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Pickup truck fans have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of light duty diesel engines in half-ton trucks for the past several years, and it now appears that at least one automaker is about to deliver. According to a report from the all-Mopar-knowing hive mind at allpar.com, Chrysler's dealer computer system is showing new entries for a diesel-powered Ram 1500 in regular and Quad Cab configurations.

Until recently, the only market segment in the United States that had embraced diesel engines was heavy duty pickup trucks. While we were in Maryland this week to drive the 2011 General Motors HD pickup trucks powered by the revised 6.6-liter Duramax diesel V8, we took the opportunity to ask about the now-shelved 4.5-liter diesel. Like Ford and Chrysler, GM was planning to launch diesel engines in its light-duty pickups this year until the economy – and sales – went in the tank.

What's a light-duty truck, and why should we care?

2009 Chrysler PT Cruiser – Click above for high-res image gallery

For years, diesel-powered Dodge Ram pickup trucks have featured powerful inline six-cylinder engines from Cummins. By all accounts, the partnership has been successful and the Cummins diesel engines are highly regarded in the industry. Therefore, it wasn't exactly shocking to hear that the planned light duty diesel engine for the Ram 1500 pickup would be sourced from Cummins.

Earlier this year, as General Motors was slashing spending on programs in a desperate and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to stave off bankruptcy, one of the victims was the new new 4.5-liter Duramax diesel V8. The engine, which was intended to start production in early 2010 for use in GM's full-size light duty trucks, was shelved as gasoline prices dropped and sales were plummeting across the board. The program was never officially pronounced dead, merely on indefinite hold. At this point the e

Just when it looked like all hope was lost for us diesel fans when it comes to light duty vehicles in the US market, our buddy Mike Levine at Pickuptrucks.com has the scoop on a plan to revive GM's 4.5-liter DuraMax. Several months back, Ford shelved plans to build a 4.4-liter diesel of its own design for the F-150 and more recently General Motors canceled its engine. The beleaguered Detroit automakers have now decided that there is still a market for such an engine even if it didn't make sense

It looks like small cars aren't the only segment where Ford has no confidence in diesel engines. When Ford announced its redesigned F150 pickup trucks early this year the company indicated that a new light duty diesel engine would join the lineup in 2010. The company even showed off the new 4.4L V8 at a dealer meeting in April of this year. It now appears that the engine won't be coming in 2010 and in fact it may never happen. Ford officials have confirmed to Mike Levine at PickupTrucks.com that

Many people in the States still make their living using good 'ole fashioned pickup trucks as their main method of transportation. For those people, the sky-high price of fuel is putting a serious dent in their profit margins, especially when that truck is used day-in and day-out to move heavy objects from one place to another. It's dirty work, but somebody's got to do it, as they say. For these gasoline-weary individuals, Ford, makers of the best-selling pickup truck in the world, is diligently