Dodge Ram 1500 Diesel – Big Deal to Toyota?

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By now most everyone has heard that Dodge is going to release a diesel version of the Ram 1500. While this news has the potential to shake up the automotive world, is it that big of a deal to Toyota?

Dodge Ram 1500 Diesel - Big Deal?

Can the Ram 1500 diesel alter the truck market so much that Toyota will build a diesel?

For years, full-size light-duty truck buyers have been clamoring for a diesel. They point out new diesel technologies that is rated to get higher MPGs, more torque and purported to have a longer life thanks to many factors including lower RPMs. The truth though is that the diesel concerns are the same: increased equipment costs to meet EPA regulations, higher maintenance costs and lately higher diesel fuel costs.

Manufactures have long responded to questions about diesels by saying that the package upgrade is too high for the light-duty truck buyer. Essentially, they did the cost/benefit analysis and decided you wouldn’t want it. Why then would Chrysler/Fiat decide to offer a diesel? Simple: market share.

It is no big secret that Chrysler/Fiat hasn’t been the most profitable company over the last decade and they are throwing out all the stops to increase their market share. Take for example, the active grille shutters and air suspension systems. They are trying to through every gizmo and gadget out there to attract attention. The problem with these systems are about long-term durability. This is something that arguably Chrysler/Fiat isn’t concerned with. They NEED to sell trucks right now, who cares what happens to them down the road.

Most publications are hailing the Dodge Ram 1500 diesel as the spark that will ignite a whole range of light-duty diesel options. Could that happen? Sure. It would take a lot of factors to make that happen though. First, Dodge needs to find a way to offer the diesel package at a price where it isn’t outrageous. Second, diesel fuel prices would either need to hold steady or not increase that much. While, most truck buyers don’t care too much about MPGs with regards to their work trucks, Dodge needs to sell a lot of Ram pickups to buyers who want the premium packages (the big, profit makers). If only work truck buyers bought the Ram 1500 diesel, Chrysler/Fiat would be hard pressed to keep offering its product.

Where does this leave Toyota? In an interesting position actually. Yes, it seems diesel offerings are really expanding (Chevy Cruze, Jeep Cherokee, Ram 1500) and yet Toyota doesn’t seem well prepared to quickly respond as Ford or Chevy say they are. Toyota simply doesn’t have the infrastructure in the U.S. to bring a diesel engine to market quickly. Yes, they could find a way to build a smaller Hino motor or they could import their popular diesel engines used worldwide. Neither of which are quick, easy solutions.

In the end, the Dodge Ram 1500 is a litmus test of the U.S. light-duty truck market. If it takes off, you can surely expect others to respond. If it dies, then it could be another 20 years before another automaker tries to build one.

What do you think? Could a Dodge Ram 1500 sell enough units to force the competition to respond?

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  1. Mickey says:

    Personally I would go with what the CEO stated at the Chicago Auto Show. You don’t have that much need for a diesel in a Tundra and the plant is at maximum output. Yes Toyota can invest and enlarge the plant, but I beleive since the tsunami I think Toyota just wants to pay off the plant to get ahead financially then go ahead with everything.

    • Mickey,

      I agree that it still doesn’t make a lot of sense. Looking at LJC comments and in the article, the total number of sales isn’t really enough to push Toyota offer a diesel.


  2. LJC says:

    If I were Toyota, I wouldn’t be concerned. An article on PUTC states the RAM expect to sell about 10,000 diesel ram 1500 trucks a year. And I bet most of these will be for fleet sales, since that client base has better access to diesel fuel for their larger fleet trucks. Of course the ram cult feels this will change the 1/2 ton world–LOL!

    However, on the topic of diesels. Chevy’s Colorado is a different matter. An efficient 4 cyl diesel in a real crew cab with a 6 foot bed is a vehicle not to take lightly. With close to 30 MPG highway, if not more, will make the added cost justifiable–and an E-LOCKER, grrrr.

    The diesel Colorado is the truck to watch.

    • LJC,

      Agreed on the diesel Colorado. Trust us, we are keeping a close eye on that one and have been writing quite a bit about it on our sister site

      And yes, I hear your pain about the E-Locker. Have you ever considered modding a Tundra to use one?


      • LJC says:

        Yes, I am looking into options for locking the rear diff. However, any non-Toyota solution will not be integrated with the TSC system. ARB will take a few seconds or so to manually engage. An Auburn LSD will be “on” all the time. My concern with both of these is I’m do not know how they would affect the TSC system. And frankly, I wouldn’t want to find out the hard way either by having the rear diff behave in a way the TSC is not programmed for.

