How can we tell the 2013 Ram 1500 shown here is a diesel-powered prototype? There are a number of hints, but the most damning evidence is the engineer filling the truck with a fresh tank of diesel.
That Dodge – er, sorry; Ram – is interested in a diesel-powered light-duty pickup is hardly surprising. Chrysler executives have hinted at such a product for years. In fact, Chrysler once had a contract in place with Cummins – the same diesel engine manufacturer that builds the 6.7-liter turbo-diesel I-6 found in Ram HD models – to develop a diesel V-8 for light-duty applications. That contract was voided during Chrysler’s bankruptcy, though Cummins has continued to develop small diesel engines, including some in partnership with the Department of Energy.
Chrysler didn’t exactly pick up the contract again after its restructuring, but it didn’t abandon the idea of a light-duty diesel pickup, either. According to Allpar, the truck here boasts a 3.0-liter turbo-diesel DOHC V-6 sourced from Fiat subsidiary VM Motori SpA.
If that engine sounds familiar, it should: it’s the same diesel engine offered in the European-spec Jeep Grand Cherokee, and will be offered in North American Grand Cherokees for the 2013 model year. The fact that this Ram prototype was shot following engineers in a European Grand Cherokee CRD lends further credibility to this hypothesis.
We’d suspect the engine is more than up to the task of hauling the Ram around town. In Grand Cherokee guise, the engine produces 237 hp at 4000 rpm, and a stout 405 lb-ft of torque at 1800 rpm. According to VM’s spec chart for the A630 engine, that’s about as much torque as the DOHC V-6 can crank out, but its maximum power can be increased by roughly 10 hp. Compared to the 2013 Ram 1500’s new 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6, the VM V-6 is shy about 40 hp, but offers nearly double the torque – something pickup owners could appreciate when hauling cargo or towing heavy trailers.
So, does this sighting mean a diesel Ram 1500 will roll into dealer showrooms sooner than later? Perhaps not. Allpar claims these trucks are very early prototypes, built mostly to evaluate packaging, tuning, and thermal issues before development progresses any further. These trucks were also allegedly hand-built in an engineering facility, and not actually produced on the Ram’s production assembly line. Still, we can’t help but think this makes for an interesting proposition: pickup buyers are already more open to the idea of a diesel powerplant, and if Jeep’s already working to make the engine 50-state compliant for the Grand Cherokee, the cost of federalizing the engine has already been amortized. Both factors seem like positive steps towards building a solid business case for a diesel option.
What say you: would you buy a Ram light-duty diesel if Chrysler completely green-lights the program, or should Chrysler pursue a fuel-sipping powerplant more along the lines of Ford’s F-150 EcoBoost? Have your say below.