California Autos Examiner

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Bob Lutz On Passenger Car Diesels For USA

Maximum Bob on GM's plans for diesel cars in the USA. No real news is uncovered here, as he states that the only way GM sees a 50 state legal diesel (EPA Tier 2 Bin 5 / CA LEV II ) is with a expensive after treatment (i.e. urea) and that HCCI should give most of the bang without the buck.

What's not covered in this clip is a followup question about Honda's forthcoming 50 state legal diesel that does not require a separate urea after treatment system. Instead, Honda's NOx catalytic converter utilizes a two-layer structure: one layer adsorbs NOx from the exhaust gas and converts a portion of it into ammonia, while the other layer adsorbs the resulting ammonia, and uses it later in a reaction that converts the remaining NOx in the exhaust into nitrogen (N2). Bob's response, not in the clip, seemed to indicate that he wasn't that familiar with Honda's technology: a somewhat troubling revelation in my opinion as Honda seems to have a pretty clever solution (provided it works, of course).

At the bottom of this post you can watch an earlier commentary by Mr. Lutz on diesel passenger cars in the USA. In this clip Bob does mention GM's forthcoming 4.5L diesel which will initially be used in its Hummer H2, light duty pickups and hopefully full size SUVs. Bob also does mention the possibility of diesel passenger cars, but only in a 45 state configuration.

I think that GM is pretty convinced that between flex fuel, various hybrids, fuel cell and HCCI they've got their bases covered in the USA. I imagine that GM could put in its 4.5L engine into passenger cars, such as the Pontiac G8, relatively quickly once production is ramped up if the need should arise.

Diesel engines are certainly a hot topic right now and it will be other manufactures who will be testing the diesel passenger car waters before GM sticks in its toes. Hopefully this wait and see attitude will not be a costly market/PR setback as was GM's delayed arrival into the hybrid game.

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