General Motors will unveil the new Chevrolet Cruze Diesel Model at the Chicago Auto Show on Thursday.
In a bid to enter the highly competitive and profitable U.S. and Canadian diesel markets, the new model will be one of 13 new or updated cars that Chevy will release in 2013.
The company first announced its plans for the Lordstown-built diesel Cruze a little more than a year ago, said Glenn Johnson, president of the United Auto Workers Local 1112.
“Quite honestly, anytime you have this type of investment, tooling or dollars, these things mean job security for our members,” Johnson said. “As we know, it’s a huge economic engine for our Valley.”
In August, GM announced that it would invest $200 million to retool the Lordstown plant for the assembly of its next generation Cruze. The move shored up job security for the plant’s 4,500 workers and another 500 at the company’s Parma plant where it invested an additional $20 million.
The next generation Cruze is expected to keep the plant operating until at least 2020 and the current Cruze model is expected to be in production through 2014.
Johnson said those retooling efforts had nothing to do with the forthcoming diesel model, expected to hit the market later this year. Johnson said that he was aware that GM is still in a testing phase with the diesel Cruze and did not have details on a production time line.
GM will provide more specifics Thursday.
If anything, though, the new model could prove lucrative for the company. Clean diesel automobile sales in the U.S. increased by 25.6 percent in 2012, according to sales information compiled by HybridCars.com and Baum and Associates.
A separate study done in June by Pike Research predicts than nearly 80 million clean diesel vehicles will be sold worldwide from 2012 to 2018.
There are currently 14 clean-diesel autos and SUVs available in the U.S. and the number increases to 31 when light-duty trucks and vans are included.
When GM rolls out its diesel model, it will be the only such domestic model available in the U.S., expected to compete with European models, where the market for diesel is stronger.