        GM has an eLocker that is integrated with their TSC system. This is the perfect combo for all the driving I would do. However, for rock crawling, an ARB would be the best solution. I don’t plan on rock crawling with my Tundra.

        • LJC,

          I’m no mechanic or modder (I’m a writer, :)) I’m wondering then if the issue of not working with the TSC system is related to not having the codes for the ECU. Does that sound right or is it more involved?


        • MPToy07 says:

          Hey LJC,

          There are plenty of Auburn Gear LSDs and ARB lockers being used in Tundras without any issues. While I don’t have first-hand experience with the ARB, I do with the Auburn. I’ve been running it for 3 years now in my Supercharged 5.7L with absolutely no issues whatsoever.

          As far as the Toyota VSC (Vehicle Stability Control), Auto LSD, and traction control systems go, installing a mechanical LSD can actually aid these systems in keeping control of the vehicle. The ABS/VSC/TRAC works as follows; if a wheel slips during normal driving or in Auto LSD mode, traction control steps in and either 1) cuts engine power slightly to allow that wheel to grab, or 2) applies the brake slightly to the slipping wheel. If you go into a slide, the VSC system applies ABS braking to certain wheels to straighten the vehicle out.

          That all being said; let me explain why an Auburn Gear does not change (and can potentially help) the factory systems; Because power is divided more equally between the rear wheels, there is less chance of a wheel slipping under acceleration, therefore traction control / Auto LSD doesn’t need to operate as often. During a slide, your ABS / VSC systems pulse braking power to the affected wheel(s), and monitor the wheel speed sensors to ensure that the wheel is locked then released properly – in the case that it doesn’t the ABS simply applies more force, and the Auburn will allow a certain amount of wheel slip in these situations due to the vehicle brakes overpowering the holding force of the LSD.

          Unfortunately I cannot comment on the functionality of the ARB locker, as I’ve never had the opportunity to try one out. Hope this helps!!!

    • Larry says:

      While I have been hard on Toyota and the current Tundra configuration and the diesel issue, I can’t see Toyota losing an sleep over the Colorado truck diesel or gas. The only reason I don’t buy a Tacoma is the short bed.

      I know more people then I can count who own the Tacoma trucks and they love them and for good reason. The small Toyotas own the market. Ford gave up on the Ranger and I would not be surprised to see GM give up on their small truck.

      The people I know who own Toyotas would not even look at a small Chevy.

  3. Larry says:

    I am one of the few who would select diesel first.

    But,,,, most will not. The first time a driver gets in a 3.0L diesel and puts the peddle to the floor they won’t buy it. It just won’t have the HP and acceleration capacity of a gas motor.

    Most people only care about 0-60 type numbers. Those of us who want diesels don’t care how fast they are.

    Big diesels only run efficiently at one speed and that is slow. The only way an efficient diesel can work on the road is if we constantly shift it to keep it running at that sweet spot. That’s why we need 6 or even 10 speed transmissions (5 speed trans with an electric 2 speed rear axil, the so called split shift system). A diesel locomotive runs at 1 speed only. The diesel drives a generator used to run electric motor which turn the wheels. To make more power under load more fuel is injected but, the engine does not change speed. You can’t do this with a pickup truck.

    People don’t buy Tundras because they need a truck. The Tundra and other modern 4 door trucks are the modern version of the Chevy Impala station wagon.

    The small diesel pickup market will have no effect on Tundra.

    • Larry,

      I hear what you saying. There are two types of customers: true TRUCK customers and the Chevy Impala station wagon club. Frankly, and you might not like me, but I am in the Chevy Impala station wagon club. I live in the city and don’t have much need for a true “truck.” However, I balk at the idea of owning a mini-van for my three kids. I really want a mini-van with a bed. And that is why I am fan of the CrewMax Tundra pickups with their largest in class rear leg room.

      The other problem with a mini-van is that I go to Nebraska/Wyoming quite a bit and need the 4WD with the winter weather. And for the occasional off-road driving around the family farm. Plus, with the truck, I can stow all my stuff in the bed under the tonneau cover. In a mini-van, I am mostly restricted.


      • Larry says:


        I completely understand your point.

