Sunday, March 17, 2013

Diesel Cruze: A Great Engine in the Wrong Car

2013 Cruze, photo Copyright General Motors
By Cliff Strong of "Cliff's Corner"

It has been several months since I felt sufficiently motivated to guest write for my favorite auto blog. Leave it to my former employer, General Motors to supply the motivation for my latest contribution. I hope you enjoy.

In case you missed it, GM is touting their new Cruze diesel which appeared at the Chicago Car Show. Seems GM missed the deadline to introduce the new Cruze diesel at the Detroit Car Show. Had GM been in charge of NASA, we still wouldn’t have made it to the Moon yet. GM has yet to find a deadline they couldn’t miss. I guess consistency CAN have a downside.

But, there it was in Chicago. And to give credit where credit is due, the GM propaganda machine was functioning on all cylinders, doing what it does better than any PR organization in the industry, if not, the planet. Proclaiming that the new Cruze diesel will be a tremendous hit and an instant competitor to the only other family of popularly priced diesel cars sold here in the US; the Volkswagen Golf, Beetle and Jetta. Talking endlessly how Diesels are more popular in Europe than gasoline engines (the Europeans call gasoline “Petrol”). However, what any good PR wouldn’t mention is the fact that Diesel is heavily subsidized in Europe and costs on average 40 cents a gallon LESS than Petrol. Unlike the States where Diesel fuel costs on average 65 cents per gallon MORE than gasoline. Maybe it was in the fine print and I missed it. I hear once you get over 50, your eyes start to go. Or so my children have told me.

However, being over 50 and a former GM’er, I couldn’t help hearing in the distance the echoes of GM’s PR machine proclaiming at the introduction of the now but all forgotten J-Cars back in the 80’s (i.e. Chevy Cavalier and Cadillac Cimarron) “would blow the Japanese back across the Pacific”. Or, so we were told. Only to be topped by the introduction of the Saturn Car Company that again, quoting the PR machine, “will have the Japanese car companies packing their bags for Japan”. 0 for 2.