Chrysler To Offer Diesel Engine Options, But Only In Trucks

2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee

2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee

If you’ve been waiting to buy a diesel-powered Jeep Grand Cherokee, you probably already know that one is on the way. Or if your tastes run to the Dodge brand instead of Jeep, it’s possible that the similarly-sized Dodge Durango sport utility may soon get a diesel option, too.

Do you need the capabilities of a compact to midsize pickup truck? There’s good news from Chrysler on that front as well: CEO Sergio Marchionne says we can expect the next generation of Ram Dakota pickup, built on a lighter-weight unibody platform, to include a diesel engine option.

If that’s the good news, here’s the bad: per Ward’s Auto, Marchionne sees no need for diesel-powered automobiles in North America.

History, according to Marchionne, shows sales demand for diesels in light trucks, but not in passenger cars.

“A diesel (Fiat) 500 would never sell,” the Chrysler CEO was quoted as saying. We probably wouldn’t argue that point, since the Fiat 500 is already rated at 30 mpg city and 38 mpg highway, but what about a diesel-powered Chrysler 300 or a Dodge Charger with a turbodiesel?

A diesel-powered full-size sedan would give Chrysler a unique product offering in the U.S. market, and it already has a suitable engine in the 3.0-liter, V-6 turbodiesel to be used in the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

If U.S. customers don’t buy diesel passenger vehicles, how do we explain Volkswagen’s success with its Golf and Jetta TDI models?

Until automakers stop citing beliefs that are 20 years out of date, don’t expect a dramatic change. We’re guessing that’s just fine with Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Volkswagen, who are happy to sell diesels to the buyers that Marchionne says don't exist.

And it's not just the Germans, either. The all-American Chevrolet will offer a 2013 Cruze with a diesel engine too.

Any bets on when we'll hear the sound of Chrysler quietly reconsidering?


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Comments (3)
  1. Why in the world would he say something like that? I was hoping the next generation Chrysler 200 would get a 4 cylinder turbo diesel. If GM and/or Ford decides to include a diesel in their mid sized sedans, I will consider one of those. I don't trust VW, my experience has not been good with that car company.

  2. @James, I'd expect to see more diesel options in the U.S. after 2014, when emission regulations between the U.S. and the E.U. Reach parity.

  3. If Chrysler made a compact pickup with a small 4-cylinder diesel engine, I would buy it. I would hope it at least has:
    - Rear-wheel drive for better hauling capability
    - An extended cab option
    - Can haul a 4x8 sheet in the rear bed
    - Around 40 mpg highway
    - An IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) top safety pick.

    I really question Chrysler's willingness to make safe pickups. For example, the 2012 Dodge Ram 1500 gets marginal ratings for side and rollover crash tests, worse than any every other truck manufacturer. The 2011 Dodge Dakota was rated even worse. If a new model is built, Chrysler please do it right. And, please improve the crash worthiness of the Dodge Ram 1500 - it really is a nice truck.

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