How Fiat Helped The US Chevy Cruze Diesel Become Cleaner Than Euro Versions

In deciding to venture into the comparatively narrow and competitive “clean diesel” market dominated by Volkswagen, the Chevy Cruze relies on a Fiat-derived engine that’s cleaner than what some Euro versions of the Cruze get.

General Motors states the Cruze diesel engine – which beats several hybrids in terms of fuel efficiency – and which is now being more directly compared to the VW Jetta diesel, is “the cleanest ever produced by GM.”

In Europe, GM also reportedly relies on Daewoo-derived engines, but the Cruze’s 2.0-liter turbo-diesel powerplant that meets the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) stringent Tier 2 Bin 5 emissions standards is the result of a former alliance between GM and Fiat.

According to Road&Track, a little more than a decade ago, GM and Fiat sought to merge, but that marriage didn’t last. A holdover from that attempt however is GM’s powertrain facility in Turin, Italy that builds a number of engines in a German plant.

GM calls the engine category that includes the diesel used in the U.S. Cruze, “Family B.”

Chevrolet-Cruze-Diesel

So, rather than a 1.7-liter or 2.0-liter Daewoo diesel that R&T says has received praise by the European press and that are sold in other markets including Europe, Americans are being wooed by GM’s engine that also meets the strict Euro VI emissions standards that are going into effect this year.

Other GM products in Europe that receive the Family B diesel are the Opel Astra and Insignia, and Chevy Malibu, and GM spokesman Tom Read says this was part of the plan for the U.S. market Cruze turbo diesel from its inception.

Since GM decided to launch this engine, GM has according to Wards Auto also waged a marketing campaign to erase myths about sooty, foul-smelling diesels that are potentially bad for the environment and human health.

And, the company – as do many automakers – has been spacing out sound-bite-sized snippets of info highlighting technical advantages of its product now attempting to get a leg up in the marketplace.

In a press release today, the technical highlight du jour happens to be the engine’s variable-swirl intake design which takes the air and fuel and blends it into what GM colorfully terms a “perfect storm.”

The variable-swirl intake manifold design sees each cylinder having two separate intake ports, with one of them controlled by a valve.

Each throttle valve varies how much it opens to create mixture-motion of air and fuel within each cylinder.

General Motors’ says its powertrain team devoted countless hours to calibrating the actuator to precisely open and close the valves for optimal performance.

“Variable swirl helps put the ‘clean’ in Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel. It increases the mixture-motion of air and fuel in low-speed, low-load driving, like when you’re doing the commuter crawl to work every day,” said Mike Siegrist, 2.0-liter turbo diesel assistant chief engineer. “It contributes to Cruze Diesel’s great fuel economy, and helps give drivers the most torque for the least amount of fuel at the lowest emission and noise levels.”