June 15, 2007 / 7:37 AM / 10 years ago

Nissan to ready diesel pickup in US by 2009 -paper

TOKYO, June 15 (Reuters) - Nissan Motor Co. (7201.T) is preparing a diesel-powered version of its Titan full-sized pickup truck by 2009 for the United States, with engines built by local truck and engine maker Navistar International Corp. (NAV.N), industrial daily Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun reported on Friday.

Japan's third-biggest automaker, held 44 percent by Renault SA (RENA.PA), offers no diesel vehicle now in the United States, where the fuel-efficient powertrain is used mostly on commercial vehicles including large pickup trucks.

A spokeswoman at Nissan said the company could not comment on future product plans.

Nissan launched the Titan, its first and only full-sized pickup, in 2004 hoping to carve a place in the lucrative, U.S.-dominated segment, but sales have failed to live up to expectations.

In May, Nissan sold 4,899 Titans, down 18 percent from the year before. So far this year, sales are down 15 percent at 28,668 units.

A 2008 model year Titan went on sale in April in a segment facing stiffer competition from Toyota Motor Corp.'s (7203.T) remodelled Tundra, which Japan's top carmaker has called its most important product launch to date.

Toyota has hinted that it would eventually offer a gasoline-electric hybrid version of the Tundra.

The U.S. pickup market is dominated by Ford Motor Co.'s (F.N) F-Series and General Motors Corp.'s (GM.N) Chevy Silverado, the two best-selling vehicles in the world's biggest auto market.

International Truck and Engine Corp., Navistar's principal operating company and the exclusive supplier of diesel engines to Ford's Super Duty pickups, will supply Nissan with the V8 diesel engines, the Nikkan Kogyo said.

The Titan is now powered by a 5.6-litre V8 gasoline engine.

Nissan is due to launch a diesel version of its Maxima sedan in the United States in 2010 with engines produced by Renault.

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