GM Committed To 2010 Light-Duty Diesel Even If Buyer's Aren't

GM Committed To Light-Duty Diesel

GM is the last truck maker to remain committed to offering a light-duty diesel engine by 2010, even though GM's vice chairman of global product development Bob Lutz says half-ton buyers are unlikely to opt for the oil burner in the current environment.

"The whole light-duty diesel thing is fraught with problems," Lutz told at the 2009 Detroit auto show. "To meet Tier 2 Bin 5 (50-state federal emissions regulations), the engines are getting more and more expensive. We've already hit the pain threshold with the regular (6.6-liter) Duramax diesel where the customer is saying wait a minute, an $11,000 premium for a diesel engine. I'll buy the gas."

Lutz wouldn't say if the 2010 calendar year still remained a viable date to introduce GM's new 4.5-liter Duramax V-8. However, GM powertrain spokeswoman Susan Garavaglia told that GM is still planning to roll out the engine in its Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra half-ton pickups next year.

GM says the clean diesel is expected to be rated in excess of 310 horsepower and 520 pounds-feet of torque. Fuel efficiency is said to be improved by 25 percent, CO2 emissions cut by 13 percent, and particulate and NOx emissions cut by at least 90 percent.

But even with improved fuel economy, Lutz said, "you save 25 percent fuel use but you'll pay 25 percent more per gallon. And you pay a premium upfront for the engines. Where's the advantage?"

Other vehicle manufacturers have shelved or killed plans for light-duty diesels in cars and trucks. Chrysler has said its Cummins-source Ram won't be available until 2011 at the earliest. Ford and Toyota have both shelved their diesels indefinitely.

"Everybody's coming to the same conclusion. Explain how this makes sense to the customer," Lutz said.


I read about this engine that its design allowed for the elimination of 6 dozen parts. Do those parts and their installation not save manufacturing cost? Why an $11,000.00 premium for a diesel? Surely the cost (as compared to the price) is not nearly that much.

This diesel engine should cost no more than $2500.00 over the 5.3 liter gas engine. The engineering costs should be spread over multiple production years.

If Lutz and GM want to cancel the diesel (and watch the riot at Tonnawanda and New York State) they will end up ceding the market to Mahindra.

The Japanese came in the same way. The big three refused to effectively address the oil crisis and its high gas prices, and the void was filled. Here we go again.

This could be a huge mistake for GM. I thought they were suppose to be focusing on cost competitive/fuel efficient vehicles. If these trucks cannot be justified by Mr Lutz, then why are they doing it? An $11,000 premium? Are you kidding me? Somebody's laughing all the way to the bank! And it ain't us.

The future for diesel powered pickups is not good. Chrysler, Ford, and Toyota may have made a wise decision.

The prices for diesel/auto transmission options now are pretty far up there in the 3/4 ton and up applications:

Dodge $6505
Ford $8385
GM $8395

With the ever increasing emissions mandates $11k isn't that far out there. No one ever said that being clean was going to be cheap.

Even at $4 a gallon the cost of those options will buy about 2000 gallons of fuel. Or another way, even at a modest 15MPG, 2000 gallons would get about 30k miles worth of travel.

Too bad the diesel torque curve is simply awesome.

One thing that Lutz is really good about doing is exagerating. I think he is doing this to try to get people to back off on the push for this engine. Oh yeah, here is a really strange idea to spread the cost of this engine out. Offer the 4.5 and 6.6 diesel in the HDs or at least offer the 4.5 in the 2500HD. The 6.0L gas is not powerful enough to compete with Ford's V10 gasser. They can still put the 4.5 in the LDs, but does someone in the HD really need 400 HP and 700 lb/ft torque in all applications. This would be about like how over the road trucks are and offer different powers based on application.

Another thing is if someone is truly interested in helping the environment for themselves as well as future generations, they will be willing to pay a little extra out of the pocket and not be so concerned about the return on investment. By no stretch of the imagination am I a tree hugger, but my wife and I have discussed different options for vehicles. Current vehicles are a silverado 1500 with the 5.3 4x4 and a TSX.

