Just announced: Cummins to build new turbo diesel engine for Nissan Titan

While others watch and wait, it appears that Nissan is the next pickup truck brand to embrace diesel as an alternative for a probable 2015 introduction.  While not totally unexpected, this is the first product news to trickle out of Nissan regarding a fasttrack program for pickups.

First info as to next gen Nissan Titan

First info as to next gen Nissan Titan

When Nissan hired Fred Diaz, formerly the head of Ram Trucks, away from Chrysler, it was believed that part of his role as Nissan’s divisional vice president, sales, marketing, service and parts for North America, would be to bring some much-needed new life to the company’s pickup truck operation.  There is no doubt that, during his tenure at Ram, Diaz brought energy to the brand, introducing innovation, luxury and verve to a brand that had also become dated.

Today, both Nissan and Cummins announced 5.0L V8 Turbo Diesel for light truck customers.  Announced horsepower will be more than 300 with a torque rating in the mid-500s (lb-ft) and they are reinforcing that the combination of towing capacity and mileage will be highly competitive.

Cummins TurboDiesel slated for next gen Nissan Titan

Cummins TurboDiesel slated for next gen Nissan Titan

Not much else has been released about the next generation Titan.  Nissan has said that it will offer new powertrain options and cab-and-box configurations in an obvious move to expand its market.   Diaz says, “there is no question that the new Titan will turn heads, and with the available Cummins Turbo-Diesel, we expect to win new fans and attract buyers looking for this unique configuration.”

With the Cummins engine being built at the Columbus, IN, engine plant, the truck itself scheduled for building at Nissan’s Canton, MS, and gasoline engines cast, forged and assembled in the company’s Dercherd, TN powertrain plant, this is clearly a US project.Cummins has said that they are adding 300 plant jobs to meet demand for the new engine.

The program management, engineering and testing is being done in Farmington Hills, MI and Stanfield, AZ, and the design work is being led by Nissan Design America in La Jolla, CA.

Nissan is keeping the wraps on launch dates and other information, including the design of the new truck, but they do tell us that prototype trucks with the new Cummins engine are undergoing “extensive on-public-highway performance and durability testing.”

And since we’re talking diesel pickups:

At the end of my review of the new Ram diesel pickup truck I asked readers to send me their thoughts on this growing trend.  I received a very knowledgeable comment from a reader, Casey Taylor, who said:

“The 1500 (and similar size trucks among Dodge competitors) is too large a body for the new engine.  The truck simply doesn’t need to be that big.  Twenty-five mpg is fine, but why should anyone buy that when Ford offers a similar truck that gets thirty with cheaper gasoline?  Shave off 1,000 lbs. and reduce the wind signature, though…

Trucks have ballooned in size in the last 15 years and the automakers need to shrink them back down.  The V6 EcoDiesel engine would fit nicely in the mid-size Dakota body.  Paired with full-time AWD, the4 new style would appeal to the broad segment of the population that would initially buy or return to trucks if the magic algorithm of mileage, traction, size and towing made sense to them.  Right now, it simply doesn’t.  Stateside automakers need only look and the sale and resale numbers of German diesels, particularly VW and Audi wagons, to see that there is a thirsty market to be exploited.”

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