Diesel-powered Ram 1500 to arrive this year
DETROIT -- Ram will offer diesel-powered half-ton pickups this year, Chrysler Group's first such trucks since 1978.
A 3.0-liter, V-6 turbodiesel from Italian engine maker VM Motori will be combined with Chrysler Group's eight-speed transmission for the 2014 model year, Chrysler said last week. The combination, which will go on sale in the third quarter, will be identical to one offered in the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee that is expected to achieve highway fuel economy of more than 30 mpg.
Ram brand chief Fred Diaz said truck owners have asked for a diesel-powered light-duty pickup since the brand was created in 2009.
"We knew from all the research we were doing that the first to the marketplace with a modern diesel would have a huge leg up on the competition," Diaz said. "So far from what I'm seeing, it's indicated that we've made a very, very good decision."
He said top selling points of the truck will be increased torque and the extended range that comes with the engine's improved highway fuel economy. "That's a big deal when you're out in west Texas or Oklahoma and there's nothing around for miles and miles," Diaz said.
The new truck will be Chrysler's first light-duty pickup with a diesel-engine variant since the start of the Lee Iacocca era. General Motors phased out a 6.5-liter turbodiesel V-8 half-ton pickup in 1999.
Ram has been spotted testing diesel-powered Ram 1500s on Michigan roadways for six months. Diesel engines regularly achieve higher fuel economy with better torque than gasoline-powered engines. Ram boasts that the gasoline-powered 2013 Ram 1500 has best-in-class fuel economy of 25 mpg highway.
In the Grand Cherokee, the 3.0-liter V-6 turbodiesel engine from VM Motori produces 240 hp and 420 pounds-feet of torque. But the diesel engine could be tuned differently to handle the heavier Ram 1500. For 2013, the Ram 1500 is available with 3.6-liter V-6, 4.7-liter V-8 or a 5.7-liter V-8 gasoline engines. Diesel engines are available only in heavy-duty pickup variants.
The 2014 Ram 1500 is scheduled to enter production in July. Pricing hasn't been announced.
Chrysler wants to sustain a U.S. sales streak that has reached 34 consecutive months of year-over-year gains. Chrysler's pickup and commercial brand re-engineered its pickup lineup for the 2013 model year, adding fuel efficient eight-speed transmissions and making other improvements.
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