Don't forget part of the $11,000 he is stating includes upgrading the transmission to an Allison. That $11,000 is not just motor only.

I think I'll take Ford's EcoBoost. You get the diesel like power, the fuel economy, and it is supposed to be only $700 extra. $11,000 or $700.? I'll take the Ford. Besides it is a better overall truck anyway.

Another thing that makes me think that Lutz is exagerating is how does VW produce a diesel and have a comparably equipped vehicle only cost about 1 to 2K more and Mercedes Benz is about 1k more and BMW is 2k more. I think it is just a ploy to be able to profit more to make up the billions they have lost and make sure they executives get their bonuses.

My limit is $3K over a gas engine. Even at this threshold the price premium might be a little too much. Let's see. I have a 4x4 Sierra with a 4.8L under the hood and 3.42 rear end. I got an average of 19.6MPG over the 47,500 miles. Suppose the diesel gets 30% better fuel economy. That works out to be 25.5MPG. From August 2006 through a couple of days ago a gallon of regular gas in NJ averaged $2.66. I cannot speak for a gallon of diesel, but remember, it is pricier than 87 octane, let's say $3.00. So, in my truck I burned 47,500/19.6*2.66=$6,446. Same math for diesel: 47,500/25.5*3.00=5,588. Math does work in favor of diesel, if the average price were indeed $3.00/gallon. So, the savings here would have been $6,446-5,588=$858, which means at $3K engine premium, it would have taken me approx. 166,000 miles to break even. I am not factoring in costlier diesel maintenance here, which would have pushed the breakeven even further.

You might wonder what the heck my point is? Well, anything above $3K engine premium does not make sense to the average Joe...

I do not think putting a diesel engine in a light duty vehicle is based on the idea it's more economical. It's not - especially for the demographic that typically purchases 1/2 ton trucks. These buyers do not demand 15,000 lbs of towing every week - or even one a month. They do not typically keep their vehicle for 200,000 miles +. And in all reality, they do not require 600+ ft/lbs of torque.

In my opinion, putting diesels in 1/2 tons is for one purpose: to satisfy the "green" push we've experienced in the auto industry. As someone else stated, the price of having a clean vehicle isn't going to be comparable to something that produces less carbon. That's the bottom line. America, you believe the polar ice caps are melting because of diesel trucks - welcome to $11,000 options for clean diesel vehicles!

With that being said, I purchased a 3/4 ton diesel last year - and not because I tow. The maintenance cost - at least on a Cummins diesel (can't speak for Durmax or Powerstrokes) is considerably less than a gas engine. Yes, the oil change does cost more - but it's done less frequently than 3,000 miles - so I'd call it even. No spark plugs to replace. And it has a 300,000 miles overhaul interval. In general, everything is built bigger and stronger on a 3/4 ton and I wanted something to keep 10+ years, get better than 14 mpg in the city and 16 on the hwy, and require little maintenance. So, I opted for the higher price tag.

One assumption of Mr. Lutz's comment is the stability of the fuel market. Of course, this is a bad one, but understandable for a soundbite. As demand for diesel fuel increases supply, the price difference from gasoline will stabilize and most likely diminish.

A second assumption is taxes remain constant. Since taxes are a consequence of public opinion, diesels will be favored with incentives and their fuel with a favorable tax burden.

A third assumption is the raw fuel source is fixed. National security and economic interests may encourage the further development of synthetic (i.e. coal and biowaste based) and alternate fuels of which the diesel will be more tolerant.

Add the intangibles of the target customer and the tangible characteristics of the product, and introducing LDD 1/2 ton pickups may prove a bold stroke of market leadership.

So, Bob. Get your engineers working on improving the 25% gain in mileage to maybe 35% or 40%.

Regardless of the manufacture, the first 1/2 ton diesel to the market, I'm buying it.

