Will GM LD Trucks Have a Diesel Option?

GMCsierra1500_cdauto_50812_4 II

Photo by Chris Doane Automotive

Reports about GM's new pickup truck powertrain lineup and subsequent strategies are beginning to ramp up. We've seen and heard from several sources who can't help themselves from speculating what type of engines will be under the hoods of the new 2014 Chevy Silverados and GMC Sierras. 

GM North American President Mark Reuss has gone on record saying a diesel option is one of the powertrain choices being considered for the new full-size trucks. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that if he's being this vague so late in the game, there probably won't be anything new in the new 1500 out of the gate. But the possibility exists that if one of the other competitors does something drastic, like offering a small diesel in a half-ton, GM will likely have something in the works to compete. 

For now, at least from the various spy photos we've seen, the only truck maker close to having a small turbo-diesel to market is Ram, with its prototypes running around Michigan. The spy photographers have done a great job of following certain test trucks into the fuel stations and catching the drivers using diesel nozzles. Another telltale sign: There seems to be sooty particulate buildup around the bumpers and tailpipe. 

Regardless of how close the Ram 1500 diesel engine is to reaching production — and with the 2013 model just around the corner, we're guessing not too likely for this next model year — the biggest hurdle with these more complicated and emissions-complex engine systems is cost. And nothing makes that point better than Ford's popular and powerful EcoBoost engine, which, in most cases, is about a $1,000 option — and in some cases even less. Now add the fact that diesel fuel is not always less expensive (and in some cases it still costs more than regular), and the tipping point for most buyers to invest the extra $3,000, $4,000 or $5,000 for a diesel (and likely a new transmission) is not there.

Ram1500Diesel.fill2 II

Ram1500Diesel pipe II
Above photos by KGP Photography

Reuss has continued to say he likes GM's two-truck strategy, where the smaller, lighter and more nimble Chevy Colorado will be able to satisfy truck buyers who don't have half-ton-truck work needs and where fuel economy is a much higher priority, as well as having the larger half-ton option. Whether or not that means the little trucks will get a new set of small turbo-diesel or turbocharged engines — and it seems GM has access to some pretty good ones from around the globe — remains to be seen. As for the larger trucks, we're thinking GM is more likely to take a more balanced (just don't call it less risky) approach to its powertrains.

With all the attention the past several years paid to high-performance gasoline engine technology in order to squeeze out higher horsepower numbers and better fuel economy, we can't help but think that practically nothing has been done to GM's aging and often ignored Vortec 4.3-liter V-6. This engine has been in just about everything truck and SUV GM has offered over the past few decades, yet it suffers from a lot of old technology. What if you add direct injection, some overhead cams, some sophisticated intake and exhaust variable valve timing and, just to make it interesting, just maybe offer it with a turbo option?

Clearly, GM is comfortable with turbo technology on modern engines. (You could even offer a four-cylinder turbo version for a smaller truck.) Having a standard or (non-turbo) and performance (single or twin turbo) version of a new Vortec 4.3-liter V-6 could make a lot of sense for a truck-making company worried about the upcoming fuel economy regulation hurdles and still stay true to the company's performance heritage.

Of course, we wouldn't expect GM to show all its cards when the new truck powertrain lineup shows up, but we're guessing they will have a few surprises. Whether that includes turbos on smaller, more fuel-efficent gas or diesel engines would require us to do even more speculation (and there's a lot of speculation here). Still, any one of those choices would make Ford and Ram reconsider their decisions to dump their smaller pickups for the U.S. market, and that could put an entirely new set of options on the table for us down the road. We'll see. 

Vortec 4300 V-6 II

 

Comments

I thought the new Deisels were suppose to be clean, I would skip the dual exhaust if I had a diesel that left black patches all over the back bumper.

I can hear the collective YIPPIEE from the oil burner fans.
Not a fan myself but it has got to be good for competive
one-ups-man-ship.
I'm not sure how it would bring back the baby Ford & Ram though.

