GM told Design News that the Cruze's diesel engine solves some of the notable problems that previously constrained diesel popularity in this country. The noise, exhaust soot, and foul smells were engineered out a long time ago.
Still, the cost of a diesel engine is markedly higher than that of a gasoline-burning engine. The engine's block, pistons, crankshaft, and connecting rods must be beefier as a means of dealing with the higher operating pressures necessary for compression ignition. "If you look at a 2.0-liter common base size pistons, you can see that the diesel will cost more," Siegrist told us. "It comes down to the higher cylinder pressures that the whole engine sees."
Moreover, engine control is a significant issue. "European diesels are wonderful engines," David Cole, chairman emeritus of the Center for Automotive Research, told Design News late in 2012. "But they do have a costly problem with nitrogen oxide control because diesel exhaust has a lot of excess oxygen in it. That's tricky and expensive to do."
The fuel itself is also more costly in the US, where it doesn't enjoy the tax advantages provided by European markets. The reason for the higher initial cost is that diesel fuel uses longer-chain hydrocarbons with a relatively low self-ignition temperatures, which are needed for compression ignition.
"Diesel fuel is harder to make," Cole told us. "There are only so many long hydrocarbon chains in a barrel of crude." The result is that diesel fuel typically costs between 25 cents and 40 cents per gallon more than gasoline in the US, he added.
Chevrolet expects buyers of the Cruze diesel to be drawn to it by its performance, however, rather than its pure economic advantages. "The Cruze diesel won't be focused on the pure business case," Siegritz said. "You're getting a premium product -- a more powerful product -- that still gets great fuel efficiency."
Anyway, my main point was that I have personal exoerience between hybrid and diesel performance, which still makes the increased tax worthwhile.
To Charles point about Eupoean diesel engines, they certainly have taken a big jump in both performance and MPG in the last 5 years. My wife previously had a older technology Citroen diesel C4 and that gave no better performance than her current hybrid.
I agree for the most part with bob from maine. Other threads blame GM etc for bad engines. But the main reasons for the dislike of diesel are soot and smell. Personally the Manufacturer that did the most to put a bad rap on diesel is Mercedes. Their older cars with the soot pouring out at every acceleration were horrendous! The entire rear of the Mercedes would be black from soot. They smelled horrible to even be around, etc. For some reason there were quite a few on the road. Poor man's Mercedes? Now we have the Dodge Ram trucks that people are hopping up that pour the soot out. I have not been in the emissions business in several years but I understand that at least here in California there are steps to regulate the amount of soot. Finally! IMO American manufactures should not be allowed to sell their version of diesel engine, I understand in Europe the technology is much better.
Seeing the comments below, I just wanted to point out that the UK also taxes diesel more than regular, but the mpg more than makes up for it.
I drive a Peugeot turbo-disel and get 59mpg, whereas my wife has a Toyota Auris hybrid and only gets 42mpg. I also get much better highway performance due to the significantly higher torque, so my one surprise is that the GM US mpg is so low.
Yes, GM did have a lot of expertise with diesel engines:
Detroit Diesel made engines for use in GMC truck and busses, and for sale to other truck manufacturers.
Electromotive Division made its own engines for its locomotives.
GMC Truck & Coach made its own engines for trucks, as well as for driving irrigation pumps. (I don't remember exactly when they stopped, but they built the GMC motor homes in the same building--Building 29--that they used to build engines in, and that started in 1973.)
Sometimes different GM divisions worked very well together. But I think that was more the exception than the rule. There were not well-established communication paths between the divisions, and sometimes there was a bit of not-invented-here syndrome, so it would not surprise me if the problem were that the people designing the Chevy diesel engine did not have access to all the design wisdom that existed in the other divisions.
I don't know any of the specifics of that particular engine, but this would make sense based on my experience working at GM for several years. (BTW, the problem isn't just GM. My experience is that in huge corporations, sharing of information is awful, because people don't know who has the information and how to get access to it.)
Ratsky, the point we were trying to make is that diesel fuel in Europe is taxed differently than gasoline in Europe. A representative from GM and another from the Center for Automotive Research used the term "diesel subsidy" -- meaning that diesel fuel isn't taxed quite as heavily over there as gasoline is. If there's information to refute that, I'm certainly open to hearing it.
I retired my '84 300D after 375K miles when the lift went through the rocker panels. Maine winters and road salt ate my car! The American market has not been receptive to diesel engines. The stigma of driving a smelly, sooty, slow accelerating, noisy vehicle which made your hands and clothes smell when you filled the tank was too much to overcome. Add to this the premium cost of initial purchase and inability to get anyone other than the dealer to service the engine and it becomes difficult to convince buyers. Volvo and Peugot in the 70's and 80's had a low compression (18:1) diesel which smelled terrible, accelerated poorly, and due to lack of sympathetic service mechanics usually were fairly unrelible. VW and Mercedes never gave-up but their sales were quite slow and diesels owners became almost a cult. Because of the legislation to limit soot, both companies had to come up with particulate filters which needed frequent changing, plus as the compression ratio was upped to increase fuel efficiency, temperature and thus NOx emissions went through the roof which required heroic efforts to meet emission laws. Today's best diesel engines meet (for now at least) the soot and NOx limits set by CA, but there is every indication that new laws will be enacted to further limit soot, odor and efficiency.
The GM Duramax diesels seem to be pretty good. Their new 2.8 L V6 Duramax sounds promising. The original Olds 350 diesel was a disaster because GM rushed the engine market. It was a shame that it happened and that another manufacturer didn't jump in and fill the vacuum before the market totally soured. State and federal fuel taxes may prove to be a problem, but VW has been able to sell diesels. Hopefully, GM will have better luck this time around.
Tesla Motors plans to roll out a “compelling, affordable electric car” that will sell for about half the price of its high-profile Model S by the end of 2016, company chairman Elon Musk said last week.
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