If you, too, thought the announcement of the 2015 Nissan Titan full-size pickup truck receiving a diesel engine from Cummins was a little peculiar, you're not alone. We're right there with you.
But as we learned recently at the Nissan 360 worldwide press event in Irvine, California, that engine was originally supposed to go into a Ram pickup truck. Confirmed by both Nissan and Cummins representatives, the new 5.0-liter V-8 (pictured) with upwards of 300 horsepower and 500 lb-ft of torque designed for light-duty pickup trucks was born out of the idea that the second-generation Titan would share its platform with the Ram 1500.
Per a 2008 press release issued by Nissan: "Nissan has partnered with Cummins Inc. for the development and supply of two diesel engines, which will meet 2010 EPA and CARB emissions standards. The engines will be tailored specifically for Nissan. The engines will be manufactured in the United States."
Because of Chrysler's 2009 bankruptcy, that idea was shelved, and Nissan went back to the drawing board to develop its own full-size pickup independent of Chryser.
Chrysler would add its new 3.0-liter turbocharged EcoDiesel V-6 with 240 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque from VM Motori for the 2014 model year. That company is partially owned by Fiat S.p.A., Chrysler's majority shareholder. Chrysler representatives say that the VM Motori engine coming in-house was a consideration, but the reason they passed on the engine was more due to fuel economy.
While not yet officially EPA rated, Head of engineering at Ram Trucks, Mike Cairns, says he expects the Ram EcoDiesel to reach at least 26 mpg highway.
"Our simulations were showing 23 to 24 mpg for [the 5.0-liter engine]," Cairns told us last week at the 2014 Ram Trucks press introduction in Westlake Village, California. "We love Cummins," he continued."The 6.7-liter is by far the best in its class. But the 5.0 is not optimized well for fuel economy."
Nissan saw the bigger engine was still in development to be used in light- and medium-duty commercial vehicles.
"We were going to put it into something, and Nissan stepped up," says a Cummins representative of the new 5.0-liter engine.
We asked Nissan's Vice President of Commercial Vehicles Joe Castelli if the engine would just serve duty in the 2015 Titan or whether Nissan might put it in any other vehicles.
"It'll fit in the NV," he said. "But we're not going to do it if all we're going to see is a one or two mpg advantage (over the gas engines)." Nissan has also said that in surveys, it has found that 17 percent of pickup truck owners would consider switching loyalties if a light-duty truck were available with a V-8 diesel. The company figures that's approximately 300,000 customers per year.
Nissan says it will have further news about the 2015 Titan by the end of September, and we should see the truck early next year.