General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Dodge are revamping their diesel pickups to meet the EPA regulations. All the trucks will have the new diesel particulate filters.
Putting the filter on the engines in today's diesel trucks would cause a drop in performance and economy. The particulate filter forces the engine to work harder to push the exhaust through to the tailpipes.
Ford plans to get around that by dropping its current 6.0-liter diesel and replacing it with a 6.4-liter V-8 that uses piezo electric fuel injectors to control emissions and to boost performance.
GM and Dodge could follow suit with bigger engines to offset the loss in performance.
GM plans to announce major changes to its heavy-duty diesel trucks on Aug. 24. It has said the 2007 models will get several big upgrades, including a new variable geometry turbocharger, new exhaust gas recirculation system and other enhancements.
Dodge plans to reveal its plans for the Ram diesel engine in September.
"The Ram requires an all-new emissions control system and significant changes to the engine," said Klegon. But the diesel Ram will not use DaimlerChrysler's Bluetec diesel emissions technology, since the engine will be designed and built by Cummins Inc.
Battle of the trucks
Dodge, GM and Ford officials would not talk about prices or power ratings for 2007 model trucks. But the three are in a battle for diesel truck bragging rights and have been trumping each other for the last five years with bigger and more powerful engines.
"Pricing is the lead responsibility of marketing," said Klegon. "It'll be a concern. When we get a little closer to market, probably around the end of the third quarter, we'll talk about pricing," he said at the recent 2007 product preview here.
Chrysler sells about 160,000 heavy-duty Ram trucks each year, and 80 percent are equipped with diesel engines, said Chrysler spokesman Colin McBean.
Ford plans a short year for the 2007 Super Duty trucks. A revamped model coming early in 2007 will be sold as a 2008 model. Ford will build the 2007 trucks with carryover 2006 6.0-liter diesels before switching to the new 6.4-liter engine with piezo injectors for the 2008 model. GM likely will follow a similar plan.
The reason is diesel fuel.
Shipments of low-sulfur diesel fuel started flowing through the nation's pipelines June 1. The new fuel, which has about 15 parts per million of sulfur, replaces today's fuel, which carries 500 parts per million of sulfur. By January, all the old high-sulfur fuel should be out of the distribution system.
Trucks with diesel particulate filters can't tolerate diesel fuel with high sulfur content.
You may e-mail Richard Truett at [email protected]