It’s a good thing Ram received more than 8,000 orders in four days back in February for its 1500 model with the new EcoDiesel V6. That means the bet it took on an oil-burning, light-duty truck – one on which competitors such as Ford, General Motors and Toyota declined to wager – paid off.
The odds didn’t seem to be in the company’s favor. Ram had to overcome several challenges:
1) Complying with stringent U.S. on-board diagnostics (OBD) and emissions regulations.
2) Balancing noise, vibration and harshness (NVH); miles per gallon; and the diesel’s capabilities to achieve the best value for customers.
3) Packaging the V6 and its aftertreatment system in a pre-existing vehicle’s architecture.
4) America’s reluctance to embrace diesel engines in pick-ups that aren’t of the heavy-duty variety.
But Ram seems to be raking in the chips now.
Perhaps it’s because of the powerplant’s surprising lack of noise and clatter. “When you drive the Ram 1500, it’s so quiet you don’t realize it has a diesel engine,” says Luis Cattani, chief engineer of diesel platforms.
Or maybe it’s due to the V6’s 20 city/28 highway/23 combined mpg rating, the 420 lb-ft of torque, the 9,200 lbs. of towing capacity, or that it’s found under the hoods of Maseratis.
Whatever the reasons are, the motor’s success creates new challenges: making sure supply keeps pace with demand, and figuring out exactly what kinds of customers are taking the new Ram 1500 EcoDiesel home.