• Apr 20th 2013 at 10:15AM
  • 134
The Chevy Cruze diesel, on display at the Chicago Auto ... The Chevy Cruze diesel, on display at the Chicago Auto Show. (AutoBlog)
Just in time for Earth Day, General Motors' Chevrolet division says that the clean-diesel version of its Cruze sedan coming out this year will get 46 mpg in highway driving, four more miles per gallon than it projected last February.

The announcement is important for Chevrolet because exceptionally high fuel economy ratings tend to get the attention of buyers, and, say auto industry analysts, convey quality and technical prowess to consumers. The diesel Cruze is rated at 27mpg in city driving, and 33 mpg in mixed driving.

The highway rating is important, as many who grind a lot of highway miles are attracted to such high ratings. How does the diesel Cruze compare with the Toyota Prius Hybrid? The Prius gets 51 mpg city and 48mpg highway. The Prius costs $24,200. The Cruze diesel costs $24, 885.

While "clean diesel" vehicles are common in Europe, they have been slow to catch on the U.S. These vehicles, sold mostly in the U.S. by German automakers Volkswagen, Audi, BMW and Mercedes, can get between 25% to 35% better fuel economy than gasoline counterparts. But diesel fuel can be, and usually is, more expensive than gasoline, making it a tough sell to many buyers. Diesel cars also typically carry a price premium, too, of around $2,500-$3,000.

Automakers are bringing out more clean diesel vehicles in the hopes that consumers come around. Selling more more diesel vehicles will help automakers achieve the 54.5 Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard set by the government, which has to be reached by 2020 unless it gets rolled back by Congress and the next White House administration.

Besides Chevy, Mazda is launching a clean diesel version of the Mazda6 this year. Audi, BMW and Mercedes are launching additional diesel models. Volkswagen builds its Passat sedan in Tennessee now, and between 40% and 50% of the production is diesel-powered versions sold under the Passat brand.

The Benefits of Diesel

For drivers, fuel economy is not the only benefit. Diesel engines are incredibly durable. It's not uncommon for diesel engines to last well beyond 200,000 miles with only normal maintenance. Additionally, diesel drive-trains provide great low-end torque (the power available to the engine at low revs), and they make a four-cylinder engine feel like they deliver the power of a six-cylinder.

GM isn't looking for big volume for the Cruze diesel. It is more of a "test-the-water" venture to see how customers respond. Success could But nudge the maker to add more diesels, says Mark Reuss, president of North American Operations. "There is, fundamentally, a place for diesel here," he said.

Because Chevy is such a high-volume car seller, the launch of the diesel Cruze could be a game changer on engine and fuel technology that too few U.S. car buyers understand. "Without a doubt, 2013 is the most exciting and important year in the history of clean diesel autos in the U.S.," says Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum, an industry trade group based in Washington, D.C.

