The diesel engine, long popular on European roads, is now piquing the interest of American automakers. General Motors rolled out a diesel version of the Chevy Cruze in 2013, and says there’s more to come. Chrysler recently put its v-6 EcoDiesel in the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Ford is said to be contemplating a diesel for its Focus sedan.
But while diesel engines have rarely been designed into American passenger cars and light trucks in the past, there have been a very small number out there. Oldsmobile produced a family of diesel engines in the 1980s and the Chevy Chevette employed a diesel around the same time.
We’ve collected photos of diesels in American passenger cars. From the Olds Cutlass and Chevy Chevette to the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Chevy Cruze, we offer a peek at American diesels, past and present.
Click on the image below to start the slideshow.
Oldsmobile introduced a family of diesel engines, including the 5.7-liter V-8 LF9, between 1978 and 1985. The LF9 was said to be the world’s first diesel V-8 designed for passenger cars.
The GM introduction of the disel in the 80's was a joke. They took a gasoline engine, which is not strong enough, and made it run like a diesel. The engines could not take teh additional stress and failed. This left a bad taste in the mouths of consumers. The taste may be gone by now and diesels should be a part of America's fuel economy kick.
Diesel engines have come a long way. The load they bear is for more than electric or petrol engines.
Beside during launch severel problems can be faced by any company for any product and GM is no exception.
I wasn't even aware of the reliability issues when I looked at diesels in 80s, I just couldn't get past the poor performance. The diesel vehicle I had looked at seriously was a VW and it had the performance of a golf cart. At the time I had a Ford Fiesta, so I was used to sub-compacts, and Ford had done an excellent job with the Fiesta powerplant. The VW diesel was just terrible.
You guys across the pond might like to know there's been a lot of discussion here in the UK (& the rest of Europe, I believe) about the wisdom of the enthusiastic adoption of diesel vehicles. Concerns centre on the fine particulate emitted from the exhausts. Turns out these are quite damaging and may be affecting the lungs, particularly children and those with existing lung condition (asthmatics, etc.).
The feeling over here is we may have made a mistake and should stick to either petrol (gasoline), petrol-electric/electric vehicles. It may be in the near future, steps are taken to discourage diesel ownership.
Usually, the States leads on things like this but, then again, diesel usage in the States has never been great - for passenger vehicles anyway.
The VW diesel was an excellent engine for its era. From 1987 to 1993 I commuted biweekly between COS and ABQ, about a 6 hour, 390 mile drive even today. Fuel economy was over 40 mpg for the diesel while my gas VW Rabbit got ~32 mpg. Remember cars of that era (1980) were designed for the national speed limit of 55 mph.
The main problem was cold weather starting. The car still sets on our Nebraska farm since we couldn't start it after a cold (-20°F) December morning after our mother's funeral in 1989.
About 10 years ago, I rented a Diesel powered Ford Focus in France for 3 weeks. I loved that car and would buy one here in the states if I could get one in a heartbeat. It sipped fuel, had plenty of pep, and the only time you knew it was a Diesel was at idle. Fantastic car.
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