Patrick, just watch out for that turbocharger. They do go south periodically, and the cost of replacement is far greater than that of set of sparkplugs :-)
I stand my ground - a gasoline engine is no more expensive in terms of maintenance than a comprable diesel. Let's see: I change my own oil. I use pretty expensive stuff - Royal Purple - at $8 a quart. Last oil change I spent 62 bucks (with NJ 7% tax) - I bought six quarts of oil, an AC Delco filter, and two bottles of STP cleaner. Because I use high-grade oil, I feel I can painlessly increase my oil change intervals to 6K miles. This amounts to three times a year oil changes. All in all, $180. I don't think this is a lot; like I said, I could easily do them for half the price or even less... Spark plugs live up to and beyond 100K miles; I sold my old Corolla with 120K miles with its original plugs still in place...

Barry, why do you think diesel taxes will decrease? Europe did that for many years (subsidized diesel through tax games.) Lately they seem to have abandoned this idea, and their diesel prices are higher than gas ones. Bummer for the average Joe (or Hans, or Roberto, pick the name), considering that up to 50% of all light vehicles in Europe are diesels. Sounds to me like those folks got shafted... :-(

If you need a tow vehicle most will go and buy a 3/4 ton truck. But if you need a usable truck once and a while and want good mileage a 1/2 ton diesel makes sense. But do we really need a engine with 310hp/ 500+ torque to drive around ? Maybe offer a lower hp/torque rated engine, which might get better mileage, for a lower price difference to the gas engines. Even make the ratings comparable to the 5.3 gas, so the truck could use the same transmission/ rear axle, and it might get 35% better mileage than the gas engine and only cost 3k more. When the original 6.2 came out the big block was much stronger engine, but the diesel did its job and got great fuel mileage in a full size pickup, and look at how many were sold over the years.

--Lutz said, "you save 25 percent fuel use but you'll pay 25 percent more per gallon. And you pay a premium upfront for the engines. Where's the advantage?"

Because they made them too freakin' big!! Light duty buyers aren't looking for 520lb/ft, they're looking for better fuel economy! That thing should have been about a 3.5-4.0 TDI, THEN it would have gotten fuel economy that would have made up for the premium. Stupid planning IMO.

I used to own a 6.2L diesel in a 1988 GMC half ton. It would get 28mpg (Imperial) or 23.3 mpg (US).
Why was that engine ever eliminated? Too economical?

This 4.5L engine is a step in the right direction. Most Duramax owners don't even need a 3/4 ton for what they use it for anyways.

Trevor is exactly right about the engine, as is Sierra_WT about why people buy the 1/2 ton. A small six or large four cylinder diesel will have plenty of HP and torque for what most mid-size truck owners need. Those size engines would put the mileage close to 30 MPG and still have enough power to tow a boat or travel trailer. My Mom and Dad have the Jeep Liberty diesel (it is a 4-cylinder) that has same HP and torque as my 6-cylinder Tacoma, but with 40-50% better mileage. Not to count that homeade biodiesel only costs a third of the dino diesel.

It looks like the Oil Monopoly still owns GM, FORD, and Chrysler. the board of directors in all of those Auto companies is completely and fully dominated by the Oil Monopoly. Exxon Mobil, Texaco, BP and the rest of them. The truth is that Mogas is a byproduct of Diesel distillates. You can't make Diesel without having Mogas as the remaining byproduct. The oil companies need to sell it to us or else they will have no place to sell it to in the quantities they will have left. So they need to rip the public off in all directions to include the by product of diesel / Jet Fuel otherwise known as Kerosene. When we as a people say enough is enough about the scamming and scheming that is going on.

I ran perkins diesel in a ford f150 for 7 years. did not have spedo hooked up so did not have accurate mi. check.was much better than ford f250 with early 7.3 and no overdrive. now have 5.9in a dodge and am happy. a4leiter turbo would be great in a 1/2

I think some of you are missing a major point, the diesel will get closer to 35% better economy in city driving as compared to the gas engines, remember the torque starts and stays right at +500 ft/lbs from idle through the 3000 + rpm. Also put these engines in all of the Express/Savana 2500/3500 work/cutaway vans and 2500/3500 Silverado/Sierra Trucks that haul or tow +9000 lbs on a daily basis and now your talking some serious savings. The 6.6L duramax in the Express/Savana is junk compared to this engine (weighs too much,too big and 250Hp 460 ft/lb ). I presently drive for work,a E-350 cutaway w/ knaphede body 5.4L, 4.10 gear 10K lbs, 9.5 mpg)

