While diesels are required equipment in heavy Class 8 trucks and a popular choice at the smaller end of the spectrum in Class 2-3 pickups, they have been noticeably absent from most Class 1 trucks.
Prior bad experience with light-duty diesels in North America doesn’t do much good for the engines’ reputations. Neither does outdated stereotyping by the eco-minded left. Both go a long way toward discouraging the expanded use of diesels in light trucks and passenger cars.
The Europeans are no slouches in the desire to be green, though they call it “blue”, as in blue skies. Diesel engines are quite popular in that market, all the way down to the smallest of compact cars.
In spite of the image projected by the eco-lobby, modern diesels represent the shortest path to any remaining jumps in reducing exhaust emissions. Current diesel technology is such that when operated in regions with poorer air quality, the engines’ exhaust emissions are cleaner than the ambient air.
Whether it’s the much-maligned CO2 emissions, or the emission of real pollutants, improvements will largely come down to reducing displacement. The less air and fuel the engine takes in, the less of anything it puts out. Using diesels in combination with advanced transmissions allows displacement to be cut while at the same time delivering equal, or better, performance than a gasoline engine.
With that in mind, more than one light-duty manufacturer is working to bring diesel power to the smaller end of the truck spectrum in North America. Ford has announced a small diesel power plant for its soon-to-debut light-duty van, the 2014 Ford Transit. Rumors also abound regarding the near-term arrival of a diesel in the popular F-150.
At Chrysler, a diesel variant of the Grand Cherokee launched earlier this year after a five-year diesel drought at the company’s Jeep brand. The same 3.0L V6 EcoDiesel is slated to debut in the half-ton Ram 1500 as a 2014 model.
Tags: Diesel Engines
, Fuel Economy