Chrysler will decide in the next six weeks whether to build a diesel Jeep Liberty (Cherokee) sport-utility for a market test in the United States, Automotive News reported, citing senior vice president of engineering technologies Bernard Robertson.

Automotive News said that, if Chrysler builds the diesel Liberty, it would be sold in the US before low-sulphur diesel fuel, which makes meeting emission rules easier, arrives in late 2006.

According to Automotive News, a Chrysler product development executive said, at the Chicago Auto Show in February, that the company was considering the diesel Liberty for the United States as a way to test the market acceptance for a diesel in something other than a heavy-duty pickup.

But, at a Chrysler press event last month, Robertson said diesels fared poorly in a recent Chrysler survey meant to determine what technology customers want, with just 6% of potential customers saying they would consider a clean diesel engine, Automotive News reported.

Speaking at the SPECIALTY EQUIPMENT MARKET ASSOCIATION show in Las Vegas last week, Robertson said the survey would not influence the Liberty decision, according to Automotive News.

Chrysler already sells diesel versions of the Liberty in overseas markets where the line is known as the Cherokee.

The diesels, especially popular in Europe, come only with manual transmission but Chrysler UK officials hinted at the launch last year that an automatic option could eventually follow.