Chrysler Postpones Light-Duty Diesel Ram Pickup

Chrysler Postpones Light-Duty Diesel Ram Pickup

Chrysler says the planned introduction of a Cummins-built, light-duty diesel engine for the Dodge Ram 1500 has been delayed until 2011 or later.

"We've moved its introduction back; it was 2010," Frank Klegon, Chrysler’s executive vice president of product development, said at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Sunday. "It will be 2011 calendar year or later."

Cummins had previously announced that it planned to start manufacturing the new engine no later than the end of 2010 at its Columbus, Ind., engine plant.

Klegon cited the high cost of new hardware needed to meet diesel emissions regulations in all 50 states for 2010. Those regulations mandate lowering nitrogen oxide exhaust levels more than 90 percent from 2006 levels. NOx is a major air pollutant that contributes to smog, asthma, and respiratory and heart diseases. It's a byproduct of high combustion temperatures. The extra gear will add to the purchase price and could also cost diesel owners additional dollars in maintenance, depending on the NOx trap hardware used.

Pickup truck manufacturers have announced two methods to lower NOx by 2010. The first method depends upon a trap-type NOx catalyst that uses precious metals to create a chemical reaction that lowers NOx levels. It requires no maintenance. The second method is urea selective catalytic reduction. That process is more complex and requires periodic refilling of the urea tank. Urea is injected as a fine mist into the hot exhaust gases. The heat breaks the urea down into ammonia that, when combined with a special catalytic converter, breaks the NOx down into harmless nitrogen gas and water vapor.

Chrysler is the only company that already meets 2010 diesel emissions, in its 6.7-liter six-cylinder Dodge Ram heavy-duty pickups. Other manufacturers, like GM, have said they will use urea SCR for their 2010 light- and heavy-duty pickups.

Klegon said Chrysler and Cummins are trying the determine the best emissions approach to use.

"Emissions (regulations) keep getting tougher and the equipment keeps getting more expensive," Klegon said. "We were hoping to use our current system (NOx catalyst trap), but the extra cost is a reason to bring (urea) SCR forward in time."

Another Chrysler concern is the cost premium that diesel fuel carries over regular unleaded gasoline. Klegon said, however, that diesel fuel in the low-$2 range could negate that.


Is there a possibility that they might switch the truck's base engine from the current 3.7 V6 to the 4.0 from the Dodge Grand Caravan? Because my understanding is that that engine delivers better horsepower, better torque at about the same RPM and does it with better fuel economy.

Do you guys have any information on that sort of thing?

Cummins had previously announced that it planned to start manufacturing the new engine no later than the end of 2010 at its Columbus, Ohio, engine plant.

Columbus, IN

@ The Luigiian

Keep in mind the 4.0 in the Caravan is a transversely mounted front drive unit. Not sure how much would be needed to convert it. I honestly haven't heard any mention of a switch. Just my opinion.


Ah. Looks like I'll just have to keep on pining for Ecoboost F-150 and the Toyota A-BAT.

Thanks for reminding me of the transverse mounted thing.

The 4.0L engine is already available in the Nitro and the Liberty, not just the mini-vans. It can be mounted either way. Problem solved.

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