If you're thinking that's a weird decision based on the state of diesel, both in the US and abroad, you're not alone. But according to Nicholson, the success of the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon diesels has emboldened GM to push its diesel agenda.
"We're selling every one we can make and our sales targets are on track," Nicholson told AN.
But will that demand carry over to a small sedan? That's open for debate, but we're not sold. Truck buyers and compact sedan buyers are very different sorts – one buys for capability and the other buys for economy. And while the Dieselrado is selling well, let's remember what the Cruze Diesel did in its first year on sale, 2014 – 5,974 units out of roughly 300,000 total. But while the mid-size pickup twins have exclusivity on their side – they're the only diesels in their class – the Cruze competed with the popular Jetta TDI.
With Volkswagen's suspension of TDI sales last fall, GM seems to be hoping the Cruze can tap into pent-up demand for a diesel compact and benefit from the same kind of exclusivity that GM's mid-size pickup trucks enjoy.
"There are a lot of diesel intenders and diesel-loyal people who are looking for a brand and vehicles to go after," Nicholson told Automotive News. "I am very optimistic about the diesel market in the US. It has been abandoned by others and we are happy to step in and be the leader. Frankly that's what we'd like to do."
The 1.6-liter diesel engine is already used in the Opel Astra, a mechanical twin to the new Cruze, where it makes up to 158 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Transferring the same engine, or a version of it, to the Cruze should only require some modifications to meet regulations. While GM preps a new Cruze Diesel for the US, it's also worth mentioning it's facing a class-action suit that accuses GM of installing cheat devices on first-gen Cruze Diesels and is demanding the company pay $2,000 to owners. GM said it will "vigorously defend itself" against the "baseless" allegations.