@Mark Williams. Mark Ruess was CEO at Holden. Unlike some US CEO's of the Company, he was very impressed by the operation and was restoring a vintage 1950's Holden at one stage.
Reuss , knows how Holden marketed the diesel engined Rodeo, now renamed Colorado.

Hey Robert,

I get the sense Reuss understands the value of having a little diesel, but I think he's not too optimistic about U.S. buyers adopting little or mid-sized TDs as quickly and as easily as the Australian market has. Still a few more things have to change in this market.

Sooty particulate buildup around tailpipe. $5000 extra investment (a very conservative estimate I assure you, my guess is $7500 at least). Expensive fuel. DEF fluid. WHO says diesel emission are a carcinogen, no question. Heavy trucks switching to CNG/LNG. DI gasoline engines almost as efficient, less trouble-prone, probably will last longer with less costly repairs. Sure, the future for diesel is bright.........

Lots of people claim they would buy a diesel 1/2 ton, but when they hit the market (if they hit the market) I think very few will. The economics don't work.

"DI gasoline engines almost as efficient, less trouble-prone, probably will last longer with less costly repairs. Sure, the future for diesel is bright.........

Lots of people claim they would buy a diesel 1/2 ton, but when they hit the market (if they hit the market) I think very few will. The economics don't work."

Kudos Big Bob!

a good friend of mine has a 4.3 built out with 6.0 pistons, the 2.02 valves from the old HO 350's and a edlebrock intake and headers, all hooked up to a 4spd auto with shift kit, it is in a reg cab S-10 4X4 with 4:10 gears and posi rear, the truck runs very strong, I'm not sure who did the machine work, but it had to be bored out quite a bit, but the pistons, rods, valve train, timing chain are all out of the GM performance parts cat. I would love to see him put this truck on a dyno, he still gets over 20mpg hyw, and 15city, I know when I ran my ecco-boost reg cab 8' bed against him, he beat me to 50mph! but I past him after that.

I am beginning to believe GM's 2014 will not be much of a game changer. Ford started to develop the ecoBoost engine we see today back in like 2005/2006. This is a lot of devlopment time which has paid off. Recall that GM postponed, just a couple of years ago, development efforts on their truck line in favor of small car development because of the drastic changes in fuel prices and shifting customer demand. So, this delay in development has put GM in catch up mode and for them to make a leap forward may just not be feasible.

I will quote j w on this one. once again RAM is pulling ahead of the competition.

I don't understand the comment about soot buildup in and around the tailpipe. Today's diesels the ultra-low sulfur diesel and do not smoke (older diesels may still have the soot and smoke). My 2007 Ram 3500 diesel's tailpipe is cleaner than that of a vehicle with a gas engine. And this Ram has just short of 90,000 miles on the clock.

Diesel 2500 Suburban please.

I wouldn't be surprised to see soot at the tailpipe of an early stage development truck. It's non-production, they could be implementing and testing anything.

Gm's 2014 models are a long way off. I'd guess at least a year's wait.

I'm sure GM will have an ecoboost clone. Hopefully it'll be more fuel efficient.

Well written Mark. Although I'm about over hoping this happens.

And a strong second to Paul810

GUTS!!GLORY!!RAM!!!!!!!!!!


The good news:
*Chrysler has committed to the Grand Cherokee CRD with the A630 VM diesel. The emissions development is done.
*They'll likely spread availability to the Durango and RAM1500 to share costs.
*GM owns part of VM and thau has access to a ready-to-go engine.
The Bad news:
*With the after treatment needed today, diesels only deliver 10-20% fuel savings.
*Diesel fuel costs (10% here) more than gas and availability is still poor- you at least have to wait for the one pump at smaller stations.
*We still have seasonal fuel quality problems.
*HP in the low 200s is not a marketing dream for a premium option- another big raspberry from the marketeers.
*No one actually wants to be 1st.
GM still has a dig investment in HCCI technology that sounds promising.


Diesel and 8speed ram is taking down gm and ford!!!
Guts!!
Glory!!!
Ram!!!!

