Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Gm Plans Diesel-powered Cadillac, Saturn Cars by 2010

Author: Anthony Fontanelle

The General Motors Corp. plans to build diesel-powered vehicles under the Cadillac and Saturn brands in the United States by 2010. This information, as reported by Automotive News online journal, was divulged by the company’s head honcho Bob Lutz.

As gasoline prices continue to increase and more people become anxious about global warming issues, automakers are starting to make alternative fuels a bit more of a priority. The Toyota Motor Corp. has already announced that everything will be a hybrid. But the team at GM is taking a somewhat diverse approach.

Lutz recently dropped a pretty major bomb saying that the largest American automaker is working on a diesel-electric hybrid platform and it just may be flaunted in September at the Frankfurt Auto Show. Watchers in the industry said that the model will likely be an e-flex Opel Vectra.

In a video blog on the company's website dated Thursday, Lutz confirmed that the Detroit automaker would use clean diesel engines in passenger cars, sport utility vehicles and other light-duty trucks. He stressed, however, that emissions hardware and control systems needed to meet the standards would add another $2,000 to $2,800 to the $1,000-$2,000 premium that already exists for diesels over gasoline-engine cars.

A diesel car in Europe is not that big a deal, but when the Detroit Motor Show rolls around in January, the Detroit automaker plans on sporting the same e-flex technology in a Saturn, most likely the Aura sedan. And then, “it'll end up in a Cadillac, and there will be a front-wheel-drive version of the engine in 2009 or 2010 calendar year.”

The automaker will show the same variant at the Detroit auto show in January on a Saturn, most likely the Aura sedan, the industry journal stressed. The diesel engine will power the Opel Vectra in Europe by next year, and the next-generation Aura in the United States if all goes as planned, it said.

This time around, GM will not only be showcasing a stylish Saturn vent visor or a striking Cadillac fa├žade - the automaker intends to deliver a slice of what is to come regarding its lineup. The e-flex powertrain was first shown in the Chevy Volt which was displayed earlier this year. It is where “a traditional engine such as a diesel or gasoline engine, recharges a battery pack that provides power for an electric motor.”

The United States will gradually begin enforcing the world's strictest regulations for harmful nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) emissions starting from 2008 model year cars, and GM has been tepid about clean diesel engines as a remedy for bolstering fuel economy citing the high cost of development.

The Detroit automaker would be joining diesel front-runners such as the DaimlerChrysler AG and Volkswagen AG, as well as Japan's Nissan Motor Co. and the Honda Motor Co. in promising diesel vehicles compliant with the U.S. Tier 2 bin 5 emissions standards. Toyota has yet to join the growing list, saying clean diesels would end up being more expensive than gasoline-electric hybrids, a segment the automaker dominates.

Company sources said that GM will show a diesel engine at the Frankfurt auto show in September on an e-flex Opel Vectra, In GM's e-flex powertrain, a traditional engine recharges a battery pack that provides power for an electric motor.

Historically, diesel engines have been difficult to initiate, as they are typically designed to be large torque monsters in most applications. But at idle they sip comparatively little fuel, so truckers take pleasure in A/C and television in their crew cabs while the engine runs overnight. But there is certainly no reason to run a modern diesel any longer than necessary.

About the Author:

Anthony Fontanelle is a 35-year-old automotive buff who grew up in the Windy City. He does freelance work for an automotive magazine when he is not busy customizing cars in his shop.

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