Dealers bullish on diesel Ram 1500 pickup

The diesel engine in the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel is made in Italy by Fiat subsidiary VM Motori.

DETROIT -- Almost half of the initial dealer orders for the 2014 Ram 1500 pickup are for the diesel-powered version.

Over the Feb. 7-10 weekend, when dealers could first place orders for the 3.0-liter diesel engine, they ordered more than 8,000 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesels, almost half of anticipated March production of the full-sized pickup, said Bob Hegbloom, Ram brand director. About 400 of those have already been sold to customers, he said.

The percentage of initial diesel orders by dealers is about double or triple what brand executives had anticipated, Hegbloom said. He said that in coming months, presold orders will be given production priority to keep customer wait times down.

The diesel engine is made by Fiat subsidiary VM Motori S.p.A. in Italy. It produces 240 hp and 420 pounds-feet of torque and is mated in the Ram 1500 to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The diesel engine's exhaust is treated with urea to reduce emissions of oxides of nitrogen, which cause smog. The onboard urea tank must be refilled every 10,000 miles.

The Ram 1500 EcoDiesel is the first light-duty, diesel-powered full-sized pickup to be offered in the United States since General Motors sold them in the mid-1990s.

In June, Ram brand head Reid Bigland had estimated that diesel versions would account for up to 30 percent of Ram 1500 sales.

The Ram 1500 EcoDiesel starts at $30,465, including shipping. The price is $2,850 higher than a similarly equipped Ram 1500 with a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 engine.

You can reach Larry P. Vellequette at -- Follow Larry P. on Twitter: @LarryVellequett

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