Wrangling Diesels

Diesel fuel is generally more expensive than standard gasoline but you get something extra with diesel fuel, you get more energy per gallon.  Is this important, well, this basic law of chemistry essentially means that diesel powered automobiles and trucks, with all other variables being equal, can deliver higher fuel mileage than gasoline-based vehicles do.  This is one of the reasons that diesel engines are such a popular options in commercial equipment and in many consumer automobiles .

The fact that diesel-powered vehicles can achieve high fuel mileage has not escaped car manufacturers.  This is in part because of federal regulations.  All the companies that sell cars in the United States are obliged by the US Government to meet certain fuel usage requirements and those requirements tend to get more stringent over time. The specific legislation involved is called CAFE or the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards.  The graph below illustrates how the average fuel economy continuously increases from 2012 to 2022. The requirement for CAFÉ is to be 54.5 MPG by the year 2025.

At the risk of stating the obvious, the increased fuel mileage as dictated by the federal government delivers tremendous advantages to the consumer.  Recent statistics have shown that the present CAFÉ standards will save Americans more than $8000 over the lifetime of their car and less fuel being burned leads directly to less air pollution and a cleaner environment.   Additionally, CAFÉ standards reduce our reliance on foreign oil and thus contribute to our energy security.  With advantages like this, it is easy to see why the Feds have been leaning on the car manufacturers to increase their vehicle’s fuel economy performance.

To meet up-and-coming CAFÉ standards, Chrysler Corporation is working on an ultra-efficient diesel engine called the EcoDiesel.  The engine is being developed in conjunction with VM Motori, an Italian automotive engineering firm.  We looked into the jeep Wranglers at Reedman Toll and asked them if they could fill us in on this exciting new engine option.  They said they had been told of some of the EcoDiesel engine specifications.  They told us that it is said to be a 3.0 liter V6, rated 241 horsepower and capable of a strong 406 lb-ft of torque and further details would be forthcoming.

The EcoDiesel is said to be destined for Chrysler Corporation trucks as well as select passenger vehicles.  According to Chrysler, the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee is said one of them.  Combined with other fuel saving technologies such as an eight-speed automatic transmission and low drag air-conditioning technology, the 2014 Grand Cherokee is rumored to deliver some 23 MPG around town and 33 mpg on the highway.

Whether this Italian-designed diesel will be joined by other counterparts in the Chrysler model lineup remains to be seen.  Will we see smaller diesel engines, perhaps for the economy cars?  Smart money would say that Chrysler is bound to leverage its relationship with their major diesel engine design firm, VM Motori, and produce several car models with diesel engines,  certainly many others in the Jeep line up.

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