Whether Chevy's brand power really does boost consumer acceptance is hard to predict. Chevy was first to market with an extended range electric vehicle, the Volt, and sales have been disappointing.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      Harold Glueck
      • 2 Years Ago
      I suppose GM hopes that everyone they screwed with the 350 diesel in '78/'79 are all dead or have dimentia.
      • 2 Years Ago
      the new diesel does not stink, is more efficient and gets better gas mileage. Why it costs more is something to consider since it requires lthe least amount of refining. American makers have not cared much for the diesel market, other than trucks and the diesel pickup trucks in America are certainly qualifty and dependable. Not long ago diesel was cheap compared to gas, but not its very expensive to use.
      Paul Castle
      • 2 Years Ago
      Why would anyone buy a diesal when the cost of fuel for them is 30 to 50 cents more a gallon than gas. You would have to get a tremendous fuel mileage to make up the difference. In this day and time no auto maker ;uts a vehicle on the road that does this. Aluminum heads will desinigrate under the pressuer.
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Paul Castle
        Paul, the GM Duramax diesel engine has an iron block and aluminum heads. When these first came out I was more concerned with thermal differential of expansion. They seem to have worked well.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Paul Castle
        Diesel in our Twon is Only 8 cents More Per Gal and It comes with a 100,000 mile warranty I want to Know, how that Compares to the HYBRIDS of Chevy and FORD? My MKZ hybrid ave 40 mpg and Don't have to Plug it in, either.. has a 4cycl Gas Engine But we mostly do only Local Driving , rarely on hwy's In Europe, Most ot the Driving there is Considered to Our Local Driving, not alot of Super Hwys
      • 2 Years Ago
      I really think the theory behind this story is wrong. The Cruze is one of Chevy's (world cars) and in a good part of this world diesel sales meet or pass gasoline sales and Chevy is trying to get a piece of this. Selling the car here is just an afterthought.
        • 2 Years Ago
        While I find your whackadoodle logic amusing, 47, Chevy is on to something called reality. I will dismiss your uninformed comment as an afterthought. All three U.S. automakers sell 'world' cars. You don't have to believe this statement but here it is: they build better cars in Europe than here in the U.S. Chevrolet sees the handwriting on the proverbial wall. Hybrids are still smoke and mirrors while the diesel engine has only gotten better over the last several decades. Most Americans, unfortunately, buy the BS about the stereotype diesel cars. Chevy says you can't fix or repair stupid caused by misinformation but it is possible to change minds. BTW, I think diesel autos outnumber petrol engine autos world-wide.
          • 2 Years Ago
          lol, Ono, gotta love your so called 'whackadoodle' stinkin thinkin! since you say 'they build better cars in Europe than here in the U.S. ' well golly gee! that doesnt do us any good now does it,, I guess you have a hard time at math also,, since the chevy cruze eco with manual transmission gets 42MPG, and a MORE expensive chevy cruze diesel is to get 42MPG! hmmm,, NO BRAINER HUH!!
      • 2 Years Ago
      til I looked at the draft of $5534, I accept that...my... friend had been truly making money in their spare time on-line.. there sisters neighbour has done this for under 12 months and as of now paid for the debts on their home and purchased a great McLaren F1. we looked here, Great60.com
      • 2 Years Ago
      Worked at Chrysler Engineering in the early 70's. The engine development guys put a diesel head on a beefed up slant six and ran it on the engine dyno 7/24 for weeks untill one of the injector lines started to leak. Makes you wonder sometimes.
        • 2 Years Ago
        Move to China --- they fight our wars and support us so well my friend
      • 2 Years Ago
      Well with this new Cruze which has been in production for a few years now in other countries, I believe, will be a great vehicle for those who want to save on fuel. Many claim that the 46 mpg rating is a conservative number compared to what it can actually achieve.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Wonder why it's only the US who is so afraid of Diesel while other countries with far stricter emission laws have as many Diesel cars as gasoline. Diesel is cheaper to manufacture and burns cleaner than gasoline yet in the USA it's more expensive.
        • 2 Years Ago
        Tax,the goverment raised the tax on it thinking only the truckers would get screwed
          • 2 Years Ago
          Trucks are the things that beat up the roads. They need to pay their fair share. Don't give me that told line "it got here on a truck". I know that we just have to make sure they pay their way.
      Forest Chump
      • 2 Years Ago
      This SEEMS to good to be true. If true AND this Chevy holds up for more taht five (5) years, it's great... Time will tell - hype, fantacy, truth?
      • 2 Years Ago
      The problem that I see with the new diesel chevy cruse is that the fuel will cost anywhere between 25 to 50 cents a gallon more than regular gasoline.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Chevy already has the Volt, which blows away a Prius. We use one as a delivery car the has already 15k miles and only refilled the tank 3 times. A diesel is a great option, not only great milage but more power and reliability than a Hybrid. Most Americans may not understand the benefits of diesel vehicles , but the Europeans have been using them for decades.
        • 2 Years Ago
        The only drawback is the cost of fuel. Without pushing a pencil the mileage is so much higher that I guess it would seem to cover that fact.
      • 2 Years Ago
      And, there is no reason for diesel to cost more than gasoline at the pump, other than greed. Oil companies know, the average driver never even thinks about the cost of diesel because, their cars use gasoline. So the oil companies have jacked up the price of diesel knowing farmers and truckers are the ones burning it and, they just pass the cost on. Your local grocery and big box stores are then passing it on to the consumer. The consumer is paying for all of that overpriced diesel but, never complains because they aren't paying for it directly. Because of this, the oil companies have been able to rape the public and the public doesn't even complain.
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