I can't see GM actually doing anything with the 4.3. Sure, it is a good old engine, but I doubt you could turn it into a good modern engine. Cadillac already has a twin turbo V6, the current 5.3 is a decent engine. It could remain as the base model engine after garbage canning the 4.3 and 4.8. Use the Cadillac V6 Turbo as the intermediate and the rumored 7.0 engine (already exists in the Corvette) as the top dog engine.
There is a rumor of a new 5.3 engine that shares only the number "5.3" with the old engine.
A diesel 1/2 ton engine needs to be in the 3-3.5 K range like in the Euro SUV's found in NA to stand a chance of selling.
I do hope that GM comes out with some excellent new trucks. Competition makes it great for us consumers.

I hope GM/Chev put a diesel into their light trucks. The fuel efficiency gains would surpass any turbo gas engine. A turbo gas engine would only be an interim fix as Ford will find out.

I also see GM with not much money and/or resources to spread across their range of vehicles, remember GM is not out of the woods yet. The engine would have to come from their "parts bin" in Asia or Europe.

An engine that springs to mind is the 2.8 Izuzu diesel. In Australia our version of the 2012 Colorado (automatic) the diesel pumps out 130 odd kilowatts and 470nm of torque. This would not compete against the VM 3.0L turbo diesel in the power/torque stakes.

Those guys have a lot more to worry about than a diesel engine. Chevy trucks are so outgunned by Ford and Dodge that even their 'new' truck will be outdated by Ford and Dodge within 12 months of launch. They need to save their cash for fast updates. Maybe they could even spring for some disc brakes out back this time? Possibly strengthen those tinfoil bumpers and bodypanels up if it doesn't cost them too many pennies extra? Perhaps offer Platinum-Limited and King Ranch-Laramie Longhorn interiors in the Silverado? I know, I know... I'm pushing it. I'm sure Chevy guys would probably settle for an engine without piston slap and sheetmetal that isn't wavy over the rear wheels. lol!

Really, those guys need to just give it up. Chevrolet hasn't built a good truck in years. I'd expect more of the same. Plan on 3rd best. Maybe 4th if Toyota or Nissan really up their game. Ford and Dodge are #1 and #2 now. Chevrolet doesn't even matter anymore.

@Mr Knowitall
"We still have seasonal fuel quality problems." That is a problem with US Diesel, how they fix that is going to be interesting. Fuel quality affects emissions.

good to see the typical GUTS GLORY RAM trolls. took them awhile to show up but good to see them posting their crap in this article as well.

PUTC has really gone downhill. partly due to the ram fanboys posting in all the articles, most unrelated to ram, about how Ram will take out ford. seriously, its not happening in 2012, get over yourself, and stop spamming completely unrelated crap in articles. its getting old, and you look like 12 year olds.

As regards the 2.8 litre VM Motori Diesel, here is a road test of the Holden Colorado(modified from the Thai specifications.)
http://www.caradvice.com.au/176692/holden-colorado-review-dx-lx-lt-ltz/

Those guys have a lot more to worry about than a diesel engine. Chevy trucks are so outgunned by Ford and Dodge that even their 'new' truck will be outdated by Ford and Dodge within 12 months of launch. They need to save their cash for fast updates. Maybe they could even spring for some disc brakes out back this time? Possibly strengthen those tinfoil bumpers and bodypanels up if it doesn't cost them too many pennies extra? Perhaps offer Platinum-Limited and King Ranch-Laramie Longhorn interiors in the Silverado? I know, I know... I'm pushing it. I'm sure Chevy guys would probably settle for an engine without piston slap and sheetmetal that isn't wavy over the rear wheels. lol!

Really, those guys need to just give it up. Chevrolet hasn't built a good truck in years. I'd expect more of the same. Plan on 3rd best. Maybe 4th if Toyota or Nissan really up their game. Ford and Dodge are #1 and #2 now. Chevrolet doesn't even matter anymore.


-THIS! The Chevy Silverado is good for a laugh, not much else. A diesel engine won't save them. They already have a great V8 diesel in their HD and it doesn't do squat for sales. Their diesel engines aren't the problem setting aside their slap happy gas motors. "It's the truck stupid".

