Dieter Zetsche, president and chief executive officer of Chrysler Group, announced on Nov. 29 that Chrysler Group will test the North American market with a diesel-powered Jeep Liberty in 2004. Although DaimlerChrysler offers several diesel-powered passenger vehicles in Europe, where approximately 35 percent of all vehicles are powered by diesel, the Jeep Liberty will be the first light-duty sport/utility offering with a diesel powertrain in the U.S. and Canada.

The diesel Liberty will be powered by a 2.8-liter common rail turbo-diesel engine and available with a manual or automatic transmission as well as two- or four-wheel drive. The diesel version of the Liberty is expected to deliver up to a 30 percent improvement in fuel economy compared to the gasoline-powered Liberty.

The introduction of the diesel-powered Liberty is part of Chrysler Group’s effort to encourage American acceptance of diesels. The U.S. could reduce its oil use by approximately 800 million gallons and carbon monoxide emissions by eight million tons annually if Americans purchased diesels at the same rate as Europeans, said Zetsche.

“While there are legitimate concerns about the particulate matter and oxides of nitrogen exhaust from diesels, the introduction of high quality, low-sulfur diesel fuel will enable a reduction of these emissions,” said Zetsche. Diesel fuel available in Europe is six times cleaner than that offered in the U.S., due to a much lower sulfur content extracted during the refining process, Zetsche added.

Originally posted on Fleet Financials