TURIN -- General Motors sees "attractive" growth opportunities for diesel-powered vehicles in the U.S. and China.
GM President Dan Ammann said sales of diesel cars will grow because diesels are an "intrinsically more efficient engine" than gasoline units.
"We see attractive growth opportunities (for diesels) in the U.S. and, over time, also in Asia and specifically in China,” Ammann told reporters here on Tuesday.
Ammann was speaking to reporters after GM said it will expand its GM Powertrain Europe global diesel development center in Turin, Italy, adding 60 jobs.
The center provides Opel/Vauxhall, Chevrolet and other GM brands with diesel technology. It grew out of GM’s failed partnership with Fiat in the early part of the last decade and now employs about 650 people in a collaboration with Turin’s Polytechnic university.
GM will add a new area to the center of about 2,500 square meters, dedicated to new labs and offices. Construction will start next year.
The center developed GM's new 2.8-liter diesel engine that will be offered on the GMC Canyon and Chevrolet Colorado pickup trucks starting in the second half. It also engineered Opel's downsized 1.6-liter CDTI diesel which GM says is the quietest diesel in its class.
Ammann said diesel engines will also continue to play an important role in Europe because of their higher efficiency.
Industry watchers predict that diesel sales in Europe will decline as tougher regulations push up development costs and cities such as Paris and London implement laws to restrict diesel cars amid rising fears about health risks linked to higher levels of nitrogen oxides. Diesels account for about half of all new-car sales in Europe.
The regulatory environment for diesels will get tougher in 2017 when the EU will require diesel vehicles sold in the region to undergo emissions tests on roads rather than in laboratories. European automakers have criticized the new testing regime.
Luca Ciferri contributed to this report