        Here is my issue. I am looking to replace my 18 year old Toyota. The vast majority of the so called full size trucks will not hold a sheet of plywood. For some that’s a problem. The lots are filled with the kind of truck you mention. That’s fine but, it is becoming difficult to find a basic bare bones work truck. You mention traveling to Wyoming. I live in Utah and often drive up to Wyoming and Montana. I am a river runner and fly fisherman.

        I drive many miles on washboarded roads which want to shake the doors off a truck. Some are 40 miles long. I really don’t want to spend the money for a luxury type truck for these conditions. I have been on one trip out to the green river when a Jeep Cherokee got 4 flat tires in one section where the road had just been graded exposing a lot of sharp rocks.

        I have always had 2 vehicles, a plain truck and an old Subaru for daily use. Trucks are just too expensive for some use.

        I encourage others to buy what suites their needs but, the manufactures need to make cost effective work trucks also and they are getting hard to find.

        I have always tough Toyota made quality cars and trucks. The Tundra is nothing like what I expect from a working truck. Ford makes the F150 HD, it’s a contractors type truck. That’s what I want to see from Toyota but due to what I am sure is sales volume they are just ignoring that market.

        We need both.

        • Larry,

          I’m wondering how you see the base model regular cab Toyota Tundra. Toyota sees this model as the “work truck” that you envision. I haven’t tried, but it seems to hold a sheet of plywood.

          I can see your point about finding a truck to hold up. Although, every truck will get torn up on those roads. I always have to laugh when I go to Wyoming. In Denver, my vehicle is great. In Wyoming, I always feel the need to find some off-road, dune buggy model. 🙂 Not that I need it, it is just that territory.

          I’ll finish with I have driven Fords, GM Twins and Dodge Ram’s pickups in Wyoming and Nebraska. I’m not certain that any of these trucks can survive that many years without a serious maintenance plan and/or off-road package. My thought is that any truck you buy for that area, you’re going to have to consider after-market shocks and tires. There are so many dirt roads with washboards that simply aren’t seen in many other places that it has to be hard for a stock truck to last for that many years. Nowadays, there is a lot of pavement everywhere and customers want a smoother highway ride. This equation means that if you want a basic work truck that can handle the washboards, you are really looking at an off-road machine. I have been wanting to actually drive a Rock Warrior to see how it would do. Those darn washboards are like the Motorcross Whoops sections of the course!


          • Larry,

            FYI – I was just on the site and found that the off-road package comes in the SR5 DC or CrewMax. That is probably the best you are going to be able to do.

            TRD Off-Road Package includes 18-in. 5-spoke TRD Off-Road alloy wheels with P275/65R18 BFGoodrich® tires, off-road tuned suspension, Bilstein® shock absorbers, engine (standard on 4×4 models) and fuel tank skid plates, front tow hooks (standard on 4×4 models) and TRD Off-Road graphics. [OF]

            And in case you didn’t know: SR5 Package (Double Cab) includes front bucket seats with 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with power lumbar support and 4-way adjustable front passenger seat and SR5 fabric-trimmed seating surfaces, fog lights, power horizontal sliding rear window with privacy glass, under-seat storage tray, privacy glass on rear side windows, SR5 badge. Requires auto-dimming rearview mirror with integrated backup camera 7 display, compass and HomeLink® 12 universal transceiver. Integrated backup camera 7 display included in either rearview mirror or available Display Navigation 5 with Entune® 6. Replaces standard equipment column shifter with center console-gated shift lever.

            So … close to basic (work truck) with off-road package to withstand the punishment from the every day driving on washboards.

            Just a thought.


          • Larry says:


            The Tundra standard cab 4.0 V6 would be the ticket but, from what I understand it’s 2WD only.

            I live in the mountains up around 8000 feet where we get 30 feet of snow each year. I can’t get in and out with rear drive only and the roads at my home are salted from Oct until May. My T100 is now rusting out but, runs fine.

            I really pound my truck to pieces. While I do not go off road. I run a few thousand mile each year on really rough dirt which in some places get washed out. While on extended fly fishing trips I often live out of the back of my truck. At 6 foot 5 the 8 foot bed is big enough to sleep in it so I don’t need to put up a tent. That’s the main reason the Tacoma is too small. I also haul a small 250 Honda dirt bike with me so I can drive the truck and trailer to the take out and ride back up to launch ramp. We put in thousands of mile on this type of stuff. Last year I floated over 1500 miles and probably drove 5000 mile to do it. Running the main Salmon up in Idaho requires a shuttle of around 500 mile to get the truck to the take out.

