Cummins, Chrysler Extend Truck Diesel Deal

Multi-year deal okayed by new Chrysler management.

by on Feb.03, 2010

This 2010 Dodge Ram 4500 features a 6.7-liter Cummins Turbo Diesel.

Cummins Inc. has signed a multiyear extension of its current agreement to supply Chrysler Group LLC with 6.7-liter turbodiesel engines for the automaker’s Ram Heavy Duty pickups and Chassis Cab trucks.

The announcement is a vote of confidence in Chrysler from a key supplier and both companies said the partners expected to expand on the 21-year-old relationship in the future.

Cummins has produced over 1.7 million Cummins turbodiesel engines for Dodge Ram Heavy Duty trucks since 1989.  More than 80% of Ram Heavy Duty truck customers purchase their truck with the Cummins “oil-burner,” which not only gives them significantly power mileage than conventional gasoline powertrains but also a lot more cargo-hauling torque.

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The first Cummins Turbo Diesel, in 1989, was a 5.9-liter V8 rated at 160 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque. Today the 6.7-liter Turbo Diesel delivers 350 hp and 650 lb-ft.

Turbodiesels, like this 6.7-liter stump-puller from Cummins, are a big draw among full-size pickup buyers.

The 118 percent increase in horsepower and 86 percent increase in torque have been matched by a 90% reduction in smog-causing emissions. In 2007, Dodge and Cummins produced the cleanest heavy-duty diesel pickup in the market by meeting U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 2010 emissions levels a full three years in advance.

“Cummins and Chrysler have a long and important history together,” said Dave Crompton, VP and General Manager, MidRange Engine Business. “The Chrysler business continues to be a key part of our mid-range engine business.”

Like its cross-town rivals, Chrysler has been focusing its diesel efforts on the high end of the truck market.  General Motors is using the high-mileage/high-torque technolog in its Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups, while Ford is focused on the bigger versions of its F-Series, where mileage is a particularly compelling factor for buyers.

The question is how much further Chrysler will spread diesel power.  It’s currently the only Detroit maker using the technology in a smaller model, currently in its Jeep Grand Cherokee.  But the maker’s new management is led by Sergio Marchionne, who serves a second role as CEO of Chrysler’s new partner, Fiat.  And like other European makers, Fiat is heavily invested in diesel power down to its smallest models.

Whether some of those could eventually be sourced for smaller passenger cars remains to be seen – along with the possibility Cummins diesels could work their way into other, bigger Chrysler models.

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