Dodge will stop using Cummins diesel engines in its Ram pickups and switch to diesels built by Mercedes-Benz in Germany.
The change should begin with the next generation of the Ram pickup, due in 2002 as a 2003 model, said Mercedes-Benz manufacturing spokesman Enrico Muller.
It is unclear which Mercedes engine will be used. Muller said a common-rail diesel injection engine might be the choice. These engines are designed for passenger vehicles and range in size from 2.0-liter to 4.0-liter.
But a manager with Dodge powertrain development in Auburn Hills, Michigan, USA, said his team has been working on packaging Mercedes' MBE-906 diesel engine in the Ram.
The MBE-906 is a 6.4-liter, six-cylinder turbodiesel. It is a heavy-duty truck engine available in DaimlerChrysler's Freightliner and Sterling brands. The MBE-906 is larger than the Cummins engine and offers between 190hp and 280hp.
Cummins Engine Co. of Columbus, Indiana, USA, began supplying engines to the former Chrysler Corp. in 1988, said spokeswoman Marya Rose. Daimler-Chrysler is Cummins' largest customer, accounting for $1.1 billion of Cummins' $6.3 billion revenue for 1998, Rose said.
Sales to DaimlerChrysler's Ram pickup line account for about $250 million annually, said David Healy, an auto industry analyst for Burnham Securities Inc. in New York.
Healy said the Dodge Ram business is important to Cummins because it diversifies the diesel maker's almost total reliance on heavy-duty engines.
'It will hurt,' Healy said, 'but it won't put them in Chapter 11 (bankruptcy).'
Cummins also sells heavy-duty diesel engines to Freightliner, owned by DaimlerChrysler.
'We are very pleased with the (current) arrangement with DaimlerChrysler. They are a great partner and we hope to continue to do business with them,' Rose said.
Cummins provides its 5.9-liter in-line turbocharged six-cylinder diesel exclusively to DaimlerChrysler in North America. A similar engine is sold to Ford Motor Co. for South America, Rose said.
Diesel engines are popular in Ram pickups. Of the 410,130 Ram pickups sold in the USA in 1998, 75,062 were equipped with Cummins diesels.
Robert Sherefkin contributed