– Launch of the 2005 Jeep Liberty CRD, the first diesel-powered mid-sized SUV in the U.S. market, has been met with strong customer response, with vehicles moving quickly out of dealer showrooms and into the hands of new owners.
At the end of May more than 6,000 units had been shipped to dealers, and 3,000 of those sold. Vehicles are sitting on the dealer lots an average of 23 days, about one-third the typical time.
Jeff Bell, vice president, Chrysler & Jeep, addressed the Motor Press Guild in Los Angeles on the challenges and opportunities of selling diesel passenger vehicles in the U.S. market. He said that many Americans think of diesel as smelly, smoky, loud and dirty, an image built in part on memory of 1970s diesel technology. "The major obstacle to increasing the sales of diesel-powered passenger vehicles in the U.S. is the notion that diesel is an old, inefficient technology," Bell said.
DaimlerChrysler launched the Jeep Liberty CRD, along with the Mercedes- Benz E 320 cdi diesel luxury sedan, to test the U.S. consumer response to diesel and to change the image of diesel among U.S. consumers.
Because of an infusion of technology, including common-rail diesel (CRD), today's diesel engines have 80 percent lower particulate emissions, 70 percent lower NOx emissions, 15 percent improved fuel consumption, 50 percent more power and 30 percent more torque than diesel engines had just a decade ago. They are also much quieter.
The 2005 Jeep Liberty CRD, equipped with a 2.8L, four-cylinder, turbo common-rail diesel engine, combines the torque of a V-8, the acceleration of a V-6 and the fuel economy of a four-cylinder engine. Benefits of the Jeep Liberty CRD include:
Best-in-class torque and towing capacity.
Best-in-class range – 500 miles highway.
22 percent higher fuel economy compared with a comparable gasoline-powered Liberty (3.7L, V-6 engine).
Lower emissions of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and hydrocarbons.
Diesel engines are also durable – often running hundreds of thousands of miles with little routine maintenance, Bell said. Chrysler Group is extending the warranty on diesel engines in all 2006-model year vehicles; the Diesel Engine Limited Warranty covers engine parts and components up to five years or 100,000 miles. This durability also helps diesel-powered vehicles hold their value: in one example, a diesel-power vehicle had a 64 percent higher residual value than a comparable gasoline model.
Bell acknowledged that the auto industry still has technical challenges before diesel vehicles become commonplace on U.S. streets and highways. Most notable are the need to further reduce emissions of NOx and particulates.