REPORTING FROM DETROIT
Diesel news from the North American International Auto Show and highlights from the Dakar Rally
We stoically braved the wintry January cold and headed off to the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) at the Cobo Center in Detroit, Michigan, psyched to talk to manufacturers about their recently announced diesel engines. That meant an update from ram, more information from ford, and( hopefully) both mazda and hyundai. we were taken totally by surprise, as were most reporters, by General Motors' announcement of an allnew 3.0-liter diesel engine for the all-new Silverado.
At Ram, the legal battles, while delaying some sales, had a positive outcome. According to a Ram spokesperson, “EPA measurement methodology changed. This affected the entire automobile industry, not only diesel engines...” In the case of the Ram 1500 Ecodiesel, its highway-cycle rating changed to 27 mpg, as anticipated, from 28 mpg. City and combined-cycle ratings remained unchanged at 20 and 23, respectively. But “all three ratings were still best-in-class,” we were told. Since summer, all Ram diesels for both light- and heavy-duty were/are certified for sale. (Heavy-duty diesels didn’t go under the judicial knife and were always on sale.)
Ram did announce an upgraded diesel engine for model year 2019, but there are zero details available as yet. That’s future product info that the company is not yet discussing, according to our internal contacts. We don’t expect any details until fall, but will scout the 2018 SAE show in April for information.
What was abundantly clear is they have an all-new Ram 1500 that redefines the ultra-bold Ram front end. Like it or not, sophistication has tamed the wild Ram, easily observable at the sleek front end with its chiseled Ram’s head logo. It’s lighter, longer and wider. Along with the new look comes full LED Adaptive Front lighting (AFS) which includes twin bi-functional projector headlamps, fog lamps and tail lamps.
At their reveal, Mike Manley, head of Ram brand, spoke about capability and improvements, like the 225-pound weight savings, a frame that’s 98 percent high-strength steel, and increased payload, now 2,300 pounds with 12,750-pound trailer tow capability. Ram alone offers air suspension and this continues with a new generation of bags. Also, Ram has switched to Frequency Response Damping (FRD) shocks, something we will investigate further in the future.
Also new is the etorque mild hybrid systems fitted to Gen2 3.6-liter Pentastar V6s and the 5.7-liter HEMI. etorque uses a 48-volt battery pack and belt-drive motor-generator to enable stop/start and offer torque assist of up to 90 lb-ft. The motor-generator also enables regeneration of brake energy, as do all other hybrids.
This should reduce brake wear. Hopefully, we’ll get to see the mild hybrid application with the diesel engine as well in the not-too-distant future.
There’s also some fun to be had, like a 900-Watt Harmon Kardon 19-speaker, 10” subwoofer, and active noise cancellation audio system said to be the most powerful in any production pickup. It features a 12inch configurable touchscreen with Ram-specific graphics and split-screen capability, with a full 360-degree birdseye view mode and new Sirius XM 360L personalized listening.
Mazda offered nothing about its exciting SKYACTIV-X gasoline-diesel, nor its SKYACTIV-D diesel. They weren’t there. Later, talking to our Mazda contacts, we learned a bit about the motor. It will displace 2.2 liters and offer “torque equal to our SKYACTIV gas engines.” That puts output around 310 lb-ft, a respectable number for hauling the kind of cargo Mazdas do, people and their stuff. Mazda promises that we’ll know more as soon as SKYACTIV-D receives CARB certification. And it will be available in model year 2019. We expect more news and details well before then.
Hyundai is also playing it close and quiet on their recently announced diesel engine; at the earliest, nothing about the motor will be made available until the New York Auto Show in April. However, we think it likely their engine will be based on one of the diesels currently offered in Europe—why reinvent the wheel after all?
In Europe, Hyundai offers diesels ranging from a 1.2L inline 3-cylinder to an 18-liter V8. We find the most likely candidates to be their 3.0-liter V6—everybody else (Ford, GM, Ram) has a 3.0-liter fitted into their Santa Fe or Tucson crossovers. But they could surprise us with a fuel sipper, like their turbocharged inline 4-cylinder diesels: a 182-hp/295 lb-ft 2.0L and a 197-hp/325 lb-ft 2.2L. Either could be a better, lighter, more fuel-efficient fit for Tucson or Santa Fe as 295-325 torques is pretty darn good for getting off the line, passing, or pulling a light trailer. Both of those engines are modern, with balancer shaft, ladder frame, lightweight uppers, and piezo-electric 1,800-bar common-rail injection. They do not, as used in Europe, currently have SCR, which will be absolutely necessary for North American certification.
Chevrolet delivered its latest Silverado lineup during a pre-show event held at Detroit’s Eastern Market. Against a backdrop of older Chevrolet light-duty trucks, Chevy brought out its newest—and completely redesigned—trucks while stressing Chevrolet’s 100-year history and the durability and dependability of Chevy trucks.
After the new LT Trailboss was driven onto the stage (it’s a 2-inch factory lift based off Z71, with locking rear diff, skid plates, Rancho shocks, 18” wheels with Goodyear Duratrac tires, and all of it fully warranted), Chevrolet’s global brand chief Alan Batey stressed three key points for truck buyers. One, they depend on trucks for more than transport; two, they want and demand comfort; and three, they want the perfect truck for themselves. Hence a lineup of eight distinct trim levels.
There are important differences in the 2019 Silverado that include mixed materials, which Mark Reuss, Executive VP of General Motors, says “is better than relying on aluminum.” For instance, there’s boxed steel and high-strength steels for lightness and weight saving. Seven different grades of steel are integrated In the safety cage alone. “Swing” panels, like the hood and doors, are now aluminum, as is the forged upper SLA control arm. Chevrolet re-engineered the bed, using stronger steel, and increased width above the wheel wells to create an additional 63 cubic feet of cargo volume. The new truck is a bit longer overall, by 41mm or 1.6 inches. More important is the 100mm (3.9”) longer wheelbase that delivers more interior volume, particularly for the rear seat passengers.
