This is the last call for the diesel engine in light-duty vehicles.
Ford dealers were notified that last Friday was the final day to order an F-150 with the optional 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 diesel engine. That will leave just four diesel engines available in pickups and SUVs with a gross vehicle weight of 8,500 pounds or less.
Above that weight are heavy-duty versions of pickups, such as the Ford F-250, Ram 2500 and Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 2500s and up. And these vehicles will likely be the final stand for diesel engines in North America.
We've said last rites for the diesel before, only for it to stage a comeback thanks to some whiz-bang new technology, such as the turbocharger combined with high-pressure fuel injection or, more recently, selective catalytic reduction. But that's not going to happen again.
The reason: The cost of electrification is coming down, while the price of keeping diesel engines compliant with emissions rules is rising as clean air standards tighten. And with diesel engines dying in record numbers in Europe — home of the diesel since the 1980s — there will be far fewer investments in new technologies that could make the oil-burning engine run cleaner.
Ford's light-duty diesel never stood much of a chance against, frankly, better engines from General Motors and Stellantis.
Ford's V-6 dates back almost 20 years to a joint venture with Peugeot that produced the Lion V-6, a motor that was used in Jaguars and Land Rovers. Ford heavily revamped the Lion V-6 for the F-150, but it never ran as smoothly or quietly as GM's 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder that's available in Chevrolet and GMC light-duty pickups and SUVs. It also wasn't as fuel-efficient. The 2021 F-150 diesel carried an EPA rating of 20 mpg city, 27 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined, whereas the most fuel-efficient Chevrolet Silverado diesel has a 23 city, 33 highway and 27 combined rating. The most fuel-efficient Ram 1500 diesel also best the F-150, at 23 city, 33 highway and 26 combined.
But Ford's not quitting the pickup fuel economy race. The F-150 PowerBoost hybrid is EPA-rated 25 city, 26 highway and 25 combined, and it costs a few hundred less than the diesel on most trims. Still, diesel pickups have legions of fans, and some will miss the engine.
As the 2021 model year comes to a close, these are the light-duty diesel engines left on the market in North America:
- 2.8-liter four-cylinder in the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon
- 3.0-liter straight-six in Chevrolet and GMC full-size pickups and SUVs
- 3.0-liter V-6 in the Land Rover Range Rover and Range Rover Sport
- 3.0-liter V-6 in the Ram 1500, Jeep Wrangler and Gladiator
There are no longer diesel engines available in cars sold here. And we'll know soon whether the 2021 model year will spell the end for any of the four remaining light-duty diesel engines.