Market Snapshot



According to AutoWeek, Detroit’s automakers are working quickly to install fuel-saving diesel engines in their light trucks. And Nissan and Toyota may join them as well. Diesels have been common in the domestic automakers’ heavy-duty pickups, but as fuel economy concerns grow, as well as pressures form the competition, we may start seeing them in the light-duty trucks as well.

According to AutoWeek, Ford Motor Co. will likely be the first to market when it puts a diesel in the F-150 pickup in 2009. In May, General Motors announced its plans for a 4.5L Duramax diesel to be used in its light-duty pickups. Some news reports have indicated that Nissan is planning a diesel for the Titan, while Toyota has indicated it is looking into the possibility of a diesel for the Tundra.

Diesel engines typically boost fuel economy by 25%–30%. They are attractive for consumers who tow heavy loads, and they also have a higher resale value. A Dodge Ram 1500 pickup with a diesel should see improved fuel economy of 19.5 mpg city/25 mpg highway, compared to the gasoline-powered version with 15 mpg city/19 mpg highway. A Hummer H2 powered with a diesel engine could get 16 mpg or more on the highway, compared to the current model, which gets 13 to 14 mph on the highway.

Ford’s diesel plans include a light-duty diesel for the F-150 and possibly the Expedition in 2009. This 4.4L engine will be a larger version of the 3.6L turbocharged V8 used in the European-market Land Rover Range Rovers. “Our 30 years of truck leadership is founded on having the most capable and innovative trucks our there,” says Wes Sherwood of Ford.

Earlier this year, Chrysler confirmed that it will use at least one new engine from Cummins Inc. in the Dodge Ram 1500 pickup. This will be a 4.2L V6 that Cummins developed with the United States Department of Energy. According to AutoWeek, the early test version of this diesel pushed out 190 hp and 570 lb.-ft. of torque.

The diesels have been popular and profitable for the Detroit 3. Roughly 40% of the 796,000 Ford F-Series trucks sold in the United States last year were diesel-powered. The sales of GM’s heavy-duty Silverado and Sierra diesels are capped at around 200,000 units annually due to production restraints at the plant in Moraine, Ohio. Dodge sold about 150,000 heavy-duty Ram pickups equipped with the Cummins diesel in 2006.

A diesel will cost a consumer about $6,660 more than a comparable gasoline engine. But AutoWeek says that a study by the Martec Group shows that after 4.5 years of ownership, a diesel truck is worth $4,700 more than a gasoline-powered truck. After those 4.5 years, a diesel owner will have spent about $4,200 less on fuel.

In summary, the following are expected to hit the market in future:

  • Ford—4.4L turbocharged V8 for F-150 and possibly Expedition in 2009
  • Dodge—4.2L turbocharged V6 for Ram 1500 in 2010
  • GM—4.5L turbocharged V8 for Silverado/Sierra pickups and Hummer H2 in 2010
  • Nissan—Not definite. Might use V6 or V8 diesel in Titan (from International Truck and Engine Corp.) in 2010
  • Toyota—Not definite. Currently working with Isuzu to develop diesels; might see a diesel in Tundra in 2010

Source:  Truett, Richard.  (July 2, 2007).  “Driven to Diesels: Automakers Scramble to Offer Diesels in Light-Duty Trucks.”  AutoWeek. Retrieved July 2, 2007, from