GM Announces Production of New 4.5-Liter Duramax Diesel V8 for Light Duty Pickups
By: Mike LevinePosted: 06-15-07 11:50 PT
© 2007

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Update #1: 06-24-07 23:47 PT

Automotive News is reporting, "With a 4.5-liter diesel, a six-speed automatic and a couple of other tweaks, [a two-wheel drive Chevrolet Silverado] can achieve close to 30 mpg highway."

In the same story, the 4.5-liter is compared to the existing 5.3-liter gas V8, that's rated at 22-mpg highway.

So, let's take out the calculator.

Assuming that diesel fuel continues to enjoy its current $.20 cost advantage over regular unleaded gas - a long shot given home heating oil demand, but let's use for sake of argument - and that the 4.5-liter achieves 29-mpg while carrying a $5,700 price premium over the gas engine, it would take approximately 135,000-miles to break even on the new diesel engine. That's not an unreasonable amount of miles to rack up on a full size pickup - especially one used for work. And there's bound to be even greater value for a 4.5-liter buyer if they tow or haul often versus the gas engine.

There may be some help available from the federal government to reduce the baby DMAX's price premium. At least for first year sales.

According to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), each automaker has a limited number (60,000) of tax credits that can be earned by consumers for vehicles that achieve greater fuel economy and save fuel. The credits last through 2010 for diesel vehicles meeting Tier 2 Bin 5 emissions requirements.

Fuel economy improvement is measured against a weight-dependent, model year 2002 baseline, with tiered credits starting at 25% over the baseline fuel economy. With each 25% improvement over the baseline fuel economy up to a maximum of 250%, the tax credit increases by $400.

A "conservation credit", designed to boost the amount of credit available for vehicles in the heavier weight classes, is available as well. A vehicle qualifies for the credit if it is expected to save at least 1,200 gallons over its lifetime relative to a vehicle achieving the baseline fuel economy for that weight class. For each additional 600 gallons of gasoline savings up to a maximum of 3,000 gallons, the vehicle earns $250 in tax credits.

Combining the two components, the maximum available credit is $3,400. However, once a manufacturer sells 60,000 qualifying vehicles, the tax credit is phased out over a period of fifteen months for vehicles that manufacturer produces.

We're estimating that 4.5-liter buyers could qualify for at least $650 in tax credits.

Stay tuned!

General Motor's Tonawanda plant, just outside Buffalo, New York, will be the birthplace of GM's new 4.5-liter Duramax Diesel V8. The automaker is investing $100-million in the facility to produce the new engine.

The clean emissions light duty oil burner will find a place in the engine compartments of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra half-ton pickups by the 2010 model year. It's expected to be rated in excess of 310-horsepower and 520 pound-feet of torque. In comparison, the 6.6-liter Duramax, currently used in GM's heavy duty pickup, is rated at 365-hp / 660 lb-ft.

GM powertrain spokesperson Tom Reid tells that even though it shares the Duramax name with the older 6.6-liter engine - which has been engineered and produced in partnership with Isuzu Motors - the new diesel is 100% designed by GM and will be built without Isuzu's involvement.

GM's global rival, Toyota, became an investor in Isuzu last year, which gave it access to the same engineers that helped develop the 6.6-liter engine.

The new Duramax is expected to help General Motors keep its lead in light duty pickup fuel economy and appeal to both commercial and lifestyle truck buyers looking to save money at the pump. The cost of diesel fuel has recently had up to a $.50 cent per gallon cost advantage over gasoline in certain parts of the U.S..

Mr. Reid says, "We haven't determined what percentage of sales the new engine will be, but we know it's destined to be popular."

GM's press release below:

TONAWANDA, N.Y. – General Motors Corp. will introduce a new, state-of-the-art 4.5L V-8 Duramax turbo-diesel that improves engine fuel efficiency by 25 percent, reduces CO2 emissions by 13 percent and cuts particulates and NOx emissions by at least 90 percent for North American light duty trucks and the HUMMER H2 built after 2009.

The premium V-8 diesel is expected to deliver class-leading torque, power and refinement while maintaining a significant fuel efficiency advantage over comparable-output gasoline engines.

The new dual-overhead cam, four-valve V-8 diesel engine will fit within the same space of a small-block V-8 gasoline engine. This compact size is made possible by using integral cylinder head exhaust manifolds, integral cam cover intake manifolds and a narrow block.

“This new GM light duty diesel is expected to become a favorite among customers who require excellent towing ability and fuel efficiency,” said Tom Stephens, group vice president, GM Global Powertrain and Quality. “It will meet the stringent 2010 emissions standards, and it will be compliant in all 50 states, making it one of the cleanest diesel vehicles ever produced.”

Environmental benefits of the new engine include a 13-percent reduction in CO2 versus gasoline engines, and at least a 90-percent reduction in particulates and NOx compared to diesel vehicles today. This will be GM’s first engine to use a selective catalytic reduction NOx aftertreatment system with a diesel particulate filter to help achieve the Tier 2 Bin 5 and LEV 2 emissions standards.

Technical highlights of the engine include aluminum cylinder heads with integrated manifolding; a variable-vane turbocharger with intercooling; a Compacted Graphite Iron (CGI) block for a stronger and lighter engine base (compared to lower-strength aluminum or heavier grey cast iron); and fracture-split main bearing caps and connecting rods for a precise fit. An electronically controlled, ultra-high-pressure, common-rail fuel system is used, which has the ability to inject fuel five times per combustion event to control noise and emissions.

“This new V-8 is not only a clean diesel meeting the toughest emissions requirements in North America, it also delivers an effortless performance feel because of its high torque across the speed range,” said Charlie Freese, executive director of GM Powertrain Diesel Engineering. “It is also significantly quieter than other diesels on the road today, with noise and vibration performance approaching gasoline V-8 levels.”

Freese said the new V-8’s compact size enables it to fit in the envelope of a gasoline small-block engine, which provides GM the flexibility to introduce this engine in a wide variety of vehicle applications should there be future market demand.

The premium V-8 diesel engine is expected to deliver class-leading refinement, horsepower and torque and fulfill multiple vehicle applications with ratings in excess of 310 horsepower and 520 lb-ft of torque.

GM (Opel, Saab, Vauxhall and GMDAT ) currently offers 17 diesel engine variants in 45 vehicle lines around the world. GM sells more than one million diesel engines annually, with products that offer a range of choices from the 1.3L four-cylinder diesel engine sold in the Opel Agila and Corsa, up to the 6.6L V-8 Duramax diesel sold in full-size vans, heavy duty pickups and medium duty trucks in the U.S.

GM first introduced the Duramax diesel 6.6L V-8 in the U.S. in the 2001 model year and since then, customer enthusiasm for this heavy duty diesel has been outstanding. In fact, GM’s heavy duty pickup truck market share has jumped nearly tenfold in the six years that Duramax engines have been offered.

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