I dont think it would be unreasonable to keep the old power train with minor upgrades, to go with the major upgrades to the chassis and body/interior that are supposedly happening in '14. As has been noted the 5.3 is no slouch if it were the base engine as opposed to the 4.8, give it some 3.55's or god forbid some 3.73's and it would be more than what 90% of half ton truck buyers would need and would be a fair touch better than the 5.4 that ford kept on when they implemented their most recent facelift in 2010 before rolling out the ecoboost and 5.0 power trains in 2011/12. The fact that it takes a brand new state of the art aluminum engine with dual overhead cams and vvt to outdo a pushrod engine who's basic architecture hasn't changed in 13years, says something. Yeah it needs an update but it's impressive when you think about it. If they kept the bottom en and brought the cams upstairs and added DI it would be a bruiser.

Well Ford did try a diesel F150 and the end result was the Ecoboost delivered better. It really comes down to cost. You might be able to squeeze a little bit more mpg from a diesel (And I mean a little) but at the same time the diesel option with emissions equipment included would cost more and diesel fuel costs more than regular gas in many areas. Thats why Ford canned the 4.4 diesel and used the Ecoboost. I'm pretty sure GM is going to do the same. Even Ram might end up canning their diesel, as they could use a twin turbo gas burner v6 with multiair tech, that might probably beat Ford's Ecoboost and GM's twin turbo v6 for mpg. If diesel fuel was cheaper we would have had a whole bunch of diesel cars and trucks.

@Tom with a Ranger. Here the 2 Litre Ecoboost is a disappointment. Not quite the power of the 4 Litre engine it replaces and a modest improvement in fuel economy over the 4 Litre unit.

@Tom with a Ranger

Personally, I believe that the Ram will come as a diesel.

Yes, dropping a turbo on a gas engine improves its efficiency. But this is only an interim measure until NA can afford to re-tool. This is the biggest problem with your light commercial truck market, investment into technological advancement.

The reason I say diesel will replace - just have look at the aviation industry, in particular turbine engines. The parallels between them and diesel is a lot closer than most imagine. Aviation engine technology is at least 15-20 years in front of the auto industry. Imagine what a diesel will do in 20 years. How much progress has been achieved with AVGAS powered aircraft lately? Little. General aviation has turned to turbines and turbo piston diesels.

But at the moment the NA vehicle market, particularly light commercials, is different from the rest of the world. This institutional view has isolated the NA market and used to work for the Big 3, but doesn't anymore. The "Bigger is better and more cubes" approach and psyche is changing, just look at your car sector compared to 30 years ago. Your pickup truck sector will change, it will adopt a more global view, just for economic reasons.

The Diesel RAM 1500 is coming (2014 or mid year 2013 maybe sooner ?) A great fit as they used the VM Motori engines since 1995 in Chrysler products abroad.But i truly cant wait until the 2013 Hemi'Ram with the 8 spd auto,low first gear 4.17 vs currents 3.00 and 5 more h.p ! I hope they offer a 4.10 axle in the 1500 in 2013 ! I love my 2010 Dodge RAM 1500 but a 2013 Dodge RAM 1500 will be in my garage for sure !

This article makes it sounds like gm has nothing in the works for a diesel. Has everybody got alzeimers? They had the babymax pretty much ready to go in 2008. Believe me this engine was not just on paper. So to say that they probably won't have it in time for there launch is asinine. I guess we'll just have to wait and see

All I want is for GM to keep building a HD pickup that out tows Ford and Dodge just like it does now.

I have read several reports (some claiming to be confirmed) that the 4.3L is gone. While it's a good engine (I have a '94 C1500 with one), it's old; it first appeared in 1985. As to what will be replacing it is still a mystery. Many people think it will be the 3.6L which I personally don't like. To me that engine just isn't a truck engine. The other choices I have heard is a possible new 90-deg V6 any where from 3.9L (built off the 5.3L) to 4.6L (built off the 6.2L) and a turbo V6. Whichever it will be, it better have some power and get really good fuel economy for a full-size pickup.

A good article about the new Ram-diesel is found at

http://www.dieselpowermag.com/tech/1208dp_banks_vm_motori_630t_v6_diesel_engine/#ixzz1xkQXTB48

It might deliver more than 600 hp in trim version.

