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Jaguar Land Rover Confident About Diesel Strategy, Even as VW Scandal Continues

Jaguar Land Rover Confident About Diesel Strategy, Even as VW Scandal Continues

DETROIT – Jaguar Land Rover North America has no plans to scale back its ambitious U.S. diesel strategy, even as Volkswagen’s diesel-emissions scandal continues to rock the industry.

“We have been working on this (diesel) strategy for a couple years and we are very confident in the technology,” said Joe Eberhardt, company CEO, speaking on Wednesday at an Automotive Press Association luncheon in Detroit.

Eberhardt said the benefits of a diesel engine are fuel economy and performance.

“We will not change our strategy,” he added.

Volkswagen last month admitted it created software to skirt U.S. and California diesel emissions regulations. The company potentially faces huge fines and a massive recall of its diesel-powered cars and trucks, dating back to the 2009 model year.

In the meantime, Jaguar and Land Rover have been betting that a large number of its U.S. buyers prefer a diesel engine.

The company announced earlier this year that it plans to offer a diesel engine in nearly all of its vehicles by the end of 2017.

The lone exception is the F-Type coupe and convertible, which will only be available with a gasoline engine.

Eberhardt said it is too early to tell whether Volkswagen’s actions will hurt the industry’s diesel car and truck sales.

“We will just take it one customer at a time. It is way too soon for any conclusions,” he said.

So far, he said Land Rover diesel sales are on target.

In September, the automaker launched the diesel-powered Range Rover and the Range Rover Sport, its first diesel SUVs in the United States. The automaker sold 322 diesel vehicles, accounting for 16 percent of combined Range Rover and Range Rover Sport volume.

“We’re targeting about 15 to 20 percent share of diesels and we seem to be tracking to that number at the moment,” Eberhardt said.

Eberhardt said both diesel vehicles have been certified by the EPA. However, it is unknown if or when the EPA will conduct emissions tests of those vehicles.

Four diesel models are available for the 2016 model year: Range Rover Sport SE Td6, $67,445; Range Rover Sport HSE Td6, $72,445; Range Rover Td6, $87,445, and Range Rover HSE Td6, $94,445. All prices include $995 for destination fees. Each model is equipped with a 3.0-liter 254-horsepower turbocharged V6 engine.

Competitive models include diesel versions of the Audi Q7, BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GL.

Edmunds says: In the wake of the Volkswagen scandal, time will tell whether diesel enthusiasts maintain their enthusiasm for a non-gasoline engine.

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