Ram will be first to market a diesel option in the light-duty segment
- 02/20/2013 |
- by Matt Landish |
- Total Car News / Manufacturer
Chrysler Group, LLC intends to be the first modern automaker in the US to offer a diesel engine option in the standard-duty pickup truck segment. Due to be released in the third quarter of this year, it could be the type of announcement that brings a flood of new sales to the brand.
Almost exclusively reserved for much more expensive heavy-duty trucks, a Ram 1500 diesel offering could be exactly what Chrysler needs to attract new buyers by offering a powertrain combination not available in the market today. “I think you’ll end up seeing Ram trucks selling to customers that may not have otherwise gone to a Ram,” said Karl Brauer, Editor in Chief and CEO of Total Car Score. “The loyalty is so strong in the truck market, and now they’re going to have a niche.”
Though diesels are usually more expensive than their gasoline counterparts, they get better fuel economy, can pull heavier loads and usually last longer, which resonates with customers. Ram CEO Fred Diaz indicated customers have been looking for a diesel option in standard duty trucks for a long time, saying that "Truck owners have been emphatically asking for it, and Ram will be the only manufacturer to offer a diesel powertrain in the half-ton segment with the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel.”
The EcoDiesel engine, a 3-liter turbo diesel, will generate 240-horsepower and 420 ft-lb of torque. Italian diesel engine maker VM Motori is the engine supplier and has provided Chrysler with diesel powerplants since the early 1990s.
Though fuel economy numbers have not yet been released, the new engine will be mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission, which has successfully boosted fuel economy in other products where it is used. If priced appropriately – meaning as close to the gasoline counterpart as possible – the EcoDiesel could reap the same benefits Ford is enjoying with its 3.5L EcoBoost V6, which was initially criticized at launch for not being a V8, but now represents more than 40% of F-150 sales. While still gasoline-powered, the EcoBoost engine showed buyers that, through the use of turbocharging and direct-injection, V8 performance could be achieved with only six cylinders.
Whether or not other automakers will follow suit and offer a diesel option in their light duty pickups remains to be seen, but Brauer added, “If Ram comes out with diesel and all of a sudden its among their strongest, or even strongest selling version of the truck, there’s no question the domestics and even the import truck makers will be all over it.”