New Diesel Wrangler Aims To Boost Jeep, Chrysler Sales In Europe

Maker also introduces Europeans to new Grand Cherokee.

by on Sep.30, 2010

Jeep is betting a new 2.8-liter diesel and start/stop function will boost European demand for the Wrangler SUV.

The rare success story among Chrysler brands competing oversees, Jeep hopes to pick up momentum as it launches a line-up of new diesels, as well as the European version of its all-new Grand Cherokee.

One of the critical strategies for Chrysler, hoping to recover from last year’s bankruptcy, is to amp up its export operations.  In fact, that’s a key target for Fiat, Chrysler’s new partner, and could earn it another 5% stake in the company.  Jeep will be a critical part of the process since it already accounts for about half of Chrysler’s sales outside North America.

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Moving things ahead will count on new powertrains, as well as new product, said Jeep boss Mike Manley, during a news conference at the 2010 Paris Motor Show.

To underscore that point, the U.S. maker is adding a new and much more sophisticated diesel driveline to its 2011 Jeep Wrangler.

The 2.8-liter CRD will make 200 horsepower – and over 300 lb-ft of torque.  The good news, according to Manley, is that the added power and towing capability won’t cut into fuel economy – a big concern for drivers in a market where $6-a-gallon petrol is not uncommon.

The Wrangler will also get new Start/Stop technology – which automatically shuts the diesel off when idling, say, at a stoplight, then fires the engine back up when a motorist’s foot lifts off the throttle.  The technology – along with other improvements to the powertrain — reportedly yields a 13% increase mileage and a 14% drop in emissions.

The Wrangler with the 2.8-liter CDI will debut in Europe early in 2011.

The new diesel also will be offered on the next-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee, which is just making the leap across the Atlantic after its recent U.S. launch.

Meanwhile, Jeep also is switching to a new 2.2-liter CRD diesel for the brand’s European Compass and Patriot models.

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