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At the recent North American International Auto Show, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, during a round table discussion, said that the tools to bring a light duty Ram diesel pickup to market are there, it’s just a question if there’s enough demand for it.
“We can do it all,” he said. “We have the engines, the know-how, because as you well know, Fiat is the repository of a huge amount of diesel know-how because of our industrial applications and even on the passenger car side. We’d love to do it, but the question is, will it sell?”
Marchionne also referred to the fact that several Chrysler vehicles, including the Jeep Wrangler and Grand Cherokee have long been offered with diesel engines in Europe, but in North America, the reception at best has been lukewarm, previous attempts to offer diesels in Jeep SUVs proving shortlived.
We’ve reported before that Cummins, which builds the straight-six turbo diesel available in the Ram Heavy Duty has developed a V8 diesel for use in 1/2 ton trucks and a version of this could be adapted for the Ram 1500, no doubt enhancing the truck’s towing and payload capability, but again, it all hinges on demand.
Given that light trucks now come under the same CAFE umbrella as passenger cars, it will probably be legislation that eventually drives demand for light duty diesel pickups. In Europe, largely due to taxation reasons, diesels are now the norm in passenger cars, their combination of torque output and fuel efficiency hard to beat. This contrasts with a generation ago, when they still represented less than half the market.
It’ll also be interesting to see if Ford and GM further pursue diesels for their light-duty pickups, previous plans have so far been put on hold.
[Source: Pickup trucks.com]
According to a well-known Mopar source, entries in Chrysler’s new car dealer ‘Star’ network show codes for impending diesel engine and hybrid-electric transmission options in Ram 1/2 ton pickups.
The diesel is rumored to be a Cummins 5.0-liter V8 turbocharged engine, which despite having two more cylinders than the straight-six (shown) which powers Ram Heavy-Duty models, is designed for less extreme applications, making it an ideal fit for the 1/2 ton Ram.
Meanwhile the ‘hybrid’ refers to the AHS-T gearbox that was found in the Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango Hybrids, which is listed, along with three other transmission options – a six-speed Getrag manual, plus the 42RE and 545RFE four and five-speed automatics.
However, there’s been no announcements of an impending diesel Ram and based on the fact that both Ford and GM have postponed their light-duty diesel trucks, the new rig may not actually materialize at all. Even if it does, it might take some time, along with steadily increasing fuel prices before Chrysler considers the diesel Ram and hybrid transmission a seriously feasible option (mid 2011 or early 2012 likely being the earliest date).
Chrysler is moving ahead with plans to deliver its light-duty Ram pickups with a diesel option, sourced from none-other than the automaker’s long-time heady duty diesel partner, Cummins.
Joe Veltri, VP of product planning at Chrysler told PickupTrucks.com that they are currently in discussions with Cummins, commenting that, “There’s no contract [with Cummins], but [a light-duty diesel] is in our plan.”
Chrysler had planed to introduce a diesel for the Ram 1500 already, but any existing contracts were voided when Chrysler filed for bankruptcy over the summer. The rumored new engine is said to be a 5.0-liter V8 that Veltri says could also be used in the heavy duty pickups as well, something that would certainly give Dodge (or the new Ram brand we should say) a unique offering in the light-duty truck segment.
With talks ongoing, there’s still no word on when a light-duty diesel Ram could make it to market.