General Motors Co.’s (NYSE: GM) largest division, Chevrolet, has released the new diesel version of its Cruze. The 2017 Cruze Diesel Sedan gets 52 miles per gallon, which makes it the most fuel-efficient car sold in America, with the exception of hybrids and electronic vehicles. The new car shows that diesel technology, left for dead after cheating scandals that hit the industry, may not be dead. However, it still faces the popularity of cars like the Chevy Bolt and Toyota Motor Corp.’s (NYSE: TM) Prius.
Allen Schaeffer, the Executive Director of the Diesel Technology Forum, described the milestone:
For Chevy to break the 50-mpg barrier with its new Cruze Diesel Sedan sends a very strong message about the possibilities for clean diesel as a competitive technology in the fuel economy race. And the accomplishment is made even more impressive that it achieved it under a more stringent EPA emissions testing regime.
Diesel engines are very popular in Europe. However, for many years those engines had been considered dirty air polluters. New fuels and new engine technology changed that. Even with the drawbacks of Volkswagen’s infamous fuel economy cheat, few disagreed that diesel engines had made a leap in the right direction.
The hurdle Chevy faces is that the market already has moved toward hybrids. Many of the major models of every top-selling car have hybrid versions. This trend was kicked off by the Toyota Prius, which was launched in 1998. Sales of the liftback version of the car have totaled over 3.7 million worldwide since then.
Electronic vehicles, at least in mass production, are a more recent set of competitors. While Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) has gotten most of the press surrounding this technology, cars like the Volt have cracked the $40,000 barrier on the way down. This makes EV available to a wide segment of the population.
The Cruze Diesel Sedan may be the future of the technology. Now, Chevy has to find a way to market that technology, which has gotten a bad name recently.