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In late 2008, when the U.S. economy went into freefall and GM stood on the edge of the precipice, any projects that weren’t core to the automaker’s survival were either canned or put on the back burner. One of the latter, was a light-duty version of the GM Duramax diesel, designed for the light duty 1/2 ton Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups. Now that truck sales are on the rebound, the idea of a light duty diesel engine is gaining traction once again. According to Mark Cieslak, Chief Engineer for GM’s full-size truck program, making the engine an option in HD trucks as well as the 1500 personal use models would give it a stronger business case. “The 4.5-liter V8 diesel is fully developed and ready, so if we wanted to, we could launch it in a hearbeat,” he said.
If GM were to make the 4.5-liter Duramax diesel available, even in the HD trucks, it would likely carry a premium over the gasoline fueled 6.0-liter Vortech V8. Recently; GM introduced a substantially updated line of HD pickups for the 2011 model year, with a more powerful 6.6-liter Duramax diesel, that’s rated at 397 horsepower and a whopping 765 ft-lbs of torque. And although HD pickups current don’t fall under the EPA’s tough new Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards laid out between now and 2016, the light duty Silverado and GMC do.
Offering the 4.5 as an option in those trucks would help towards GM’s overall fuel economy targets, while offering it in the larger trucks would give buyers a cheaper and less extreme alternative to the 6.6 diesel, which current carries a healthy $8,395 premium over the standard 6.0L gas Vortech V8.
General Motors has announced that it is putting a hold on a plan to bring a new 4.5-liter V8 diesel engine to market. The new engine would have been used in the light-duty Silverado and Sierra pickup trucks and estimates have it rated at anywhere from the mid-20s to the high-20s in miles per gallon. This would even be a significant improvement over GM’s current Silverado and Sierra hybrids, which get 21 mpg city and 22 highway.
The move is just one of many tough choices GM has had to make to cut costs ahead of a U.S. government decision to see if the struggling automaker will get an additional $16.6 billion in bailout funds.
What makes this pill even harder to swallow is that the new engine is just a year away from being ready for production – which would take place at GM’s Tonawanda, N.Y. plant.
As for the engine itself, it has a unique cylinder head design that eliminates intake and exhaust manifolds. The lightweight block also has “advanced castings” for the crankshaft-bearing journals and oil system.
GM secured several new patents in the design of the 4.5-liter diesel engine and it apparently is both as smooth and as quiet as a gasoline engine. With most of the ground-work already complete, General Motors has stated that it would be willing to work with another company on bringing the new diesel V8 to market if there were any reasonable offers.