It’s Friday once again, which means it’s time for another round of my Five For Friday: Five Thoughts about the Auto Industry for September 20, 2013. GM flirts with its diesel truck destiny, Mercedes-Benz and Infiniti ponder pickups of their own, Juan Pablo Montoya ends his NASCAR run, Volkswagen embraces a turbocharged future, and AMG recognizes its technological limitations - let’s look at my take on the most noteworthy and interesting automotive stories from the past week.
01. GM May Jump On Diesel Pickup Bandwagon
Continuing my recent theme of 'all diesel, all the time,' comes word that General Motors is considering expanding the availability of its turbodiesel truck engines. Currently restricted to HD three-quarter and full-ton trucks aimed at commercial buyers, a report from AutoGuide explains that the current-generation Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra are capable of accepting a small diesel V-6 without significant modification. The engine in question would be the same as that which currently featured in the RAM 1500 - a 3.0-liter V-6 - due to the fact that General Motors is a part-owner of the European firm that manufactures it.
What's holding Chevrolet and GMC back from going full-diesel, right now? Apparently the General isn't convinced that there's an actual business case for light-duty diesel trucks, and the company prefers to sit on the sidelines and let Ram, Nissan, and Toyota slug it out for the attentions of early adopters.
02. A Mercedes-Benz Pickup Truck Almost Happened
Speaking of pickups, how about one with a Silver Star on the hood? And what if I told you it wasn’t an in-house Mercedes-Benz effort but rather one based on the never-been-updated Nissan Titan? Apparently, Mercedes-Benz and Nissan had partnered up with the idea of marketing a version of the Titan as a luxury model, but the deal fell through after Nissan couldn't guarantee that an expanded range of engine options - including diesel and hybrid drivetrains - would actually be able to mix with the platform.
Road & Track claims that while the Nissan deal might be dead, Mercedes-Benz is still pursuing the idea of entering the full-size segment. So is Infiniti, which may take up the reigns of the abandoned previous project and create a premium edition of the next-generation Titan due in a few years time. Shades of the Lincoln Mark LT? Let's hope both luxury brands find a more effective way to market their plush trucks than Dearborn did.
03. Juan Pablo Montoya Gives Up On NASCAR
After years spent struggling with consistency, and with only two top 10 points finishes in eight seasons of competition, Juan Pablo Montoya has decided to return to open wheel racing. 2014 will see the end of Montoya's stint in NASCAR and a resumption of his IndyCar career, this time driving for Roger Penske. The move comes one month after Montoya's NASCAR team, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, announced that they would not be renewing the Colombian driver's contract. Montoya won two races in 244 NASCAR starts, but has a history of being much more dominant in other forms of racing - including Cart/Indy, Formula 1, and sports cars. Juan Pablo was also notable for being one of the first non-American drivers to compete regularly and with a high profile in the NASCAR series.
04. VW To Exclusively Offer Turbocharged Engines
Volkswagen has long mixed turbocharged motors in with naturally-aspirated mills, particularly in its larger cars which have enjoyed a number of powerful six-cylinder options over the years. In the pursuit of power in the face of restrictive fuel mileage and emissions regulations, however, The Detroit News is reporting that Volkswagen will be going turbo-only by the year 2017. The brand's 2.5-liter, five-cylinder engine is already on the way out of both the Volkswagen Jetta and the Volkswagen Golf, which means that the next to go will be its 3.6-liter V-6. Word on replacement for the larger unit has yet to be released, although it seems likely that it will also make use of six-cylinders in order to motivate heavier vehicles like the Volkswagen Passat and the Volkswagen Touareg.
05. AMG At The Limit Of Current Twin-Turbo V-8
Not all turbocharged stories have a happy ending. In-house Mercedes-Benz tuners AMG may have reached the end of the line when it comes to squeezing more performance out of the brand's current 5.5-liter V-8. In an interview with CarSales.com.au, AMG's man-in-charge said that there's no way for the motor to surpass the 600 horsepower barrier. The twin-turbo eight-cylinder engine is available in the Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG, the E63 AMG, and the CLS63 AMG, but future range-toppers will instead benefit from the installation of a 4.0-liter turbocharged V-8 that will expand both power availability and reduce weight.