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Chrysler now expects about 20 percent of Ram 1500s will be sold with the EcoDiesel engine for the 2015 model year.

Chrysler is ramping up production of the EcoDiesel engine for the Ram 1500, as consumer demand has far outstripped availability. Chrysler now expects about 20 percent of Ram 1500s will be sold with the EcoDiesel engine for the 2015 model year.

That's double the original estimates.

Chrysler figured only 10 percent of buyers would opt for the oil-burner when it launched earlier this year. Then more than 8,000 orders poured in during the first three days the engine was available, which filled the initial allocation.

"The demand is there for this product, and customers have asked for it," said Bob Hegbloom, CEO of the Ram truck brand.

Recognizing the pent-up demand has allowed the Ram EcoDiesel to take off, filling a void in the marketplace, said Dave Sullivan, manager of product analysis for automotive research firm, AutoPacific.

"The Ram diesel is a sales success and actually a very refined powertrain," he said in an email. "It isn't some Frankenstein oddball engine. It feels like it was plucked out of the Audi A8. It's quiet, torquey, efficient and doesn't necessarily break the bank. The price walk from the Hemi V8 to the diesel is actually reasonable."
2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel

The EcoDiesel is a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 rated at 240 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. With this engine, the Ram 1500 can tow up to 9,200 pounds, yet it's still capable of achieving 28 miles per gallon on the highway. It carries a starting sticker price of $36,475. The engine is sourced through Fiat's VM Motori venture, and the production increases will be online at both Ram factories, in Warren, MI, and Saltillo, Mexico, by the end of November.

Plus, the engine drives smoothly and returns real-world fuel economy that's often better than the EPA label, Sullivan noted.

"With the eight-speed transmission, it offers a level of refinement that would feel at home on the autobahn," he said. "If Audi were to make a pickup truck, this would be the one to benchmark."

Chrysler is the only company to offer a diesel engine in a light-duty pickup, and Detroit's truck makers have used different tactics to expand their lineups as they attempt to attract new customers. While Ram has gone the diesel route, General Motors has added slightly smaller pickups, the GMC Canyon and Chevrolet Colorado, to slot below its fullsize models. Ford, meanwhile, has turned to aluminum to drop weight and increase full economy for the 2015 F-150.

Other News and Views

Ducati ScramblerDucati brings back the Scrambler

Let's get things straight: even though Ducati is reprising the "Scrambler" name from its archives, this isn't just a retro motorcycle. Rather, Ducati says this simple yet high-tech bike is what the 1970s Scrambler would have morphed into had it continued, though to the everlasting chagrin of some enthusiasts, it didn't.

The reborn Scrambler, unveiled at this week's Paris Motor Show, gets contemporary features like LED lights and LCD instruments, and throwback elements like a teardrop-shaped fuel tank with brushed aluminum covers that can be interchanged to the driver's taste. The Scrambler will be sold in four models: Icon, Urban Enduro, Full Throttle and Classic. It runs on an L-twin two-valve 803cc engine, that's a derivative of the Monster 796 engine. Ducatti calls all of this "post-heritage." We're just happy it's reality.

2015 Ford Mustang 50th Anniversary EditionFirst Hellcat, Mustang score big bucks for charity at auction

Detroit muscle fetched top dollars for charities on the Strip in late September. The first 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat – that's VIN 0001 – went for $825,000 to NASCAR and auto dealership kingpin Rick Hendrick. The bid was matched by the Las Vegas-based Engelstad Family Foundation, resulting in a $1.65-million donation to Opportunity Village, a not-for-profit organization that helps people with intellectual disabilities in the Las Vegas area.

Meanwhile, at the same auction, the last of a run of commemorative 2015 Ford Mustangs earned $170,000, with the winning bid going to enthusiast Jack Fairchild, who takes home the 1,964th copy of the "50 Years Limited Edition" Mustang. The proceeds go to the Edith and Benson Ford Heart & Vascular Institute, a branch of the Michigan-based Henry Ford Health System.

2016 Jaguar XEJaguar XE bows again, US features come into focus

We've already seen the Jaguar XE debut in early September, but it's having an auto show coming-out party in Paris, where the world's press, and then consumers, will get their up-close looks. While more is known about the international model, which will go on sale in 2015, less has been confirmed for the US market, as the XE doesn't arrive until 2016 as a 2017 model.

We know it will have the supercharged 3.0-liter V6, which is used in other Jaguars, including the F-Type. The US market will also get a four-cylinder diesel engine, part of Jaguar's new Ingenium engine family, a spokesman said, and a possibly a manual transmission option, though not at launch. We'll also get a four-cylinder gasoline engine, though specs aren't known, as well as optional all-wheel drive.


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