Chevy has announced that a diesel-powered Cruze will be available in North America-but not until sometime in 2013. No details were given on how much power, torque, or fuel economy we can expect from an oil-burning Cruze. A diesel powered Cruze is currently available in Europe. Seeing as the gas powered Cruze Eco, available here now, gets a stellar 42mpg on the EPA Highway cycle, Chevy must have very high hopes on what a diesel Cruze can attain. Otherwise, why bother?
What, you mean no hybrid, you ask? I see three reasons why we’re not going to see a Cruze hybrid in the near future:
1. From the start, Chevy has marketed the Cruze Eco as a conventionally powered car that delivers near-hybrid like fuel economy without the added cost, weight, and concern over battery life. Rolling out a hybrid would be a rolling contradiction.
2. Cost. A diesel engine that bolts right into a Cruze already exists. Which do you think costs less, legalizing that engine to meet US emissions, or developing a hybrid drivetrain?
3. Toyota. Or, Honda. Both, actually. Face it-Toyota OWNS the hybrid market. Sure, there’s a Civic Hybrid out there, but it is a slow seller, and one of the reasons is that it looks just like any other Civic. As of June 30, 2011, Honda sold 2,433 Civic Hybrids so far this year in the US, which is less than .02% of total Civic sales. Compare that to the 66,520 Toyota Prius’ soldÃ‚Â in the same span of time (and nearly six times the number of Honda Insights sold!), and the choice for going diesel for better mileage is an obvious choice.
So, a Cruze diesel makes pretty good sense. For years, diesel-powered VW Jettas have been the only game in town for a compact, four door diesel, so I am anxious to see how a new player to a market owned by the Jetta will do. I personally find the Cruze more interesting to look at, inside and out than the current Jetta. The Jetta’s TDI engine is a gem, though, so whatever Chevy offers had better be good. If they can match the Jetta TDI for power, refinement, and economy, at a good price, the Cruze diesel has the potential to do well here. And Chevy, if you’re listening-if you’re going to woo the VW diesel faithful, you MUST offer a manual transmission! Just sayin’.