In a striking success for diesel power, one of every five Ram full-size pickup trucks rolling off Chrysler Group truck assembly lines in Warren, Michigan, and Saltillo, Mexico, will be powered by a diesel engine built by Fiat by the end of November.
Robert Hegbloom, the head of the Ram Brand, said the demand for 3.0-liter EcoDiesel version of the Ram 1500 pickup has been double what Chrysler expected. Fuel economy and the exclusivity of the EcoDiesel led to the decision to increase the diesel powertrain mix to 20%, he added.
“Innovation sometimes comes with risk, but being first to market with a diesel engine for the half-ton segment has shown to be a great decision for the Ram Brand,” added Hegbloom. “The Ram 1500 EcoDiesel is a game-changer in the industry, and has proved to be a key to conquest sales over our competitors.”
When the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel opened for orders earlier this year, Ram Truck received more than 8,000 requests within three days, which quickly filled the initial allocation for the exclusive powertrain.
The announcement follows the Chrysler Group’s decision to raise production at its Warren Truck plant outside of Detroit by 100 units per day or about 28,500 units annually to keep up with demand.
Chrysler’s Ram trucks have been steadily gaining marketshare, primarily from Chevrolet, according to IHS Automotive, and the strong sales of the diesel-powered truck are likely to intensify the pressure on General Motors and Ford Motor Co. to add diesel engines options to their full-size truck lines.
Nissan, which has relatively small stake in the pickup truck market, has already committed to adding a diesel engine to its Titan pickup truck.
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GM plans to add a diesel engine option to its Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon midsized trucks next year, Jeff Luke, GM chief of trucking engineering, re-confirmed.
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Ford, GM and Chrysler also have offered optional diesel engines in the heavy-duty pickup for years and the Cummins-built diesel engine offered on the Ram Heavy Duty has an 85% take rate, while both Ford and GM have made substantial investments in new diesel engines for their heavy-duty trucks.
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Until Chrysler introduced the diesel-powered Ram at the start of the 2014 model year, gasoline engines ruled the segment. Fiat Group’s VM Motori builds the EcoDiesel and has increased production to meet North American consumer demand.
The 2015 Ram 1500 is America’s most fuel-efficient pickup truck with its exclusive 3.0-liter V-6 EcoDiesel that packs 240 horsepower, 420 lb.-ft. of torque and gets 28 miles per gallon. It can also tow 9,200 pounds.