Chevy Becomes the First to Return to the U. S. Market with a Diesel Car to Invade the Germans

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  • History

    The last time Chevy offered a diesel engine in a car was with the outgoing Chevy Chevette in the mid-eighties. Fast forward a few decades, Chevy is the back in the game. This time they have returned with a diesel engine in its popular compact, the 2014 Cruze.  In fact, the Cruze becomes the first car outside of the German makes: Audi, BMW, Mercedes, and VW, offering a diesel in America. As a side note, Jeep is currently offering its first diesel in the non-car segment with the Grand Cherokee, while Dodge, Chevy and Ford have been players in the diesel light duty truck segment for years.

    And for those who may have some hesitation about Chevy taking on the diesel car segment, Chevy engineers are quick to say that the diesel engine that will be available in the Cruze has been tried and tested in Europe for close to two decades in their Opel cars, the automaker’s non-American brand. So, with this being the case, GM is ready to take on the American car segment again, this time with a fuel-efficient, odorless turbo diesel that will go head-to-head with the widely-popular VW Jetta TDI.

    Diesel Sales

    Ironically, over the past two years, diesel passenger cars have outsold diesel passenger trucks in the U.S, with only the Germans playing in this segment. This is supported by the fact that U. S. consumers purchased 101,624 and 125,222 clean diesel cars respectively in 2011 and 2102, according to hybridcars.com. From 2011 to 2012, diesel car sales rose by approximately 23,898 units. The Jetta TDI, which led the pack, accounted for 48,099 of the diesel cars that were sold last year, which equates to about 28 percent of the diesel car segment. With this type of growth, Chevy sees an opportunity to capture a percentage of those sales with the new Cruze diesel. Unfortunately, we were unable to get GM’s executives to reveal their actual sales goal for the compact Chevy.

    Initial Launch/Target Market

    Chevy’s Cruze diesel will be available initially in about 12-key states.  By the third quarter, the fuel-efficient Cruze will be available in all 50 states. Ironically, we found a Cruze diesel on the lot of a Chevy diesel this past weekend outside of metro Atlanta.

    In order to tackle the diesel segment again, Chevy’s vice president of marketing, Chris Perry, says the brand has put together a three-prong marketing approach.  First, Chevy plans on targeting military personnel, seeing that many of them that have spent time outside of the U. S. have a comfort zone with diesels. In fact, in Europe diesel cars dominate gasoline models, which is just the opposite here in the states. Next, Perry says Chevy plans on going after those consumers that own a diesel truck. In many cases, diesel truck owners are primed to own a diesel car. They are familiar with the durability, maintenance and the great gas mileage.

    Lastly, Chevy plans on doing what many will call the obvious, using some of their marketing dollars to go directly after VW Jetta TDI buyers.

    2014 Chevy Cruze Diesel Vs. 2013 Jetta TDI

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