DETROIT -- Chrysler LLC is delaying the introduction of its light-duty Cummins diesel engine in the Dodge Ram 1500 light-duty pickup until at least 2011, says Frank Klegon, the automakers executive vice president of product development.
Chrysler had planned to introduce the engine in 2010.
Klegon said Chrysler is rethinking its approach to diesel emissions treatment, given that tougher federal standards are approaching. Chrysler is re-evaluating its emissions control technology to meet 50-state pollution regulations in 2010. The regulations call for a 90 percent reduction in nitrogen oxide emissions from 2006 levels.
Chrysler must decide whether to use a catalytic converter that traps emissions or a urea selective catalytic reduction system, which requires owners to refill a urea tank.
The business case in the U.S. is not that strong for diesels right now because of high diesel prices at the pump and because of the high cost of the hardware required to treat emissions, Klegon said.
Customers who buy Dodge heavy-duty trucks pay a $6,000 or $7,000 premium for the added power and torque of diesels, he said.
Dodge will introduce a Two Mode hybrid version of the Ram 1500 in 2010, as planned, Klegon said.
Mike Levine, editor of the Web site pickuptrucks.com, said Chryslers decision to delay the launch was probably a good one.
What theyre doing is going to be disappointing to the most die-hard diesel loyalist, Levine said. But relative to the size of the market, its really the right decision to do in this environment out there. Truck buyers arent willing to pay the premium for the hardware that comes with tougher emissions standards.
Levine said Chrysler is the only company that meets requirements for 2010 diesel emissions with the 6.7-liter, six-cylinder engine in its heavy-duty trucks.
Levine said Chryslers decision is in line with the rest of the industry, adding: Toyota has shelved its diesel plans, and Ford has put their diesel plans on pause.