GM's 4.5-liter Duramax V8 diesel
GM may dust off its 4.5-liter V8 Duramax engine program

When General Motors was experiencing its worst financial crisis in ages, a number of programs were cancelled to save the company money. One of those projects was a successor to the Northstar family of DOHC V8 engines which are used in Cadillacs. Another engine program that was shelved was the 4.5-liter Duramax V8 diesel engine for light-duty pickup trucks.

However, with more stringent CAFE requirements looming, manufacturers are looking for ways to boost fuel efficiency at all costs. With cars, there are numerous options. Many auto manufacturers are turning to lower displacement turbocharged engines while others are looking at hybrid powertrains and fully electric vehicles.

GM tried a fuel economy booster for its full-size pickups and SUVs in the form of a gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain. However, that venture has turned out to be ill-suited for the company and sales have been lackluster.

That's where the 4.5-liter Duramax comes in reports According to GM full-size truck chief engineer Mark Cieslak, “The 4.5-liter V-8 is fully developed and ready. [If we decided to offer it] we could launch it in a heartbeat.”

The engine could be offered as an option for half-ton pickups and as a cheaper, more fuel efficient alternative to the larger 6.6-liter Duramax V8 engine currently available in the heavy-duty Silverados and Sierras. The current generation 2011 LMM 6.6-liter Duramax V8 is rated at 397 hp and 765 lb-ft of torque.

“[The 4.5-liter Duramax] could get a few miles per gallon more [than the 6.6 Duramax],” added Gary Arvan, Duramax chief engineer. “It’s a high-performance diesel with a high level of work capability and fuel economy.”

According to Arvan, the performance numbers for the 4.5-liter Duramax would be similar to those of a 2001-era Duramax engine. That original Duramax diesel generated 300 hp at 3100 rpm and 520 lb-ft of torque at 1800 rpm.

If GM were to pull the 4.5-liter Duramax off the shelf and put it into light-duty vehicles, they could kill two birds with one stone. On the one hand, GM would be boosting the fuel economy ratings for its truck fleet. Secondly, consumers who have been begging GM for a light-duty diesel would would now effectively be silenced with the new option.

While GM is considering a smaller diesel too boost fuel efficiency, Ford is taking a different route with its F-150. The company has announced that the 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost engine will be available in the light-duty truck for 2011.

“Then they pop up and say ‘Hello, surprise! Give us your money or we will shut you down!' Screw them. Seriously, screw them. You can quote me on that.” -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng referencing patent trolls

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