I think you're missing the point. The article said 25% and it will probably be closer to 20% mixed driving. Even at 35%, the big price tag would take you 20 years to recoup that kind of investment. Where are the "serious savings?"

i think the half ton diesel is an excellent idea a lot of people dont want to step up and get a 2500 or a 3500 i drive half tons and i love it but i also would definatly buy a diesel especially in a half ton

gm diesel like the electric car Ev,,,,,no back Bone .Wye we cant decide what engine we want....

there is something flaw with the math here. the dodge sprinter put out 25 mpg on a vehicle that is heavier than a fullsize pickup, while having a much bigger aero package. they need to be thinking V6 turbo, and more of the people that need a full size suv without needing to tow 10,000 pounds. in my own experience a sprinter can go 2.5 the distance of a V8 cargo van. that is way there are so many sprinter on the road and so many cargo van on the used car lots.

Dodge should have the Sprinter modified into a pickup, yes it would be ugly, but it would wake up the pickup market.

Where's the saving? Try and get 300,000 miles out of a gas engine. Take care of it and a diesle engine will last longer and cost less to maintain then a gas engine. Don't and like any engine it will eat you alive.

Having had one of the original Checy light diesels back when, 30 MPG and dual tanks was nice, plus being able to burn other fuel if necessary, was a nice plus. The guy who ultimately bought it, is still running it.

After being exposed to the new generation of TDI diesels from Germany, from my girlfriends New Beetle, I am sold, and I like my performance. I will only buy new gen diesel from here on out, truck or car. Hell, my dream car is a diesel, albeit with over 500hp, 770lb-ft, and $200k, the new R8 TDI (this coming from a guy with an SRT-10).

America needs to be exposed/educated to the new generation (light duty) diesel. And GM is the only domestic with one, the right size and I hope price, a great one it seems, for both trucks and cars.

Multiply this 2.0L displacement and output by about 2.5, and you have a stump pulling engine yielding 25mpg or better in a 2 ton vehicle, that will have similar performance to the bigger gas engine. And its real power down low, not at the gas engines 6000rpmn redline where I'm never at (off the track). Used in conjunction with 6 gears, and it has real usable power delivery. Its even more efficient than their hybrid, and all electric isn't an option for many reasons.

I want a (full size, U.S. Corp.) regular cab, short bed, light duty truck for my main mode of transportation. I use it for light duty work sometimes, and I just like utility. I also NASA open track road race the (2) hotrod trucks made, Lightning & SRT-10, and beat most sports cars here in SOCal (see video on youtube search "#18 jsc droptail"). The only thing that will keep me in a (above configurationed) truck at $4/gal will be if it gets between 25 - 30mpg.

I am curious to see if I can make this diesel dance on the track as well. I hope GM has built in some wiggle room for us gearheads to play with.

Stop stalling and bring it out. And promote it as well. Use guys like me who will promote and expose them on the street and the track.

If you listen to Lutz speak as I have you find that that...

1. He doesn't believe in global warming and things anyone who does is nuts.
2. He believes that people do not want fuel efficient cars. What they want is sexy cars like the Camero. (he actually said that).
3. He believes that gas prices are going to go back down to around 2 dollars a gallon.

He may be a big wig in the car industry but there is a reason GM almost went under. The only reason they have a fighting chance is he is being forced to do things he doesn't believe in. He doesn't want to build the chevy volt.

I want a light duty diesel in a canyon or 1500.

The reason why VW can offer them affordably is because about 50% of the vehicles sold in Europe are diesel so that brings the costs down. In the states, they treat diesel as a premium engine rather the mainstay. If they built them and offered them reasonably like toyota did with hybrids where they ate some of the cost originally, they would sell.

Dont forget to add the cost of new high pressure injectors every 50 k at a cost of 4-5k per set.

Looks like to light duty diesels have died on the vine for 2010.