            The rough dirt road conditions and salt in the high elevations really kill trucks like you mention. While it’s still difficult to take the loss of killing a 25000 dollar truck, it’s even worse to think about spending 40,000 to kill a truck.

            I have friends who are in a rocket club. Each year they have 4 days of rocket launches called hell fire and I always look forward to going along. It takes place on the Bonneville Salt Flats near Wendover, Utah. After 4 days of driving on the salt, the underside of the cars and trucks will have almost 100 pounds of salt stuck on the under side. It gets into everything. It takes a few hours to get all that salt removed. Leave it on and 1 day on the salt flats will probably take 5 years off the truck.

            Toyota should put an article about my 18 year old T100 on their web site. If I could find another truck like mine with low miles from a non snow state I would buy it in second. When the Tundra standard cab V6 starts shipping with 4WD, 6 speed manual like on the Tacoma I will buy one the first chance I can get.

          • Larry,

            First, send us the story and pics on your old T100. While we aren’t an “official” Toyota site, we would love to run a story on it.

            Secondly, on the desired truck. You, sir, have stoked my curiosity. Toyota isn’t a dumb company, so why wouldn’t they have a truck to fit your needs. Thus, I decided to do a little checking.

            The desired truck as I understand it is a Standard Cab V6, 4WD, 6-speed manual with an 8′ bed. Looking over Toyota and all other manufactures, I couldn’t find a manual transmission. Toyota offers a regular cab in both 4wd (6-speed) and 2wd (5-speed). I’m curious about the V6 requirement. Looking at the MPG numbers (which I assume the reason), I can see your reason for thinking this way.

            5.7L V8: 13/17/15
            4.0L V6: 16/20/17

            I just don’t know if Toyota sold enough of that configuration to keep it an option (4.0L V6 with 8′ bed). It seems likely that most customers wanted more power since the long bed is surely used for hauling a lot of items. I also wonder with the payload demands you have, if Toyota didn’t feel like the 4.0L V6 produced the same MPG as the 5.7L V8 when hauling your stuff. Seems to reason based on your description of your driving habits above that with the payload and high altitude (mountain) driving that you might get similar results with the 5.7L V8 running on less RPMs and fewer torque demands than what the 4.0L V6 would produce.

            Now what is really interesting about Toyota’s configurator is that I can see the truck, but I can’t build the truck. This leads me to believe that they are out of that combination and won’t be stocked until next model year – 2014. Interestingly, if you decided to go with the V8 route, you could buy it today with some factory cash back (depending on your area) and 0% APR options. That might get you down to around $27k which is what I priced the Ford, Dodge and GMC Sierra comparable trucks being around. Just a thought.

            Good discussion!

  4. GoI3ig says:

    As stated, time will tell as far as the economic wisdom of the Dodge half-ton diesel.

    Around the rest of the planet, small pickups with diesel engines are quite popular. Back in the day, Toyota had a few diesel pickups in the U.S. I actually saw more of them in Canada. (maybe that’s where they were coming from)

    I owned an Isuzu diesel pickup in the early 80s. As long as you weren’t in a hurry, it got you to your destination in a thrifty fashion. (around 30mpg)

    The cost of diesel has leapfrogged gasoline, and made the slight increase in mileage almost a mute point. I can no longer justify the thought of the extra upfront money for the benefit that a diesel half-ton would provide.

  5. Mason says:

    Ford will probably blow Ram and Chevy a new a-hole when the Atlas production version comes out. Toyota itself isn’t in any crosshairs, but Toyota should surprise the game with a diesel-hybrid 8-speed.

  6. Mason says:

    You know it’s funny GM has just as much right to use the exact same 3.0L diesel in the Ram and Grand Cherokee. VM Motori who makes the engine is 50% owned by GM and 50% owned by Fiat. In fact the Chevy Cruze equivalent in Australia (Holden Cruze) used a 2.0L VM Motori until it was replaced by the GM-engineered 2.0L diesel, which will now be sold in North America. The VM 2L produced less HP and torque than the GM diesel, and only achieved the U.S. equivalent of 37 mpg highway; compared to 46 highway with the GM 2L.

  7. […] of towing capacity.  It also isn’t so bad that it has a diesel engine that could be seen as a “game changer” in the full-size truck […]

  8. […] low-end torque – thanks to partly the way diesel fuel burns. It is being billed as a “game changer” in the full-size truck […]

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