Ford, Jeep Eyeing More Diesels for U.S. If Demand Rises
Domestics Ready to Respond with More Models
With the recent unveiling of the Chevrolet Cruze diesel, the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee with an available turbodiesel V-6, and the new 2014 Ram ProMaster van with a diesel option, there seems to be a growing increase in manufacturer activity and consumer interest in diesels. The newer diesels have received consistent praise and acclaim from the automotive press for their strong torque, fuel economy, and surprising refinement and, within certain market niches, have a strong following. The majority of heavy-duty pickups sold are equipped with diesel engines, and Volkswagen, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz are seeing take rates of 20 percent or more on some models that offer a diesel option.
After a hastily introduced effort in the late 1970s and early '80s plagued by quality and reliability issues, General Motors withdrew from diesel offerings in North America almost entirely except for trucks. The 2014 Chevrolet Cruze diesel represents the company's first foray back into diesel cars in almost 30 years. Some believe the Cruze diesel is an important harbinger for diesel's popularity in the U.S., and could result in many more diesel models being introduced if it exceeds sales expectations.
Mike Manley, CEO of the Jeep brand, told Mark Phelan of the Detroit Free Press that Wrangler owners have been vocal in their desire for a diesel option in the iconic SUV. Manley said the company will carefully watch customer reception of the new 2014 Grand Cherokee diesel to weigh whether to offer a diesel option in the Wrangler.
Separately, Ford COO Mark Fields said the company is poised to act quickly in response to growing diesel demand in the U.S., speaking with Karl Henkel of The Detroit News. Ford has a broad arsenal of diesel engines sold worldwide, most notably in European markets. However, for the time being, the company remains committed to its EcoBoost strategy of employing smaller-displacement gasoline direct injection turbocharged engines to increase fuel economy while still delivering the level of performance customers expect. Aside from the F-Series Super Duty trucks, the only other diesel model Ford has announced for the North American market is a five-cylinder turbodiesel option for the forthcoming 2014 Transit full-size van.