Japanese auto giant Nissan recently announced that the next generation Titan pickup will be available with a 5.0-litre turbo-diesel V8 engine under the hood. This news generated a great deal of buzz for the company as the engine was going to be manufactured by Cummins, a firm known for its diesel expertise and a proven track record with regards to reliability.
Unfortunately, it know sounds like the decision makers at Nissan are having second thoughts about inking the deal, and this is very unfortunate news. The current Titan is the long in the tooth and well past its best before date, and without the appeal of a diesel heart the forthcoming model may not be enough of an improvement to take on the likes of the all-new aluminum bodied Ford F-150, the RAM Ecodiesel, or even the GM twins.
Perhaps it was the news that Toyota had also done a deal with Cummins for a similar (if not the same) diesel engine that has put a wrench in the works. Toyota has huge clout due to its status as the world’s largest automaker, so I suspect that Toyota brass were asking for concessions or a sweeter arrangement with Cummins than their Nissan competitors.
Even more unfortunate for Nissan is the fact that the loss of this deal would also kill off any hopes that the new Frontier compact pick-up would roll into showrooms with its own oil-burning powerplant.
I had the opportunity to inspect and drive a rather non-descript Nissan Frontier pick-up truck this past July in Nashville, Tennessee, Nissan’s base of operations for North America. It turns out that it was an early test mule for another joint project between Nissan and Cummins.
What began life as a Frontier Crew Cab V6 was now a rolling test bed fitted with a Cummins 2.8-liter, four-cylinder diesel engine producing nearly 200 horsepower and more than 350 pounds-feet of torque. Mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox, this package is said to improve fuel efficiency by as much as 35-percent.
The engine was loud, but the engineer I spoke with informed me that no work had yet been made to reduce noise, vibration or harshness. Power was delivered with authority and the transmission seemed very well sorted. Knowing how important the mid-size pickup segment is to Nissan, a diesel-powered Frontier could be a homerun in the Canadian marketplace. Especially when you consider that Toyota was not interested in fitting a diesel unit under the hood of its segment leading Tacoma model.
Hopefully Nissan will continue to work on this deal with Cummins, as either product would bring new life to the company’s light truck division and would be sure to attract a whole new wave of Canadian consumers to the fast growing brand.