During a visit to Automotive News last week, Joe Eberhardt, JLR's North American CEO, acknowledged that marketing a diesel-powered vehicle these days is tough.
"Right now, with all the negativity around diesel, if we pushed it really hard, I am not sure it would convert someone who has a negative connotation of diesel just by saying, 'It's not as bad as you think,'" he said.
So far, Jaguar Land Rover's diesels have maintained a clean record in the U.S. and Europe.
Eberhardt said JLR's sales of diesel models in North America -- which started last year and are the first diesels for either brand -- have been growing and, most importantly, that the engine will remain in JLR's lineup.
"We are getting to the take rates that we were looking for, about 15 percent on SUVs and around 9 to 10 percent on the sedans. Customers who chose the diesel actually love them for all the benefits in terms of range, fuel economy and torque. So, we have no plans on abandoning diesels," Eberhardt said.
Before the diesel era for light-duty vehicles ends in the early 2020s, we'll likely see at least a few more nameplates get the fuel-saving engine. Ford has announced it is adding an optional six-cylinder diesel engine to the F-150. And it is also possible the upcoming Bronco SUV could get a diesel.
With automakers reluctant to promote diesels, the engine will likely remain a niche player that is sought out by fans of the technology.
"I think we will take the natural demand that comes through word-of-mouth," said Eberhardt. "That is still the most potent sales tool when someone has one and likes it and tells their friends."