By John Lamm
DETROIT — While Volkswagen steps aside from diesel vehicles, Chevrolet is filling the void. Early next year, Chevy will launch the diesel version of its Cruze subcompact. The sedan model gets the oil burner first, the hatchback later in the year.
This is the same 1.6-liter turbo four diesel with 136 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque the automaker recently unveiled in its Equinox compact SUV. Cruze versions will have either a six-speed manual or General Motors’ new nine-speed automatic transmission.
Why now, when the VW emissions-cheating scandal has tarnished the image of diesels in the eyes of some? “There are a lot of diesel intenders and diesel-loyal people who are looking for a brand and vehicles to go after,” Dan Nicholson, GM’s vice president for global propulsion systems, toldAutomotive News.
“They tend to be more tech savvy than the average customer. And they won’t stop wishing for a diesel. And we’ll go after those customers.” He added, “I think the U.S. is one of the few diesel growth markets on the planet.”
Volkswagen, meanwhile, has announced it will cut 25,000 jobs over the next decade, many through retirements. The move is part of a cost-cutting program intended to help revive VW’s financial fortunes as it transitions from diesels to electric vehicles.