Report: Fiat Chrysler may drop diesels from car lineup

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Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will end diesel passenger car production by 2022, but not necessarily from trucks, according to a published report.

The plan, reported Sunday in the Financial Times, follows a drop in consumer demand in Europe following the fallout from the Volkswagen emissions scandal, where the German company installed software able to cheat emissions tests on millions of vehicles, as well as heightened interest from regulators.

Fiat Chrysler, which does not currently sell any diesel cars in the United States or Canada, but they are popular in Europe and Asia because they are more fuel efficient than gas engines.

The revelation does not mean Fiat Chrysler will eliminate diesels from its entire lineup. The Italian-American automaker, which is incorporated in the Netherlands and has its U.S. headquarters in Auburn Hills, is expected to continue to offer diesel options in some SUVs and trucks in the U.S., including the Jeep Wrangler and Ram 1500 pickup.

Ford and General Motors also have diesels planned for their respective lineups, including the 2019 F-150 and Chevrolet Silverado.

However, the Fiat Chrysler plans highlight the continued collapse of what has been a key fuel source in Europe. Forbes, for instance, noted that diesel sales in Germany fell in January to 33.3% of the market from 45.1% during the same month a year ago.

Diesel cars in cities

Diesel remains attractive for some uses in the U.S. because of its torque and fuel efficiency benefits even as concerns remain about its health impacts. Diesel has also been under regulatory scrutiny in the U.S., with FCA involved in negotiations with the Justice Department, which reportedly wants substantial penalties and vehicle recalls to settle allegations of emissions cheating on Ram pickups and Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs. FCA has denied intentional wrongdoing in the case.

Mike Fiske, senior analyst for global powertrain for IHS Markit, said that the end for diesel in Europe could come as early as 2035, but he had also said that “diesel for America isn’t going away.”

The Financial Times, citing unnamed sources “familiar with the strategy,” said the official unveiling of the company’s diesel announcement would be included as part of a multi-year plan to be released in June. That plan is to chart the company’s expectations for the future as it prepares for the planned retirement after this year of CEO Sergio Marchionne.

A Fiat Chrysler spokesman declined to comment on the report.