Gm Targets Medium-duty Market for Gasoline Engines

by : Glady Reign



General Motors Corp. earlier announced its intention to lure the medium duty market to go for gasoline engines instead of diesel units. In this regard, the automaker will be renaming a company website that touts medium-duty gasoline engines as an excellent alternative to diesel engines. However, critics in the industry are saying that the strategy seems so strange.

GM introduced whygasengines.com, which was registered on November 20. Its goal is to persuade visitors to use gasoline engines than diesel counterparts. Whygas.com is the original domain name of the website but it was replaced with whygasengines.com to better "match the site's purpose," said Greg Martin, GM's Washington-based spokesman upon acknowledging "the irony of the name."

The change of domain name occurred when GM was battling the notion that it is behind the Toyota Motor Corp. and other auto giants with regards to production of eco vehicles. GM launched the website to pump up sales of its medium-duty gasoline engines, which cost anywhere from $6,000 to $15,000 less than its diesel counterparts.

The website gives reasons why people should shift to gasoline engines. For one, gasoline engines cost less than diesel engines. They are also more universally available, easy to service, have fast cab heater warm-up and a good solution for lower-mileage applications. Gasoline engines are also quiet in operation. The site also provides a calculator that suggests how much a customer could save in purchasing a gas engine over a diesel.

GM is capitalizing on the difference to sell more gasoline engines over diesel for commercial trucks. The website touts gasoline engines used in dump trucks, ambulances, some large trucks, and U-Haul moving vans. It also offers potential customers a coffee mug worth $10 if they ask information about gas engines.

"Our Gas Engine. Powerfully cost-effective," the Web site says, promoting "the advantages of gas Why gas? Learn more." The automaker has reported that of 60,000 medium-duty engines sold in 2006, 9,000 were gasoline-powered Vortec 8.1-liter V-8s. Among other diesel engines, GM sells the Duramax 6.6-liter V-8 diesel engine.

It can be recalled that the new regulations aimed at producing new clean diesel made such products costly. However, it is treated as a plus factor in promoting cleaner air because it reduces particulate emissions while producing as much as 25 per cent better gas mileage than gas engines.

Rick Wagoner, GM CEO and Chairman, said the company will "dramatically intensify our efforts to displace petroleum-based fuels by building a lot more vehicles that run on alternatives, such as E85 ethanol."

On the other side of it, critics in the industry find the move strange for the automaker to do. "It seems strange that they are pushing gasoline as more available when on the other hand they are touting the advantages of E85 for light duty vehicles, which is significantly less available than diesel," said David Friedman, research director of the clean vehicle program for the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Rob Minton, GM spokesman, defended the site by saying, "To suggest that there is any message beyond the site's intent as a marketing tool for a very, very specific segment of the market is ridiculous and silly." GM will be promoting the website through print ads, online banner ads, a CD-ROM and search engine marketing.

GM is currently working in a partnership with other companies like QUANTUM Technologies, Inc. and General Hydrogen to further its engines, strut mount and other auto parts. Automakers are continuously upgrading their auto parts and accessories. Toyota, the world leader in hybrid manufacture is entertaining more innovations. Auto parts like and Ford engines are also showing different levels of sophistication. Hence, GM, as the leader in the field must be cautious about the mounting competition.