HEMI'RAM

If you are going to troll on a Chevy page the least you can do is get the numbers right. First gear in the 8 speed is a much lower 4.7:1 not 4.17:1 like you stated.

GM already has a four cylinder turbo diesel in the Colorado for the Asian market. I've read that it gives 400 foot pounds of torque and delivers 32 mpg on the highway. If they brought it to the US I would trade my 2004 Colorado and buy one tomorrow.

Poor fuel quality is the govt. fault. ULS diesel is garbage and every new truck owner I deal with has issues unless they run lubricity additives with every tank of fuel.... Add that to the cost of your purchase and ownership cost increase again for diesel. Not to say all the increased emissions are choking their performance/economy too.

Still, some people would line up for the small diesel GM abandoned in'08 with their pending bankruptcy; and after what I had learned about it, I would consider it too. The baby Duramax was quite promising.

I would not buy a Diesel half ton for the same reason i would not buy an HD truck with that option, the costs are too high, $8000 on most HDs, thats alot of gas, and many of the gassers, HEMI and BOSS are getting better MPGs. why are people who dont put their truck under load everyday buying Diesels is beyond me. I had an 04 Jetta TDI for a while great car and the up charge was not bad, but my moms new Passat TDI the upcharge was not as bad as a truck but the urea is a PITA. the problemb with the HDs is the emission system is so complicated and so expensive that it prices most people out of the market, and i don't belive that todays deisels are more reliable than the Gas motors. Alot of people will do a cost benifit anyalisis when buying a truck, most half tons are daily drivers that do weekend towing/ offroading type duty. thoes poeple generaly will not be running a diesel motor very hard, and its not good to idel a diesel motor. the people who want diesel are aalready buying 3/4 ton trucks an F250 Lariat Diesel with FX4 and heated and cooled seats costs $55k, F150 Lariat 6.2 (same motor as base supper duty)and all the same feature costs 47k dollars. the 6.2 Lariat supper duty is within $300 of the F150 with more capability, if the manufactures come out with small TDIs they will have to make them signifigantly cheaper, to get new customers in them otherwhise they will canabalize their HD sales.

Ford has said they are going to offer a mid sized diesel in the E series replacement so we'll likely see this motor in more applications to help justify the costs. If they can put it in say 300,000 vehicles in the US market then the average cost will come down. Some of the big $8k cost in the HD's is from having massive transmissions that can handle all that torque. A 3.0-4.0 diesel will likely not be a whole lot more power than a 6.2 gas motor so the same mid-range tranny's will work.

I am not convinced that the payoff would work for me either but I would be willing to bet a decent sum of money that the cost is under $3000 for the new diesels in the 1/2 tons.

@Mowarth

You are correct about the transmissions.

The 3.2 liter diesel T6 Ranger and my BT50 have MT82 Getrags. A young bloke at work has a T6 and he has driven it less than 3 000 miles and can't select any gears. The MT82 is fitted to your Mustangs.

In Australia it works out approximately a 4 cylinder mid size turbo diesel is the same cost as a V6 gas engine. The Grand Cherokee has a V6 diesel the same price as the V8.

Ford could fit the 3.0 litre diesel it uses in the Land Rover Discovery in the F-150 or even your new Transit. It would be a much cheaper option than the 4.4 litre V8 diesel. I hear alot of threads about the cost of the 4.4, remember it is fitted to Range Rover that compete with BMW, Mercedes etc.

I'll never own another heavy-duty diesel pickup. Just gasoline from now on. The V-10 has more torque than I need 98% of the time without spending the extra $10K and added aggravation that comes with diesels. And I've owned diesel pickups exclusively since the Reagan era.

A 1/2 ton diesel makes even less sense. Very few would actually buy one and most of those would regret it.

Ford charges something like a $3000 premium for the 6.2 V8, well a 4.4-4.5L V8 diesel with the same premium makes a hell of a lot more sense!

