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2013 North American International Auto Show

From Motor City to Diesel City

May 1, 2013
Photographers: Sean P. Holman
Diesel-powered vehicles are becoming more prominent on American soil, and nowhere was that more apparent than the Detroit-hosted 2013 North American International Auto Show. This years show was a hotbed for diesel-related introductions, and everywhere you looked there was a new diesel under the spotlights. Read on to see some of the important highlights of this years show.
2014 Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel
Arguably, the biggest news was the official unveiling of the long-awaited 14 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel. The Grand Cherokee, which is also freshened, now has an optional 3.0L VM Motori V-6 with an output of 240 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. Backing the new diesel is Chryslers excellent 845RE eight-speed automatic. Rear-wheel-drive models are said to get a rating of 30 mpg on the highway and a range in excess of 730 miles, while four-wheel-drive models benefit from a lower crawl ratio of 44.1:1. It also doesnt hurt that the diesel Grand gets an impressive, as well as best-in-class, tow rating of 7,400 pounds. Look for a full review in an upcoming issue.
Massive Transit
Ford made a bold statement about the companys new Transit fullsize van. This banner was seen hanging on the building across the street from the convention center. The all-new unibody Transit is available in multiple wheelbases, roof heights, and powertrainsincluding the 3.2L Power Stroke I-5 (page 60)and will eventually replace the venerable E-Series.
Photo 4/13   |   2013 North American International Auto Show ford Transit Banner
Tow Master
So we may have missed the mark slightly on the cover of our January 13 issue when we estimated the 13 Ram 3500 towing capacity to be more than 23,000 pounds. Well, the numbers are official: 30,000-pound fifth-wheel trailer capacity, and a GCWR of 37,600 pounds. This astonishing rating is courtesy of a high-output Cummins 6.7L I-6 with 850 lb-ft of torque, a new high-strength steel frame, and a completely new radius-arm front suspension. Other features adding to the Rams towing acumen are the integrated fifth-wheel and gooseneck hitches, a reverse camera at the back of the cab, and a Class V hitch, good for 17,000 pounds of conventional towing.
VW CrossBlue Concept
Dont let the hybrid badging on the Volkswagen CrossBlue concept scare you, this is a diesel-electric packing two electric motors and a 190hp TDI engine under the hood. The front motor has an output of 54 hp, while the rear motor more than doubles that number with 114 hp. Together, the powertrain twists to the tune of 516 lb-ft of torque and is estimated at reaching 35 mpg, or 89 mpge with electricity as the fuel source. The vehicle itself previews an upcoming production SUV that will presumably go head-to-head with the Grand Cherokee.
Photo 7/13   |   2013 North American International Auto Show vw Crossblue Concept
Questioning the Top
While at the North American International Auto Show, we had the opportunity to sit down with Fred Diaz, CEO of Ram, and Mike Manley, CEO of Jeep, to ask them a few questions about diesel in relation to their respective brands.
Photo 8/13   |   2013 North American International Auto Show fred Diaz
Fred Diaz, Ram Trucks CEO Mike Manley, Jeep CEO
DP: With Ram coming to market with some seriously competitive trucks, what are your goals for Ram going forward?
Diaz: We remain very humble, we respect our competitors, but we are very, very hungry, like ferocious dogs, and we want more. We continue to push the envelope with product development and R&D, and we are not messing around. You saw what we were able to do with our light-duty, and we just announced towing numbers for the new Heavy Duty.
DP: With the popularity of diesel in HD trucks, do you see diesel an increasing part of Rams strategy going forward?
Diaz: You know, the Cummins diesel is a big part of what we are doing with HD. It is such a great engine, a great name, and we have no intentions of going a different direction with regard to Heavy Duty diesel. We continue to develop and prosper with that relationship and move forward.
DP: That being said, weve heard rumors about ½-ton diesel Rams for years now. Can you comment?
Diaz: Everything is being considered as far as where we could go with Ram in the future, relative to diesel technology. Certainly, I am not in the position where I can make any formal announcements about what we may or may not be doing with diesel technology in a light-duty 1500.
DP: What do you see as the brands biggest challenges in the marketplace going forward?
Diaz: Well, we know GM is going to be coming out with its truck in about half a year, and we know Ford is going to follow suit the following year. So the challenge is, and will always continue to be, getting defections and conquests from the other brands, which is a big fundamental reason as to why we continue to gain market share. We hope the awards and accolades weve won will cause people to think, It has been a long time since I have been in one of their trucks, and maybe I am a tried-and-true GM or Ford guy, but I need to go check out Rams trucks, because I have heard so many great things about them in the press, and from people who own them, who cant say enough good things about them.
