Learning from other people’s mistakes: will Renault really power the Alaskan with a 1.6 dCi engine?

One of the products Renault has promised for 2016 is a midsize pick-up. It will probably be named Alaskan, the same name the concept has adopted. And the most recent rumors about it say the new pick-up will use the Energy dCi 160 Twin Turbo, a 1.6 turbodiesel engine that delivers 118 kW. Volkswagen has done the same with the Amarok, only with a bigger engine: the 2.0 TDi EA288. If you have not linked the name to the disaster, the EA288 is the central piece of Dieselgate. In other words, if it did not have a cheating software, it would have a very bad performance. So much so that Volkswagen has replaced it with the 3.0 V6 TDI. What about the 1.6 dCi, a smaller engine?

Renault-Alaskan-Energy-dCi-160-Twin-Turbo

Argentina Autoblog has been the first website to bring the news. It also says the Mercedes-Benz version of the pick-up, meanwhile called X-Class, will use a 190 kW 3.0 V6. Much like Volkswagen has decided to do with the Amarok.

Is bigger better?

Renault has bigger options for the Alaskan, such as the 2.0 dCi, able to generate 131 kW, and the 2.3, which delivers 110 kW. The problem is that the are Euro5 compliant and Renault is probably trying to anticipate Euro6 regulations. The Energy dCi Twin Turbo is already used by the Master van in Europe, what gives it a good deal of testing before powering the pick-up. But running in Europe is very different from running in Latin America. Will the engine resist the tough conditions in the latter? The EA288 didn’t. There are reports of engines having to be refurbished with mere 20,000 km. Mining powder would tear down belts and cause the engine to break down.

Renault will have to be extra careful. It has no tradition in the pick-up business and it needs to get the Alaskan right. It is beautiful, but so was the Amarok. Pick-up buyers need way more than looks to be convinced. Reliability is essential. Let’s hope Renault offers it along with the low fuel consumption it intends to bring with the 1.6 dCi engine.

Gustavo Henrique Ruffo

I have been an automotive journalist since 1998 and have worked for many important Brazilian newspapers and magazines, such as the local edition of Car and Driver and Quatro Rodas, Brazilian's biggest car magazine. I have also worked for foreign websites, such as World Car Fans and won a few journalism prizes, among them three SAE Journalism Awards and the 2017 IAM RoadSmart Safety Award. I am the author of "The Traffic Cholesterol", a book about bad drivers that you can buy at Hotmart, Google Play, Amazon and Kobo.