GM Shows It’s Serious About Diesel With New Investments

General Motors

General Motors and joint venture partner Isuzu Motors Ltd. will be investing another $60 million in their U.S. diesel engine project, DMAX Ltd., which will allow for design changes in order to meet future emission requirements and hold on to 500 jobs at a plant in Moraine, Ohio.

DMAX was founded in 1998, and since its production began in 2000, it has produced more than 1.6 million diesel engine units for heavy-duty trucks in America, Reuters reports, adding that GM’s stake in the venture is 60 percent.

The plant — and the venture — produces the 6.6-liter Duramax turbo-diesel that is found in Chevrolet’s and GMC’s heavy-duty pickups and its cargo vans. The two companies have sunk $760 million into the venture since 2000; DMAX will also be producing the smaller 2.8-liter unit that will be found in the forthcoming Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon for the 2016 model year.

General Motors is also considering a diesel engine addition to its menu of engine options for the light-duty Silverados and Sierras, though it has not confirmed any plans to do so.

That decision may be accelerated sooner rather than later, however, as Ram Trucks — a brand under the Chrysler (FIATY.PK) umbrella — recently announced that its 3.0 EcoDiesel unit achieves a class-leading 28 miles per gallon on the highway, setting a new standard for the segment.

Additionally, Ford will be releasing the new F-150 pickup, which has been put on a serious aluminum diet, leading to hundreds of pounds in weight savings that will undoubtably boost its fuel efficiency, though without the use of a diesel.

Diesel is beginning to catch on en masse in the U.S., as manufacturers have been able to find ways around emissions restrictions to bring the added torque and efficiency of diesels to the mass market. Volkswagen AG (VLKAY.PK) has been especially active in that area, and Chevy even offers the Cruze diesel, its only non-truck unit to pack an oil-burner in the U.S.