GM Doubles Down On Diesel For Light Trucks & SUVs

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We here at CleanTechnica get dozens if not hundreds of e-mails a day from public relations flacks who want to pitch us a story. Sometimes you have to wonder if they have ever visited our site or have any idea what our mission is.

Here’s a recent example. Monday morning I got a message telling me about a confab hosted by the Washington Automotive Press Association which brought together a bunch of industry types to talk about the wonders of diesel power. I kid you not. That was the topic of the e-mail I received, so I decided to run with it, but probably not in the way the public relations people intended.

The e-mail was from the Diesel Technology Forum, an organization “where current and prospective diesel drivers can make the most of their clean diesel experience — a veritable hub of resources and the most up to date information available.” Nothing like a “veritable hub” to brighten your day, so I clicked on the link provided and discovered a multi-colored infographic, complete with some tortured syntax.

At the event in DC, Dr. Pierpaolo Antonioli, GM’s executive director of the Global Propulsion Systems – Diesel sector, told the audience, “The diesel propulsion system remains a key component of GM’s vehicle lineup, with 13 different models offering diesel as an option. Consumers around the globe continue to ask for diesel options, especially in our pick-up truck and SUV offerings, where diesel can offer outstanding fuel economy and the range they demand.”

Not to be outdone, Mike Siegrist, GM’s regional chief engineer, took the podium to say, “In the U.S. and Canada, the introduction of the Chevrolet Colorado diesel mid-size pickup and the GMC Terrain diesel compact SUV have proven to be a success. Our diesel centers of expertise in Italy and the United States, where all our diesel engines are engineered, are poised to continue serving the world’s diesel market for years to come.”

“As we heard today, automakers have confidence in diesel technology as a choice for powering tomorrow’s cars, SUVs, trucks and vans,” added Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum. “The bottom line is this: consumers want choices, and diesel is one of those choices. It provides an unparalleled combination of power, torque and fuel efficiency. Add to that modern diesel’s environmental benefits — improved emissions controls and the ability to run on renewable diesel fuels and biodiesel — and you have a winning combination that consumers will demand for years to come.”

The words that should send a shudder through all those reading this are “for years to come.” Both Mike Siegrist and Allen Schaeffer are convinced their beloved diesel engines will be spewing out carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur pollutants until our grandchildren are of college age. Oh, the joy. I should point out that the word “diesel” was capitalized throughout the e-mail like it was a deity that clueless humans should worship. You may have other ideas on that subject.

It seems like just yesterday that GM CEO Mary Barra took to LinkedIn to make this pronouncement: “The good news is that our generation has the ambition, the talent and the technology to realize the safer, better and more sustainable world we want. General Motors has committed itself to leading the way toward this future, guided by our vision of zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion.” Actually, it wasn’t “just yesterday,” it was just last week.

Which raises the question, is Barra deliberately blowing sunshine up our skirts or does she really not know what’s going on in the corporations she heads? It’s understandable if she doesn’t. GM is a multi-headed hydra with far flung operations around the globe — what’s left of it after millions of diesel powered vehicles have accumulated billions of pollution filled miles over the decades. Maybe it’s not possible for one person to know everything such a large business is doing.

But that’s no excuse. As I penned in a recent article about Amazon ordering 20,000 gasoline and diesel powered delivery vans from Mercedes, we can’t sit back and wait for the era of fossil fueled transportation to end. We can no longer be complacent and accept “business as usual” bromides.

Mary Barra has a Twitter account — @MTBarra. Now that you know that, you might want to send her a note and tell her how you feel about GM’s plans to continue polluting your world “for years to come.” And be sure to tell her CleanTechnica sent you!

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new."

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