DP: Is there anything you would like to say to the Diesel Power reader?
Diaz: Back at the Texas State Fair, where we revealed the new HD truck, I promised the world that we would come out with eye-popping, bone-jarring, earth-shattering, towing capability and that we would be best-in-class. I think we shocked the world when we went from where we were in the low 20s all the way up to 30,000 pounds of towing capability. In fact, its so high, there isnt even a trailer right now that will pull 30,000 pounds, so we have the trailer industry scrambling to develop a trailer that will handle what our truck can do. When I tell you that we are going to be best-in-class, I mean it.
DP: Congratulations on the new Grand Cherokee, especially now that it is available with a diesel engine. What does this important product mean for Jeep?
Photo 9/13   |   2013 North American International Auto Show mike Manley
Manley: For us, firstly, it is the return to diesel in the U.S., which is the result of a couple of things: the continued emergence of diesel as being very relevant in the SUV segment and then secondly, many of our Jeep customers have expressed an interest or have owned a Jeep diesel in the past and have been asking for it to come back. So what I think it does is fill a commitment to them and opens up a part of the SUV segment that has been growing in recent years thanks to more acceptance from the U.S. public, which means more possibilities, and big smiles on a lot of Jeep customers faces.
DP: Do you see the Grand Cherokee diesel as just the beginning of the diesel message at Jeep, or is it simply a case of the right drivetrain in the right product at the right time?
Manley: No, I think potentially it could be the beginning of the diesel message at Jeep. As you know, we have diesel in our European vehicles, but not all of thembecause of the technology required to come to the U.S.are applicable to come to the U.S. But, this could potentially be a part of a larger story. If the initial reaction translates to market performance, then we can look at the larger Jeeps for diesel applications in them as well. What I continue to hear is great things about putting a diesel in the Grand Cherokee, but everyone wants to know when we will be putting it in Wrangler. I know there is a lot of interest in that.
DP: What type of pricing are we talking about with the Grand Cherokee diesel option?
Manley: Clearly, it is going to be a premium. It is a much more expensive powertrain, as we both know. What we are trying to do is make sure it is a reasonable premium, keeping in line with what weve seen in the market so far. We are going to announce prices in the very near future.
DP: Which vehicles do you see the Grand Cherokee diesel competing against?
Manley: Well, a number of the German imports, to be perfectly frank. Youve seen Volkswagen put diesel in virtually every one of its vehicles, and I think its forged a path in terms of increasing acceptance. We have a huge amount of confidence in our diesel; it has been thoroughly tested in Europe, and I think the numbers we announced are pretty staggering. So I think we have a very, very competitive product.
DP: What percentage of the Grand Cherokee mix do you anticipate diesel taking?
Manley: We have a range of differences of opinion. If I look back at our historical diesel sales, it has taken up to about 5 percent of our mix, which is in keeping with where the segment is. However, if you look at Volkswagens performance, it is much, much higher. I believe youll see between 10 to 15 percent of the mix.
DP: Does the Grand Cherokee diesel have the ability to be a halo vehicle for Jeep?
Manley: With certain customers, absolutely. Youll always have those people who love their V-8s as well, but those people who love diesel are very much going to gravitate toward diesel as their favorite Grand Cherokee. The vehicle brings something in addition to Grand Cherokee and to Jeep that wasnt there. Having the fuel economy climb to 30 mpg, having the 730-mile range, just the torque, and we know what that will do to capability when its matched to the eight-speed. So, of course, at the end of the day numbers are important, but I think this vehicle will do a lot more for Jeep than just what the numbers will speak.
F-Series Tease
While the Ford Atlas concept, which stole the show as a glimpse at the next-generation F-150, was powered with a gasoline EcoBoost engine, we have heard rumblings that a diesel could be in the cards for the production truck. How about that 3.2L Power Stroke from the Transit?
Photo 10/13   |   2013 North American International Auto Show ford Atlas Concept
BlueTech I-4
Mercedes-Benz had the companys new 2.1L Bluetec I-4 on display next to the GLK 250 it will be powering. This engine puts out an impressive 200 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque and should be quite the efficient performer in the small SUV. Not many details have been announced yet, but well share them when we know more.
Diesel Racer
Proudly displayed in the Mazda stand was the new Mazda 6 Skyactiv-D racecar. The biodiesel-powered racer puts out 400 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque from a 2.2L I-4 that uses 60 percent stock parts. We cant wait to see the Mazda prove the companys diesel technology in the upcoming race season.
Photo 13/13   |   2013 North American International Auto Show mazda Race Car

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