Following the revelation that it used illegal "defeat device" software to cheat on emissions tests, Volkswagen has essentially walked away from the U.S. diesel market.
The company has indicated that it will not return to selling its TDI models here in large numbers anytime soon.
That means current Volkswagen diesel owners not put off by the carmaker's deception won't be able to buy a new VW TDI model when it comes time to replace their cars.
General Motors hopes to capitalize on this.
The Detroit carmaker will directly target Volkswagen owners with the next-generation Chevrolet Cruze diesel, according to industry trade journal Automotive News (subscription required).
Based on the second-generation Cruze that debuted as a 2016 model, the new Cruze diesel is expected to debut sometime during 2017.
2016 Chevrolet Cruze
Chevy offered a diesel-engine option in the previous-generation Cruze, but that model was never remotely a strong seller.
GM hopes it will do better with the new model by targeting Volkswagen TDI owners who remain loyal to diesel, but are faced with few choices after VW's retreat from the market.
Volkswagen originally intended to get its 2016 TDI models certified by the Environmental Protection Agency, but that proved unrealistic.
Last month, VW Group of America CEO Hinrich Woebcken said the company would not return to making diesels a core aspect of its identity, but might continue to sell them in the U.S. in smaller numbers.
Woebcken said that tightening emissions standards will only make it more difficult to sell new diesels in the U.S. in the coming years.
GM is more confident, though.
2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback
Dan Nicholson—the carmaker's vice president for global propulsion systems—told Automotive News that he views the U.S. as "one of the few diesel growth markets on the planet."
He cited strong sales of diesel versions of Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon mid-size pickup trucks as evidence of that.
Last November, GM received a letter from the EPA certifying that the diesel versions of its Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon mid-size pickup trucks fully complied with all emissions regulations when those vehicles went on sale.
Thanks to Volkswagen's withdrawal, the majority of diesel vehicles on sale in the U.S. are now trucks, SUVs, and luxury cars.
That leaves the Cruze Diesel as one of the only diesels with a price around $25,000, and almost none of the direct competition it would have had before the VW emission scandal broke last September.
Chevy will only benefit, however, if current Volkswagen TDI owners remain committed to diesel—and don't simply abandon the segment altogether.