Sunday, 5 July 2015

Demand for Ram diesel is “overwhelming” - FCA

Demand for the EcoDiesel version of the Ram 1500 pick-up truck has been described as “overwhelming”, according to Fiat Chrysler Automotive (FCA).
“To date, the EcoDiesel mix varies by month, but we’re generally running 15% to 18% (although we hit 30% in November),” writes Dave Elshoff, head of Ram Truck media relations, reportedly told WardsAuto in an email.

For calendar 2015, Elshoff said that EcoDiesel take-rate is running at 18 per cent.

“We’re still ramping up to the 20 per cent goal, but overall Ram 1500 sales keep increasing and make for a moving target,” he writes.

The 3-litre V6 diesel engine with a compacted graphite iron (CGI) cylinder block engine is sourced from VM Motori’s plant in Cento, Italy, wholly owned by FCA.

Bob Lee, head of global powertrain coordination for FCA, reportedly says production bottlenecks at the plant have been “fixed” to free up additional volume and meet demand for the engine.

The same engine is installed in the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Maserati Ghibli sedan.

The Grand Cherokee received the engine several months before the Ram, largely because FCA officials noted BMW and Mercedes-Benz had achieved high diesel take-rates for their X5 and M-Class CUVs, respectively.

In 2012, according to WardsAuto, the X5 diesel reached its highest penetration rate in the U.S., 23.1 per cent. Through May of this year, 13.1 per cent of X5s have been delivered with the diesel.

“They were sold out of diesels for the X5. They couldn’t make enough of them,” Lee told WardsAuto recently.

“We looked at that and said, ‘We can do this with Grand Cherokee,’” he says. “We made a very credible product, next to the X5. News reports were quite glowing about the package. Yet the sales rates never even approached what X5 did.”

WardsAuto claims that through April, which marks the halfway point of the 2015 model year, FCA has installed the EcoDiesel V-6 in 14.4 per cent of the 257,902 4x2 and 4x4 Ram 1500 pickups. That is equivalent to 36,106 V6 diesel engines VM Motori has had to supply.

The 4x2 installation rate is 8.4 per cent, while 17.2 per cent of 4x4s receive the diesel.

Last September, following brisk demand, officials said FCA would ramp up the mix to 20 per cent from the initial plan of 10 per cent, applied to 2015 production.

In the wake of such figures it will be interesting to see if General Motors’ product planners take action on the diesel front. GM developed its own small V8 but then shelved it.

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