Photo courtesy of Autoblog

    dodge-hornet-630.jpgby Patrick Rall

    The Dodge brand is no stranger to diesel engines, as the Cummins Turbo Diesel has been a mainstay in the truck lineup for years. But since Ram Trucks split away from the Dodge cars, minivans and SUVs, there haven’t been any diesel powered Dodge models. But with CEO Marchionne being a professed believer in a non-hybrid, diesel/gas future, the writing must be on the wall, right?

    Even the Jeep brand has had a handful of diesel burning models with
    rumors of more on the way, but due to the relative lack of interest in
    diesel passenger cars in the US, the Chrysler Group has kept the oil
    burners in the trucks and SUVs.  However, with new parent company Fiat
    having generations of diesel passenger car success – combined with the
    influx of new diesel models from European companies and even Chevrolet –
    we could soon see a Dodge vehicle powered by a diesel engine.

    In Europe, diesel engines have been a popular choice since their
    introduction decades ago, but with the exception of a few diesel
    Volkswagen models, there have been very few non-gasoline combustion
    vehicles offered in the US.  Many American consumers relate “diesel
    engine” to being a noisy, brutal engine dumping exhaust fumes like a 70s
    era tractor trailer.

    Modern technology has made diesel
    engines not just quieter, but cleaner and more fuel efficient.  BMW used the 2011 Super Bowl
    to introduce their newest diesel 3-series advertising campaign, showing
    off how much cleaner the new diesel technology is, and while it is no
    surprise to see European companies offering a diesel powered vehicle for
    the American market, it did come as a shock when General Motors
    announced that they will soon be selling their popular Chevy Cruze in
    diesel form. 

    The success of the diesel Cruze along with the growing
    popularity of the European diesel models from VW and BMW could lead to
    more oilburners in the US. With the help of Fiat technology – Dodge
    would be an obvious choice for a new clean-diesel powered vehicle.

    This new Dodge diesel vehicle could come in the form of the new C
    segment sedan that is set to debut at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show, reportedly being called the Dodge Hornet (pictured above). 
    Serving as the replacement for the Dodge Caliber, the new Alfa
    Romeo-based compact sedan will initially be gas powered, but depending on
    the continued growth of the diesel passenger car segment, perhaps Fiat
    will put together a diesel package to go head to head with the Cruze. 

    Also, if Fiat wants to test the waters for a diesel passenger car, the
    company has several tiny 4-cylinder diesel mills currently used in
    Europe to make up some of the country’s most fuel efficient models that
    could plug right into the American-sold Fiat 500.  Provided that things
    continue to boom in the diesel car market, these tiny Fiat diesels could
    find their way into not just the Alfa-based models, but with the Dodge
    Grand Caravan being marketed in Europe with a diesel engine, the
    American auto industry’s most popular minivan could be the first Dodge
    brand vehicle to be the recipient of Fiat’s clean diesel technology.

    What do you think? Should Dodge delve into diesel? Does anyone in America really care? Shout off in the Forums!