I think it will sell some poeple will drop from 2500s/3500s to 1500s. They just want the diesel so they got to buy the bigger trucks just to get the motor they want. Half ton diesel got be cheaper to buy and own then owning/buying a 3/4 ton 1 ton diesel right?

Johnny, I think you are right. Though I think a 4.5L Duramax 2500 would also do well. I am glad GM will be doing 1500 crew with 6.5' bed.

As a fleet buyer, we would love to be able to get diesel half tons or even diesel 1/4 tons. Right now, our entire fleet is diesel. We got rid of the gas pumps in our yard years ago after they started getting ridiculous with insurance and environmental costs.

Smaller diesels would give us another option, instead of having to decide between a VW car or a 3/4 ton pickup.

Personally, I would even be happy with smaller diesels in the 3/4 tons. While we use the full payload capacity, most of ours rarely tow anything heavier than a welder or compressor. They don't need ~400hp to do that.

Paul810

I think there are a lot of people that share the same sentiment. I wonder how big of a sales loss they'd have in the 3/4 and 1 tons of the bigger diesels if a mid-sized one was offered. 25% maybe?

@Paul 810 and mhowarth.
Found these comments about diesel SUV's on the Airstream Forums, bulk of the SUV's they are talking about have 3 litre diesels.'
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f463/suv-towing-the-next-generation-92210.html

"The diesel "Euro-SUV's" can outperform the conventional pickup in many categories of towing

I switched from an F-150 to the Touareg TDI back in January and have never regretted it. The F-150 was good, but the VW is phenomenal.

Exactly! I still have trouble believing one vehicle can do it all, but it's been a series of pleasant surprises. The non-towing mileage is amazing: 24 MPG commuting 20 miles, and touching 30 highway-if you keep it around 65 MPH on flat ground. Of course, it's a bit tough to drive this sensibly on the Autobahn.

Think folks that haven't driven the Teutonic diesel SUV's just can't accept that they are that good...when I test drove a ML350 Bluetec I was simply astounded by just how powerful it was. The newer diesel technology is amazing in terms of efficiency and unlike the domestic truck manufacturers you don't pay a 6-8K premium just to get diesel."

@mhowarth Actually I think both segments would grow. HD pickups are more expensive because of the huge diesel engine, the price of the HD chassis and drivetrain seem to be minimal. Offer the 4.5 across the entire range, and they will sell a lot more trucks.

@Paul 810 and mhowarth.

I think the NA market will end up being similar to our Australian Market, except HD will still be around for those who can afford them. And this is where your Big 3 pickup manufacturers have dropped the ball.

Current medium pickups overall performance is simiilar to your F-150, 1500 Chevs and Rams, with greater energy advantages. Don't tell me you can't put a sheet of ply into a medium size truck or do 0-60 in under 7 seconds.

I say this because gasoline is cheap now even though you guys are currently over $3.50 -$4.00 a gallon. Europe and the US economies are flat to retracting. WTC (NA)averaging $100 a barrel, Brent (Euro) $115 per barrel and Tapis $125 (Asia Pacific, Australia). This doesn't take into account inflation from "money printing".

In a few years the US and hopefully Eurozone economies will have picked up some steam. If demand is low for crude now what will be the average price for it then. I think over $150 per barrel in NA. What will this do to the affordability of your F trucks, Rams and Silverados at $6.00-$7.00 plus a gallon.

Believe it or not the second largest pickup truck market is Thailand will nearly half a millon sold every year. Their medium pickups (global) on average run smaller engines than we do in Australia. So I believe the NA market will adopt global trucks similar to Australia.

And I see the same future for our Holden and Ford utes. Why would you want an eco-boost Ford ute when you can have a diesel for the same price.

@Alex - your point makes sense. A diesel in the 3-4 litre range would be a good option even in the HD's. Currently 1/2 and3/4 ton trucks overlap in relation to capacity. An overlappping diesel option would be nice. Truck sales would go up but I bet sales of 8,000 dollar diesel engines would drop.

@Big Al from Ox - you raise some very valid points. The NA automotive landscape would change drastically if fuel prices rose to match those of the rest of the world. We are already seeing the homogenization of automobiles throughout the globe.



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