass produced. The 56 Continental was hand built and was truly a luxury car but it cost 10k in 1956 and Ford lost money on each Continental it made and sold. The 56 Continental is truly a classic and among one of the most beautiful cars ever made. Elizabeth Taylor had one custom made for her in the color of her eyes which still exists. What a beautiful car.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      So, the answer for Cadillac and Lincoln is to build cars that lose massive amounts of money and sell in the tens. What an awesome business model.

      Lexus, Infiniti and Acura all have vehicles “based off lesser models”. But that’s okay because they’re not American brands, right? Mercedes-Benz sells a vehicle in other countries based on a Nissan pickup for crying out loud. Again, not a problem, its not American.

      Cadillac shares three platforms with “lesser” models, its best-selling Escalade, the soon-to-be-gone XTS and its Alpha platform which underpins the Camaro and nothing else outside Cadillac. You make it sound as though its selling nothing but a bunch of Chevy Cruzes with Cadillac script pasted over the bowtie. As with Lincoln, the vehicles they do share are not exact copies, they tend to have engine options and interiors exclusive to the brand. But, again, not Lexus so its bad, bad, bad.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        John T, most Lexus owners will readily accept any obvious/”pert near” Toyota parts on their Lexus. Fusion to Lincoln or Chevy to Cadillac obvious/”pert near” parts are deemed unacceptable in the luxury market. Not to say that CPO Lincolns aren’t a steal,, I almost bought one. A Lexus dealer will happily change the oil on a 15 year old, 220,000 mile ES and bring it back to the owner washed and vacuumed. Fastlane/Mr. Goodwrench? Not so much.

  • avatar
    Carrera

    I could be wrong, but I think GM Europe had to do a lot with developing the diesel engines. With Opel sold…

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    As If Europeans would be interested in an Escalade in any meaningful number. Russian gangsters maybe.

  • avatar
    spookiness

    Shouldn’t the headline be soot not dust?

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @John Taurus–I did not say that you assumed that. You need to read my prior comment that Cadillac and Lincoln should not compete in the car market. I fully understand why both share platforms with their lesser brethren. Cadillac and Lincoln’s most profitable vehicles are the big body on frame vehicles then the crossovers. If you read my other comment I stated specifically that the 56 Continental though a beautiful and classic car lost money for Ford. How is that to be interpreted that I said Lincoln should make a car that loses money? Do you believe that making a car will pull both Lincoln and Cadillac out of the mess they are in. Question for you why did FCA discontinue the 200 and Dart if they were so profitable and why is Ford discontinuing all their cars except Mustang if they are making money on them? The answer is they are not selling.

    It is not enough for Cadillac and Lincoln to base a luxury car off of a Chevrolet or Ford platform and then charge a ridiculously high price to compete. Both brands have lost their cache and both will not win back their former status with a car based on a mid-sized product from their current stable of platforms. I don’t think there is enough market for a rear wheel drive luxury sedan which Ford could base on the Mustang platform but is that going to give Lincoln enough sales to dig them out of their hole? I might like to see a 4 door rear wheel drive Lincoln with suicide doors but I just don’t believe Lincoln would sell enough to make the costs to develop and produce one profitable.

    Lexus is a whole different matter in that it is profitable. Really doesn’t matter what you or I think about the Lincoln and Cadillac brand the question is what opinions do others have.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Much easier to lose a reputation and loyal customers than to win it back. Both brands for years got by living on reputation and status and it will take more than spending money to get that reputation back. GM and Ford need to move on and let Lincoln and Cadillac die.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    DW and HDC are commenting again. All is right in the TTAC comments.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Good to see you’re still on ttac, el scotto.

      I’ve been out of the good ol’ US of A since before Memorial Day and didn’t come back until after Labor Day.

      Ensenada, Baja California, Old Mexico, is a wonderful place to be. I highly recommend it!

  • avatar
    Luke42

    Cadillac should be competing with Tesla, rather than BMW.

    Diesels are over, as much as I enjoyed driving my Jetta TDI (when it ran).

    Electric is the future.

    Yeah, moving to New technology is risky, but that’s where the new customers appear to be, and it’s definitely the hype is.

    Cadillac will continue to struggle as long as they do the same old ICE thing, because everyone who wants to pay the non-depreciates.prixe for an Escalade or a knockoff BMW already has one. But EVs are different — there’s a lot of unmet demand there, relatively speaking.


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