CRD Liberty - Vehicle for Change?

Date 2004/11/1 0:00:00 | Topic: Liberty

Forbes Magazine asks if the diesel Liberty will be the first of many
Forbes Magazine recently published an article about the diesel Liberty - wondering if it is going to be the first of many diesels hitting the U.S. automotive market. Here's a snippet:
As Dieter Zetsche see it, DaimlerChrysler's diesel Jeep Liberty sport utility, due next month, should be an easy sell. Drivers in the U.S. need a powerful set of wheels that can travel 500 miles between fuel-ups. "This country should be the El Dorado for diesels," says the man who runs DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler Group.

El Dorado? Try Dodge City. The diesel faces a lot of enemies. Clean-air regulations in five states, including California and New York, prevent the sale of diesel passenger vehicles. Even where they are allowed, diesel pumps at filling stations are often in distant, dirty corners. Worse still, many drivers recall the loud, sooty clunkers rushed to market during the last oil crisis, in the 1970s.

DaimlerChrysler hopes to clean up the foul image with the diesel version of its popular Jeep Liberty, the first diesel passenger vehicle sold by a U.S. carmaker in decades. It is even willing to lose money on the vehicle for now if it helps the company, a leader in Europe's diesel market, create U.S. demand.

The company is expected to promote the Jeep Liberty CRD (common rail diesel) with $17 million in marketing in the first quarter. More money and image spinning will follow. But the effort isn't aimed at the 10,000 drivers who are likely to become early adopters of this $26,000 SUV. Instead, DaimlerChrysler aims to convert diesel haters by acknowledging their gripes--sight, sound, smell. "Forget everything you remember about the diesels of old," one Internet ad reads. Text-heavy magazine ads from Omnicom ad agency BBDO Detroit will explain how small diesels work. There's even talk of creating a scratch-and-sniff magazine insert.

Also, the company for the first time plans infomercials that will run in theaters and on the Internet, as well as on TiVo, which gives users the opportunity to "learn more" about advertisers. Ads will even appear in states where diesels aren't sold. "We need to be patient, persistent and clear," says Jeffrey Bell, Jeep vice president. "We need to turn hand-raisers into ambassadors and advocates by educating them bit by bit."

Check out the entire article here.

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