Chrysler officially terminated its light-duty diesel contract with Cummins during bankruptcy, but discussions between the two companies appear to have restarted.
“We’re in discussions with Cummins,” Joe Veltri, vice president of Chrysler product planning, told Pickuptrucks.com. “There’s no contract, but a [light-duty] diesel is in our plan.”
Before bankruptcy, Chrysler aimed to launch a Ram 1500 diesel in 2011, but the contract between “old” Chrysler and Cummins was voided as part of the bankruptcy proceedings. The project seems to be on once again. But perhaps more interesting is the possibility of offering the light-duty Cummins -- rumored to be a 5.0-liter turbo-diesel -- as another engine offering in the Ram 2500.
“Think about it,” Veltri said. “Could I also put it into a three-quarter-ton truck? Does every guy need a 6.7-liter diesel? It could certainly be packaged in a heavy-duty [truck].”
Offering the engine in two different models could help improve fuel economy while providing impressive power. In addition to the obvious CAFE benefits, a light-duty Ram diesel would be a class exclusive -- Ford, General Motors, and Toyota have all postponed similar programs.
Of course, one issue remains the same: cost. Diesel engines and their subsystems (particularly the exhaust treatments) aren’t exactly cheap, especially when compared to gasoline engines. According to Veltri, the challenge is not only the cost to engineer and manufacture such an engine, but selling it to customers without incurring a loss.
“The challenge is cost. You need to be able to demonstrate to the customer that there’s a benefit. If I can demonstrate lower maintenance costs and [higher] resale value, I can demonstrate a business case. You’re paying for [the diesel] upfront. You’re not going to get it back until you sell it.”