Chrysler CEO: Light-duty diesel Ram pickup feasible, but is there demand?

January 2011 News

At a roundtable discussion this morning at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, CEO Sergio Marchionne said Chrysler is capable of producing a diesel light-duty pickup truck, but that there's no demand for it in the U.S. market.

"Do we have the technology to get it done? Absolutely yes. Do we have the engines to get it done? Absolutely yes," he said. "Is there a market for this? I don't know.

"We can do it all," Marchionne 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 noted that several Chrysler vehicles, including the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Jeep Wrangler, are both available with 3.0-liter diesel engines in Europe, but they are not available in the U.S. currently and would have to be adapted to meet strict and costly emission standards.

Cummins has also developed a light-duty diesel V-8 for North American light-truck manufacturers that's rumored to be a 5.0-liter oil burner that could be used in the Ram 1500.

When a journalist suggested Wrangler fans would jump at a chance to buy a diesel version, Marchionne said, "That's something we need to take a hard look at. Simply because, certainly the torque performance of that machine would be. ... There are great attributes out of having diesels in a car. That's why they're so popular in the heavy-duty side of trucks."

Perhaps Jeep could fit a diesel engine into the "multipurpose" vehicle that Marchionne also discussed this morning?

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