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LA show: Finally, America wakes up to diesel

Innovator: Chevrolet's version of the Colorado ute will get diesel alongside its petrol engine mainstays.

Chevrolet to join rest of the world by adding diesel to Colorado range in 2015

Chevrolet logo22 Nov 2013

By RON HAMMERTON in LOS ANGELES

GENERAL Motors this week announced a great innovation in the one-tonne ute marketplace in North America – a diesel engine.

That's right, its new Chevrolet Colorado is set to pioneer an oil-burner powertrain in the United States, becoming the first major player in the segment to do so.

Even the Toyota Tacoma – the pick-up that takes the place of the HiLux there and the Colorado's major rival – is powered exclusively by petrol engines.

But GM is not rushing into this major change – the Thai-built 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel is not due in the Colorado until some time in 2015.

In fact, the Colorado shown at the Los Angeles motor show this week is not due in showrooms for the best part of a year, as a 2015 model, and will be built in GM's St Louis plant.

Globally, diesels totally dominate one-tonne pick-up sales. In Australia, the Holden Colorado is exclusively powered by the same 2.8-litre diesel, and major rivals such as the Ford Ranger and Mazda BT-50 also do not offer a petrol alternative in the current generation.

The Chevrolet Colorado is based on the global Colorado made in Thailand and Brazil and sold in Australia as the Colorado, but has major revisions to suit the American market and consumer tastes, including new sheet-metal and a different cabin treatment.

Initially it will be offered with a choice of GM's ubiquitous 2.5-litre four-cylinder and 3.6-litre V6 petrol engines, all hooked up to a six-speed automatic transmission.

The diesel will follow in the second year of the Colorado's model life, meeting what GM sees as an increasing demand for such engines in North America where diesel sales are on the rise in passenger cars too.

Full-sized American pick-ups such as the top-selling Ford F-Series already offer diesel engines, including massive V8 units favoured for heavy towing.

But, for reasons of customer preference and cheap petrol, diesels have passed the one-tonne segment by until now.

The new Colorado was unveiled at the LA show by GM North America president Mark Reuss who got a good insight into the potential success of diesel when he was chairman and managing director of GM Holden a few years ago.

“GM has some great diesels around the world,” he enthusiastically told a flock of American motoring journalists who could not be more disinterested.

He told GoAuto he was excited about the prospects for diesel in such vehicles in the American market, but he declined to take a stab at the the percentage of diesel sales in Colorado.

The Colorado will be sold in 2x4 and 4x4 configurations, in extended cab and crew cab body configurations.

The new US Colorado's bragging right will be best-in-class towing capacity and fuel economy.

One innovation that Holden product planners could do well to emulate is a nifty foot step built into rear bumper as an aid for climbing into the rear tray Mr Reuss said this simple but handy feature would become a Chevrolet standard.

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