In the early 1930’s, fewer than 1,000 diesel trucks were being sold in the U.S annually. At the time, the on-road diesel truck industry lacked infrastructure, but technology for diesel trucks was on the rise. So, in the mid 30’s Dodge decided to take a shot at the diesel game. Their T84 Diesel truck debuted at the New York City Motor Truck Show in 1938.
The new diesel engine put out 95 hp at 2600 rpm and 226 lbs-ft at 1,000 rpm while the T80 gasser at the time put out 100 hp at 2,800 rpm and 230 lbs-ft at 800 rpm. In addition, the diesel engine weighed 1,340 pounds, which was about 200 pounds heavier than the gasoline version.
However, diesel trucks outperformed gas when it came to fuel efficiency. To prove it, Dodge tested two 3-ton Dodge trucks over 37,000 miles. The trucks were identical except one was gas and one was diesel. In the end, the gas truck averaged only 3.74 mpg while the diesel made 5.23 mpg. This was a great selling point for diesels. Combined with the lower cost of diesel fuel at the time, diesel trucks began to increase in popularity.
Today, diesel trucks make up a significant percentage of total truck sales worldwide. Looking back, Dodge made the right decision when they rolled the dice 80 years ago. You can read more about Dodge and their diesel evolution in the May edition of Diesel World Magazine.