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Over the last several years, we've heard a lot of excuses from many auto executives as to why their companies aren't offering diesel engines in their American market cars. Yesterday, General Motors' Mark LaNeve, the company's vice president of sales and marketing, made an appearance on C-SPAN's Washington Journal. The final question of the segment came from a viewer wondering why GM has failed to offer U.S. consumers the chance to buy some of the high-mileage diesel cars it offers in Europe.
It would appear that LaNeve might have done better to take a pass on the question. Instead of talking about the cost of making those diesels meet U.S. emissions regulations or the difficulty in helping Americans overcome the misconceptions about the fuel, he claimed that no one has successfully cracked the diesel passenger nut in the U.S. (which based on VW's May sales appears to be wrong). More startlingly, LaNeve went on to claim that diesel is $1.25 a gallon more expensive than gasoline. According to the Energy Information Agency, the national average for diesel this week is $2.35 / gallon while regular gas is $2.52 or $0.17 more than diesel. Admittedly, the fact that diesel is now cheaper than 87 octane gas is a recent development (a trend that nobody is sure how long it will last), but – going on national television and quoting outdated fuel prices as a reason for your bankrupt company's business decisions... well, that doesn't strike us as a terribly hot idea.

You can hear the question and response at 20:30 into the video replay over at C-SPAN.

[Source: C-SPAN]


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  • 85 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      U.S. manufacturers are scared of the aftertreatment necessary to meet the strict emissions standards coming for passenger car diesels, plus the projected price increase in ULSD from new shipping regulations.

      Current tech is fragile and expensive - and it can't get past the beancounters and to the vehicle. : (
      • 5 Years Ago
      Can Obama fire this guy too?

        • 5 Years Ago
        I totally agree. I think we need to petition to have this obviously uninformed Auto Executive removed from his job. This is what would have happened to any one else in a regular job. I believe the people of the US have a say in in GM's upper management with our government being a major stakeholder in this company. Does anyone else agree?

        We need to clear out these old ignorant execs to make room for new brilliant ideas.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Of course, Obama is CEO of GM, Obama can do what ever he wishes.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Actually, diesel has historically been cheaper than gasoline. It was a temporary spike over the last year or two when it was more expensive.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The argument against bringing European cars to America due to the price is flawed.

      Diesel cars are some of the best sellers in the UK, and last time i checked, the cars AND the fuel were both more EXPENSIVE. Yet the demand is still there.

      I'm sure there is some intelligent people across the pond that realise that it may be more expensive, but with better MPG it evens out.

      Important parts capitalised for the idiot LaNeve....
        • 5 Years Ago
        The cars are not more expensive and the fuel is almost the same price. I've been there plenty of times.
        In Ireland diesel cars are actually cheaper and the fuel is 8 cent a litre cheaper.
      • 5 Years Ago
      You people don't understand how GM works at the big boy level. They are given cars...cars they pick out. Problem with the car, they call and new car appears in their parking spot. Car wash during winter...no problem. Hit black ice in the winter...oh sir...sorry what car would you like to replace...yes it will be in you space by Noon, so you car attend your lunch date. Gas card. We have Diesel cars...no, no no...some trucks maybe.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Mark was spot on. Diesel has been cheaper for 6 months now. In 2007 when the US switched the ULSD, the price skyrocketed and the economics didn't make sense.

      Remember kids, it takes years to get a car available to the public. That being said, I am impressed with what VW has done to bring that technology over here in a timely matter. GM is incapable of doing because of bureaucracy.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Agreed. Many of the companies should STOP quoting price differences as being a major reason why they're not actively pursuing diesel engines in their current product lineups. They should just admit that they're frightened-to-death about meeting diesel emissions in the US (and California); and that they'd rather run away from it by instead focusing on gas-electric & plug-in hybrid vehicles.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This guy totally botched the diesel issue. VW is selling jetta tdi's like hotcakes right now. We could import the technology that exists TODAY! Worst case, it's a strategy to bridge the gap between fossil fuels and hydrogen (or whatever is going to exist in the future). Best case, it's the way to hit the new CAFE standards NOW, without having to re-invent the wheel. I drove a VW Jetta TDI last week (the only one this particular dealer had left). I saw very very little difference in performance between the turbo diesel 2.0 and most other comparable gas vehicles I've driven recently (minus the high performance sports cars). And you can't beat the gas mileage efficiency. Hybrids scare me personally...what are we going to do with all these batteries when they have lived out their usefulness...I see a toxic mess in the future.
        • 5 Years Ago
        GM is not going to import VW engines. And GM has no Diesel engine that passes US emissions. So it would take some development money to import Diesels from Europe for them.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Fellas, he's right! The American consumer doesn't want overpriced $22,000 quality diesel engined cars, they want a $40,000 electric crap box that drives like a $15,000 econo mobile. Long live the Volt!!!!!!
      • 5 Years Ago
      With guys as clueless as this is there really any wonder why GM is in the position its in?
        • 5 Years Ago
        @dukeisduke "I'm stunned. Doesn't LaNeve ever buy his own gas? Every time I buy gas, I scan all the prices, including diesel.I"

        No, he does not. When he's not flying in a corporate jet, he's having someone drive him around in a limo.

        No, he does not buy his own gas.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The reason that the US has almost no diesel cars has nothing to do with GM (GM makes lots of perfectly good diesel cars overseas) and everything to do with the EPA and CARB making it nearly impossible to sell a diesel automobile in the US.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Dear GM,

      Please keep Mark LaNeve off any online web or broadcast appearances.
      He should not be the FACE of the NEW GM. Lets start looking for a fresh, modern face to do the talking for the corporation.

      just a bit of advice, take it or leave it.
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