Actually, up to 80% vehicles sold in Europe now are modern direct injection turbodiesels, with particle ("particulate") filters and clean diesel technology.

Gasoline cars just sit on the lots because nobody wants to buy a vehicle with a motor which is more complex, has a shorter lifespan, and uses more fuel (even with the diesel being the most expensive fuel, it's still cheaper at 50pmg).

Honda and Subaru all took a beating in Europe because they did not offer diesel versions of their passenger vehicles; finally, Subaru developed a boxer turbo diesel (and reclaimed lost market), and Honda sells diesel Accords now as well.

(I moved back to the U.S. from Europe several months ago.)

They should drop these small block V8 diesel engines in cars, and offer them with a manual transmission!

I have a 2005 2500HD Diesel 4X4 and I'm getting 16.67 MPG avg all the time. I love my truck and i love my diesel. I want a truck that will get 25mpg NOW i don't need a 3/4 ton truck its just to much truck too much up keep. The new 1500HD Diesel will not have the Allison. so 3000.00 for just the diesel, I'm Ok with that. I need a high fuel millage truck like my 1992 6.2's that's still get 22mpg but at 359K its time to get a crewcab diesel GM we NEED IT NOW.... and make it Bio diesel compatible

The specs they are building to are missing the mark. I have been waiting for a light duty deisel in a 1/2 ton platform for way too long. And this still isn't it. They need a small inline 6 (or 4). 200 - 240hp is plenty since that engine will have more than enough torque. I won't be using my 1/2 to pull 8,000lb trailers! I will pull light duty trailers (motorcycle, enclosed 12 foot, etc) and boats. When no towing, you'd get great mileage even when hauling things in the bed.

By using a very small diesel, the torque wouldn't be high enough that a different transmission would be needed, saving cost. The gas 5.3 liter in my current truck is 275 hp. Even when towing, I just don't need it. Way back when, our 1/2 V8 engines were running 185hp and it was plenty then (granted, those trucks from the 80s weighed quite a bit less than the truckes today).

I drive a full size truck for cabin space and bed space, not for max towing capacity. As long as I have a tow rating of 5,000 - 6,000 lbs, that will be plenty (as I'll rarely tow over 2,000 - 4,000lbs). The manufacturers are trying to make a 1/2 ton do the work of the 3/4 ton and the target buyers just don't want or need that. With the right diesel engine, transmission (6 speed with high overdrive gearing), high differential gearing, tires, aerodynamics, etc, there is no reason mileage shouldn't be pushing the 30mpg mark when cruising 65mph on the interstate.

I have 2 modern diesel vehicles.
2.0L TDI Passat wagon 80k miles no problems 42MPG.
2.8L Jeep Liberty 50K no problems 30mpg.
Just wait till Mahundra starts selling their 2.2L TDI quad cab pickup later this year for under $25K.
Wonder who Lutz is in bed with this month? BP maybe?

well, i have a jetta tdi and i get +/- 40 mpg try getting that
from a gas engine that will go over 200,000 miles. also
i only have to change the oil on my tdi every 10,000 miles.

i will be buying a mahindra when they come out this year. i guess the us auto industry will get left behind again. when are they going to learn, i guess when the gov stops helping them.

a half ton diesel would sell like hot cakes in the oil patch. We were talking about this the other day. To find a half ton diesel you are looking at a ten year old or more vehicle. Most of the guys on my crew don't need a 3/4 ton, they just have one because it has a diesel engine to get rig fuel. A half ton diesel would make the perfect work truck. Not super heavy, just right for running to the rig and back home, not pulling a trailer all the way.

If you go to Ford's UK website, they do not offer the Ranger with anything but a diesel engine. How is it that they are not smart enough to at least offer it in the states? I can't believe it would be THAT hard to bring here.


America needs these light duty diesels! High fuel prices will be back before you know it and then GM will be playing catch up. Gov't Motors needs to get it together now!

I think they should come out with a diesel in there Colorado. They have it overseas why not make it available here. The diesel would sell good in this area if it is reasonably priced of course.

The diesel that is used overseas would not past the strict emission regulations of the U.S.A.

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