News that a turbodiesel engine for the WK2 Grand Cherokee is rekindling hope that the JK Wrangler (or its successor) may also be made available with a diesel option. Automotive News' blog entry Will Jeep lovers blaze a new trail for diesel? updates us on Fiat/Chrysler/Jeep's plans to try offering diesel powertrains again.
Jeep has offered turbodiesel engines in the American market in the KJ Liberty and WK Grand Cherokee, managing to easily sell out of every one they produced. Demand has always been greater than supply, which has boosted the resale values of these Jeeps well above their gasoline engine counterparts. Diesels have always been a narrow niche in the United States thanks to the dirty, poor performance of the cars and trucks that introduced us to diesels. However, with the recent surge in popularity with the modern clean diesels offered in Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Porsche, and Volkswagen's cars and SUVs - and the ongoing demand for turbodiesel-powered Dodge, Chevrolet, GMC, and Ford pickups, the success of diesel Jeeps seems assured.
To quote the article:
Chrysler Group's go-anywhere brand will answer these petitions early next year when it begins selling Jeep Grand Cherokees in North America outfitted with a highly regarded 3.0-liter diesel engine currently used in Europe. . . . Make no mistake, Chrysler will use its diesel-powered Grand Cherokee next year as a test. If consumers flock to it, Chrysler will offer diesel engines on other models, including the vehicle that most cries out for diesel's many benefits -- the Jeep Wrangler. But if consumers are put off by diesel's premium price at the pump, the automaker is likely to put diesel engines in the United States back on the shelf for a few more years.The VM Motori 2.8-liter turbodiesel that is fitted into export-market Jeep Wrangler JKs does not meet American EPA standards or the more stringent CARB emissions standards that several states have adopted. Diesel conversions have been performed on JKs with limited success. Enthusiasts are clamoring for a factory-installed turbodiesel in the Jeep Wrangler. Let's hope Jeep delivers.
*** 12/05/2012 UPDATE
Ward's Auto has published an article with some additional information on Jeep's future plans, including the diesel options for the Grand Cherokee and other models.