SAN FRANCISCO -- Jeep has no immediate plans to sell a diesel version of its redesigned 2011 Grand Cherokee in North America.
Jeep will begin exporting the diesel-powered Grand Cherokee to Europe early next year. But for North American consumers, it is "an open question because the business case has to make sense," Phil Jansen, the Grand Cherokee's chief engineer, said during a press event here.
At issue is how many U.S. buyers will accept the price for the engine and the system for the urea aftertreatment. The urea system is required to meet emissions standards in 50 states.
"It is expensive," Jansen said. He gave no estimate, but some urea-system diesels have a price premium of up to $4,000.
Jeep offered a 3.0-liter V-6 diesel engine produced by Mercedes-Benz as an option on the 2009 Grand Cherokee. The standard engine was a 3.7-liter V-6 gasoline. Jeep is not offering the diesel in the 2010 model. The export version of the 2011 Grand Cherokee will be available with a 3.0-liter diesel V-6 produced by VM Motori.
Jansen said U.S. diesel sales of the previous-generation Grand Cherokee peaked at around 8 percent. "Then diesel fuel prices went past gasoline. It kind of wiped it out," he said.
Depending on the model, the diesel option for the 2009 Grand Cherokee started at about $1,000 in the United States. It did not use urea.
Jansen said that if diesels account for 15 to 20 percent of luxury SUV sales, "then we will obviously consider it."
Peter Makrias, general manager of Advantage Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram in Des Plaines, Ill., is disappointed that Jeep won't offer a diesel. Said Makrias: "The diesel engine accounted for nearly 20 percent of Grand Cherokee sales."