The cool new diesel GM won’t build


GM has developed a 4.5-liter diesel engine for the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups.

It’s an engine that could raise those trucks’ fuel economy into the mid to high 20s – higher than the new two-mode hybrid system in the trucks, which is rated at 21 mpg.

The engine has cylinder heads that eliminate the intake and exhaust manifolds. It’s truly an innovation should GM take pride in.

And they won’t build it.

Or perhaps the correct wording is they can’t build it. While GM struggles for survival by cutting costs and trying to reduce brands, innovations such as this new diesel are getting put on hold. That’s unfortunate, because the possible benefits of such an engine are huge.

It’s easy for observers of the auto industry (bloggers included) to immediately criticize GM for moves such as this. Certainly the people at GM know how badly they need innovation, especially the kind that makes pickups border on the fuel efficiency of a sedan.

The fact is, though, GM just can’t afford to move on with the development of this engine, which has already tested as quietly and smoothly as a gasoline engine. They’ve already received $13.4 billion in government loans, and they hope to receive another $16.6 billion. That’s money GM needs just to say in business… they simply can’t afford to innovate right now.

Some people will say they can’t afford NOT to innovate, and there’s some truth to that. A joint venture is a possibility, in which GM would work with another company to build the engines for them. But even if such an agreement were made today, it would be at least a year before the engines were in production.

While I truly believe this engine is exactly the innovation GM has needed for quite some time, I can’t help but wonder if it’s come too late.

Would you be interested in buying a light-duty diesel truck that achieved fuel mileage in the high 20s?



  1. I am 63 years of age. I have purchased many new cars in my life starting with a 1975 Pontiac Gran Prix with a 400 cubic inch V8 gas engine. GM was / is OUTSTANDING in manufacturing small and large reliable V8 engines. Less so with the V6 and 4 cylinder engines. I do not know why. Perhaps yours readers/subcribers have some insites. If the initial hype on this new diesel is correct then I say hooray to GM. But if this is mostly hype then I say shame on you GM. For those of us old enough to remember GM’s thoroughly unreliable and downright stupid production of diesel vehicles of the late 70’s which were really only converted gasoline engines; I say wait and see what this new engine is really like. I sincerely hope that is as revolutionary and reliable as the introduction of GM’s small block V8 of the mid 1950,s. GO FOR IT GM.

  2. Hmmm. GM tried this in the late 70’s through the early 80’s. We all know how well that went. However. . . .GM needs to do something, unfortunately they have lost consumer trust…….

  3. Show me your sign ! VW has a new 51 mpg diesel / auto that has caught my eye ! Detroit , as long as you have a customer like the tax payer keep up your stupidty !

  4. I would be interested as long as the fuel savings from using diesel engine makes up for the initial cost of the engine within five years (less the better).

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