Jeep's CEO says the brand is close to making the decision to build diesel engined "larger" Jeeps for North America.
From The Detroit Free Press:
Future Jeep models in the U.S. could be powered by diesel engines, Michael Manley president and CEO of the Chrysler’s Jeep brand said today.
Manley said diesel engines could be offered on the Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Grand Cherokee in the U.S. and Canada within two or three years. Diesel engines could help Jeep improve its fuel economy and would give customers another option as gas prices increase.
Diesel fuel is currently selling in metro Detroit at an average of $4.04 a gallon, according to AAA, compared with an average of $3.82 for unleaded regular. But a diesel engine is about 30% to 35% more fuel efficient than a gas engine in the same vehicle.
“Diesel in some of our models makes absolute sense,” Manley said today in Auburn Hills where he revealed six specialized Jeeps that will participate later this month at a the annual Easter Jeep Safari in Moab Utah. “But I still have to make sure there is a sufficient marketplace here to make it make sense from a business perspective.”
In Europe, more than 80% of Jeeps purchased have diesel engines, Manley said. Also, advances in the technology used to meet fuel emission regulations are improving and will help Chrysler simultaneously meet regulations in the U.S. and Canada.
Next week, Chrysler is launching a Jeep Grand Cherokee in Europe. The midsize SUV would be the most likely vehicle for a diesel engine in the U.S. and Canada.
The redesigned Grand Cherokee, introduced last year, is Jeep’s best-selling model in the U.S. However, the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, gets a combined 16 miles per gallon with two-wheel drive compared with a combined 20 mpg for a similar Ford Explorer.
“When you look at the U.S. market, diesel applications in the larger vehicles probably make more sense then they do in the smaller ones, purely because of the cost of the powertrains and the treatments that are required,” to meet emission standards, Manley said."