Ford's reported decision to put its long-awaited light-duty diesel truck engine on ice for the time being could well be a result of slowing truck sales and the rising cost of diesel fuel. Indeed, the Blue Oval's pickup sales are down by about 27% compared to last year and are a far cry from what they were a few short years ago. That downward trend in sales is partly blamed on the recent rise in fuel prices, and diesel fuel has outpaced gasoline in its upward spiral. So, while diesel engines are inherently more fuel efficient than those running on gasoline, that pricing difference is usually only made up when a truck is used for heavy hauling and towing – one reason the expensive oil-burners prove so popular in the largest of trucks. Ford's not so sure any longer that drivers of its non Super-Duty trucks want or need a smaller diesel engine option. So, for now, Ford's 4.4-liter diesel V8 has been shelved.
Though not in the full-size truck segment for nearly as long, Toyota's Tundra has seen sales declines much steeper than the pickups from Ford, and the Japanese automaker has also put its diesel V8 on hold. General Motors is still on track to launch its 4.5-liter oil-burner, as is Chrysler with a Cummins-built 5.0-liter turbodiesel V8. These relatively small diesels are expected to average about 25% better fuel economy than their gasoline brethren while offering a power improvement of 10-15%. Ford believes it can offer similar performance benefits with its EcoBoost series of engines, one of which is slated for the F-Series trucks in 2010, for a smaller surcharge. We'll see.