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No diesel for Wrangler - not yet, Jeep CEO says


Jeep brand CEO Michael Manley, shown in a Wrangler Islander, says there are no plans to offer the Wrangler with a diesel engine in North America. But he added he has learned 'to never say never.'

The Blade/Andy Morrison
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DETROIT - The Jeep Wrangler won't get a diesel engine in North America in 2011, as Chrysler Group LLC had implied when it laid out its five-year business plan on Nov. 4. At least not yet.

Instead, Wranglers in North America will likely receive Chrysler's new Pentastar V6 engine when its powertrain is refreshed next summer. All Jeep Wranglers are built at the Toledo Jeep Assembly complex.

Jeep enthusiasts were excited to learn last year that the original SUV would receive a diesel variant in North America. Though diesel fuel costs more, diesel engines offer greater fuel economy and greater torque, important for off-roading enthusiasts.

"We have no plans at the moment for diesel Jeeps in North America, although one of the things I've learned in this business is to never say never," said Michael Manley, president and chief executive officer of the Jeep brand. "I wouldn't rule it out, but specifically on Nov. 4, we were commenting on diesel in Europe."

Mr. Manley said Chrysler intends to keep the "Jeep DNA" in Jeep vehicles so as to guard the reputation of the Wrangler.

"This vehicle is really the icon of the brand. It's the first vehicle that comes into everybody's mind, and it has huge, huge importance to us," he said. "What we really want to do with it is to make sure it stays the icon of the brand, and I think for us, when we listen to our customers, we get a range of feedback" asking for improved powertrain and more refinement.

Mr. Manley said that the automaker intends to continue with a series of limited-production special editions of the Wrangler during 2010, following up on the Islander and Mountain editions of the vehicle that Chrysler rolled out for this year's North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The special editions, along with interior improvements to be introduced this summer and powertrain improvements slated for next year, are to help grow sales of the vehicle.

It celebrates the 70th anniversary of its design this summer.

- Larry P. Vellequette

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