The ongoing Volkswagen emissions scandal has many analysts, pundits, and automotive executives pondering the future of diesel in the U.S.

So far, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) CEO Sergio Marchionne has been on the more optimistic side.

He believes the Volkswagen scandal is merely a matter of corporate indiscretion, and that the public won't project VW's wrongdoing onto other carmakers selling diesel vehicles.

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Nonetheless, he has now revealed that he does think diesel has an endpoint.

"Sometime in the next five years diesel will become offensive to the fleet," Marchionne said in a recent interview with WardsAuto focusing primarily on FCA's Jeep and Ram truck divisions.

For the moment, though, Marchionne believes diesel does have a future in the U.S.--albeit a limited one.

2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel HFE

2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel HFE

At the recent Detroit Auto Show, he said FCA was "cautiously optimistic" about diesel's ability to weather the VW scandal.

He said the issue was purely a "reflection of poor governance of the process" within Volkswagen, and that the public wouldn't harbor the same negative feelings toward companies that had always complied with emission laws.

The Ram 1500 EcoDiesel model currently accounts for about 15 percent of Ram half-ton truck sales, and the same 3.0-liter V-6 is also offered in the Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV.

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The EcoDiesel may soon become even more crucial to the Ram lineup, as Ford is reportedly planning a diesel F-150 to compete with it.

Recently-announced revisions to FCA's five-year plan also show the company is preparing a diesel version of the next-generation Jeep Wrangler, set to debut sometime between 2018 and 2022.

In the same period, though, FCA will also start to focus on hybrids and plug-in hybrids.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

While he has publicly stated his lack of interest in pure electric cars, multiple times in many venues, Marchionne told Wards that tougher emissions standards will make electrification "inevitable."

At last month's Detroit Auto Show, FCA unveiled the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid plug-in hybrid minivan--its first mass-market plug-in vehicle.

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Until now, the only FCA product with a plug has been the Fiat 500e electric car, sold only in California and Oregon.

FCA is expected to follow the Pacifica with a range of (non-plug-in) 48-Volt mild hybrids, including hybrid versions of the Wrangler and Ram 1500.

Marchionne said he expects hybrids to ultimately comprise at least half of FCA's lineup.


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