CHELSEA, Mich. -- Fiat Group executives are looking at ways to produce more light-duty diesel engines for Chrysler Group vehicles.
So far, Chrysler's diesel experiment, which it launched last year, is working. Brand executives said demand is brisk for diesel-powered versions of the Ram 1500 pickup and Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV, the two vehicles that offer the 3.0-liter V-6 EcoDiesel.
EcoDiesel engine maker VM Motori, a wholly owned subsidiary of Fiat Group, has capacity to build about 100,000 of the diesels per year, a source in Italy said.
About half of those engines are destined for use in North America, with the rest used in other vehicles elsewhere across the globe, where diesel acceptance is stronger. The source said it could take less than 18 months to significantly expand EcoDiesel production.
Chrysler Group dealers in the United States began selling Jeep Grand Cherokees with the diesel last year and began offering the engine in the Ram 1500 half-ton pickup in March.
Both engines cost consumers more than the V-6 and V-8 gasoline engines available in the vehicles. For example, in the Ram 1500, the EcoDiesel stickers at $2,850 more than a similarly equipped pickup with the 5.7-liter V-8 Hemi gasoline engine.