GM Wants To Be New Leader In Diesel Powertrains

GM thinks the Volkswagen diesel cheating scandal has left a vacuum in the marketplace — a vacuum it would be only too happy to fill. Speaking at the Center for Automotive Research’s annual Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, Michigan last week, Dan Nicholson, GM’s vice president of global propulsion systems, said, “I am very optimistic about the diesel market in the U.S. It has been abandoned by others and we are happy to step in and be the leader. Frankly that’s what we’d like to do.”


General Motors may build more cars with diesel engines

Last month, Hinrich Woebcken, CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, told Automotive News that his company won’t relaunch “clean diesel” as a core element of its brand identity in the U.S. He said Volkswagen will use diesels where they make sense until at least 2019. After that,  tougher emissions regulations will make the diesel engines extremely difficult to certify for sale in the US.

Nicholson disagrees. He said the upcoming standards will be tougher, but not impossible to meet. “I think the U.S. is one of the few diesel growth markets on the planet. There are a lot of diesel intenders and diesel-loyal people who are looking for a brand and vehicles to go after. They tend to be more tech savvy than the average customer. And they won’t stop wishing for a diesel. And we’ll go after those customers.” GM currently offers a diesel engine in its Colorado midsize pickup trucks.

Nicholson also said GM wants more continuously variable transmissions. “We’re relatively bullish on CVTs,” he said. “We’re optimistic about CVTs in the U.S. market for front-wheel-drive applications up to a certain weight level. You will see more of that from GM in the future.”

To go down that road, GM would have to decide whether to obtain CVTs for its cars from an outside supplier or build them itself. GM currently sells only one car with a CVT — the Chevrolet Spark. That transmission is supplied by Jatco, a subsidiary of Nissan Motor Co.

“We are happy with the product we are buying today,” said Nicholson. “It is enjoying good success in the marketplace. We usually look at make-versus-buy and volumes.” Nissan has switched all of its volume cars, including the midsize Maxima, to CVT. Honda has also been replacing its traditional automatics with CVTs.

Nicholson would not rule out the possibility of producing a CVT through a partnership with Ford Motor Co. The two companies have jointly developed a 10-speed automatic for rear-wheel-drive vehicles, and a nine-speed automatic for fwd cars and crossovers.

That fact alone should tell you how things have changed in the auto industry. For decades, Ford and General Motors refused to work together. It was an era when the “Not invented here” syndrome made sure there was little to no interchange of ideas between the two companies. Ford would not comment on the possibility.

Source: Automotive News

Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.