Wednesday 15 January 2014

GM to revive 4.5-litre CGI diesel?

General Motors could be about to revive its shuttered 4.5-litre V8 diesel engine according to US sources.

Prompted by the upcoming launch of the latest Ram 1500 with a VM Motori 3-litre diesel and the Nissan Titan powered a brand new Cummins 5-litre ISX5 diesel engine, both with compacted graphite iron (CGI) vee cylinder blocks, and the latest Ford 2015 F-150 pick-up truck with a new 2.7-litre EcoBoost gasoline engine (also with a CGI vee block), GM is considering adding a small-displacement diesel engine to its Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 1500 pick-ups to boost fuel economy.

This would require the company to go to the back room and bring down from the shelves the V8 diesel engine on which it spent many millions of dollars.

Steve Kiefer, GM's vice president of global powertrain, said today at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit that all options are open, including possibly reviving a diesel engine that had been intended for GM trucks five years ago.

That engine, the 4.5-litre V8, was to be built in GM's Tonawanda engine plant in New York state. GM had advanced as far as clearing factory floor space and installing the transfer lines when financial problems caused the company to put the brakes on the engine.

"We are looking closely at diesel entrees in that segment," Kiefer is reported to have declared. "In fact, I heard the terms 'dust off' that 4.5-litre at one point. That is certainly one of the options. Clearly, we have a portfolio of diesel engines," he said.

GM's full-sized trucks were redesigned last year, so it is unlikely that that the bodies could be switched to aluminium until the next redesign in a bid to follow suit with Ford which claims it will save 700lb through the use of aluminium and CGI.

A diesel engine could give GM a high fuel economy option for its trucks much sooner.

Much depends on how quickly GM can resurrect the 4.5-litre. Certainly economic times in the US have much improved. Added to which, GM is no doubt ‘fired up’ by the competition. It has no wish to lose out sales in a fiercely competitive market.

Chrysler did more than launch a new vehicle when it created the latest Ram 1500, at least on the surface, it also sparked the competition into life Ford engineers in Dearborn have been planning the 2015 for some years and were quite certain of what they would do to ensure the F-150 held its prominent place in the North American pick-up truck market. In contrast, GM executives appear to have been caught with their trousers down. The General appears to have been sleeping at his post.

However, if GM executives give the ‘green light’ to the 4.5, which they may already have done, at least one foundry in North America will be looking forward to garnering some new business.