DaimlerChrysler to offer diesel version of Jeep Liberty

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WINDSOR, Ont. — DaimlerChrysler will offer its Jeep Liberty with a diesel engine in 2004 in an attempt to make use of diesel fuel in light passenger vehicles more popular with North American drivers.

The company believes more widespread use of diesel fuel is the best way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in North America, as well as reliance on imported oil.

The current legal limit of sulphur concentration in diesel fuel is 330 parts per million, but that will be reduced to 15 ppm by 2006 in both Canada and the United States.

DaimlerChrysler wants the Canadian and U.S. governments to speed up the introduction of low-sulphur diesel fuel by offering incentives to the oil industry. Dieter Zetsche, president and chief executive officer of the Chrysler Group, told the Windsor Star that DaimlerChrysler is “taking the first step” towards reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but needs support from government and the oil companies.

DaimlerChrysler will sell its diesel version of the Jeep Liberty at a loss. Prices have not yet been set, but the diesel Liberty will be more expensive than gasoline-powered versions.

About 70 per cent of DaimlerChrysler’s Dodge Ram trucks are sold with Cummins diesel engines, but marketing studies show that only six per cent of buyers would want to buy a diesel car even though diesel engines are more enivronmentally friendly than gasoline engines.

The Liberty will be the first light-duty diesel vehicle offered by one of the Big Three automakers since the 1970s, when an attempt by GM to introduce a diesel passenger vehicle failed.

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