But you wanted to know about engines, right? There are now six engine/transmission combinations, starting with the 6.2-liter V8 and 5.3-liter V8 gas engines that now have cylinder deactivation for 1-7 cylinders under all load conditions. That’s new and significant. Nothing was said about the current 4.3L V6.
Now for the new diesel—we again spoke to Mike Siegrest, our source for GM diesel details. Here is everything known to anyone outside GM: “It’s a diesel. It’s a 3.0-liter turbo-diesel engine. It’s all-new. It’s an inline 6-cylinder engine. It will be manufactured at Flint (Michigan) Engine Operations. It will be a Duramax.” Wow, we were speechless. But that is all anyone at General Motors will, or can, say for now. However, there are a few more details we can reveal.
General Motors has brought its software development in-house, so, as with the 1.6-liter we recently covered, we expect the experience from Turin, Italy, GM’S center of excellence in diesel engines was called upon during design and engineering. We’re also sure that the calibration was done in North America, as it was with the 6.6L, 2.8L, and 1.6L engines before it.
We were able to talk in vague generalities about the engine. It was designed as an inline engine since the even distribution of crankshaft forces makes it inherently smoother than a V6 or V8, which is an advantage. Think less rotational mass at the crankshaft and no requirement for a balance shaft, among other benefits. We did learn that GM expects the new motor will have the best performance in the half-ton pickup segment and be highly fuel efficient. Note that the
new engine gives GM across-the-board diesels: Cruze, Colorado, Equinox, Express van and Silverado (for now only the 6.6L), with medium-duty trucks to be shown a few weeks after the NAIAS.
Ford, on the other hand, had far more details available on its 3.0-liter diesel, slated now for F-150. ( And certainly adaptable to other vehicles!—ed.) We spoke first to Brian Bell, F-150 marketing manager. “We've looked at the diesel business case several times since lightweighting F-150 in 2015, and the time was right,” he told UDBG. “A 3.0-liter diesel would be great for customers. It would give them power, economy, capability; we began the engine program shortly after the new F-150 launched.”
Factored into the equation were fuel prices. “It all started with the customer business case. Who are they, what are they going to use the truck for, does it make sense for them? Ecoboost is a fantastic powertrain for our customers. It has tremendous towing capability, lots of lowend torque. But, when we could put the smaller displacement diesel engine in, it made sense for our customers who tow or haul frequently. That’s who we see as our customers.”
Likely you already know the specifics about power from the British-built motor, announced as 250 horsepower and 440 lb-ft of torque at 1700 rpm. Towing capacity is 11,400 pounds and payload capacity is 2,020 pounds for twowheel-drive single-cab models. “We're expecting fuel economy numbers of 30 mpg highway once EPA has completed testing. The team feels very confident,” Bell told us.
What you may not know is that like the 6.7 Power Stroke this is a Ford engineered, de- signed, and produced powertrain. It’s an engine whose architecture has been well proven and built at Ford’s Dagenham facility in the UK. However, there’s been a lot of updates and engineering changes for the North American customer. “We want the low-end torque,” Bell continued. “We want truck’s capabilities built-in.”
The new mill is bolted to Ford’s 10-speed transmission, which launched in 2017. That transmission features non-sequential shifting, so it’s smart enough to go to whatever gear is needed. It has three overdrive gears and a relatively low first gear for good launch, even when towing. It features direct-acting hydraulic shift control, with six forward underdrive gears, one direct-drive gear, as well as those overdrive gears.
Ford predicts a take rate of about 5 percent for the diesel option, as the powertrain is for a very specific customer who will tow frequently, haul frequently, and is looking for diesel’s low- end torque and fuel economy while working. “That's their real benefit. In fact, over 75% of F-150 customers tow,” Bell said.
We have yet to dive as deeply into the new motor as we will, but Terry Farrell and Jim Mocio, chief program engineer and vehicle engineering manager, helped us with the broad strokes. The block is Compacted Graphite Iron (CGI), and oil capacity with filter is 6.5 quarts (6.15 liters). The overhead cams are belt-driven, a single VGT turbo is used, and injection pressures, delivered through piezo-electric injectors, are familiar at 29,000 psi. For the SCR system, it is expected the DEF system will require a refill every 7-8,000 miles and capacity is 22.5 quarts. Farrell noted that there is a gauge in one screen of the electronic driver information cluster to predict use.
For more in-depth information on all of these new products from Chevrolet, Ford, and Ram, as well as Hyundai and Mazda, we’ll just have to wait. UDBG
Ram came to Detroit with all-new trucks. Their more sophisticated appearance is a step away from the boldness of the original and more in line with modern 1500 buyers. We know nothing about their new diesel other than we’ll see it in model year 2019.
Alan Batey, global chief of Chevrolet, touted the wide variety of new Silverados available to suit every taste, from the Work Truck to the new RST street-performance look.
Ford’s 3.0-liter uses a ribbed timing belt to drive and sync a pair of overhead cams. Like other engines in the class of modern diesels, Ford’s injectors function at 29,000 psi, and the block is CGI or compacted graphite iron. CGI lowers weight while increasing strength.
Ford’s injection system, vendor yet unknown, supplies multiple injections. How many? We assume around seven mechanical injectors and await confirmation. Details are few, but thanks to embedded signposts, we know the pistons are aluminum alloy. Cooled EGR is also used, but at what rate we’re still exploring.
Terry Farrell (left) and Jim Mocio, chief program engineer and vehicle engineering manager, helped us understand the broad strokes of Ford’s new diesel.