The Chevrolet Cruze.

The Chevrolet Cruze.

DETROIT – GM sees a bright future for diesel-fueled vehicles in the U.S., and said it’s poised to capitalize on rising diesel sales with the introduction of a 2.0L clean turbo diesel engine option on its Chevrolet Cruze next year. The automaker said it expects the diesel variant of the Cruze to get better than 40 mpg. The engine is a common-rail direct-injection fuel system, according to GM.

GM said diesel car now make up 3 percent of U.S. sales and are up 35% in the first quarter of 2012 compared with the first quarter in 2011. A company called Baum and Associates predicts diesel will account for 6% of U.S. car sales by 2015.

In addition, GM cited a stat from the Diesel Technology Forum, which said half of U.S. service stations now offer diesel fuel, which is up from a third a few years ago. Worldwide, GM said it sold more than half a million diesel-powered cars across Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America in 2011, 33,000 of which were Chevrolet Cruze models.

“Small displacement diesel engines could fill an important niche in Chevrolet’s diverse four-cylinder lineup,” said Mike Weidman, Cruze marketing manager.