DETROIT, Aug 20 (Reuters) - The redesigned 2015 Nissan Titan pickup will get a new Cummins V8 turbo-diesel engine, setting up a head-to-head match next year with Chrysler’s recently announced Ram 1500 EcoDiesel.
The diesel truck skirmish is ironic on several counts.
Chrysler at one time was negotiating to build a version of its full-size Ram pickup for Nissan to replace the Japanese automaker’s slow-selling Titan pickup. That deal fell through during Chrysler’s 2009 bankruptcy and subsequent acquisition by Italy’s Fiat SpA.
Earlier this year, Fred Diaz, who led Chrysler’s Ram Truck brand, jumped ship for Nissan North America, where he now heads U.S. sales and marketing for the Nissan brand.
The 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel was announced earlier this summer and is slated to go on sale late this year or early next.
Described by Chrysler as the industry’s first light-duty V6 diesel pickup, the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel features a 3.0-liter V6 turbocharged diesel from Italy’s VM Motori, a longtime supplier to Chrysler and an affiliate of the U.S. automaker’s corporate parent Fiat SpA.
Cummins, a long-time U.S. supplier of diesel engines to carmakers around the world, continues to make diesel engines for Chrysler’s heavy-duty Ram pickups. It has been a Chrysler diesel engine supplier since 1988.
Nissan declined to confirm when its next-generation Titan will go into production, but industry suppliers familiar with the company’s plans said they expect the new truck to arrive next year as a 2015 model.
The current Titan went into production in late 2003 in Canton, Mississippi. Annual sales in recent years have been just over 20,000. In comparison, the segment leader, Ford’s full-size F Series, sold 645,000 last year.
But neither Ford nor General Motors currently offers a diesel engine option in light-duty pickups.
Nissan has said the addition of more body styles and engine options on the next-generation Titan should help boost the truck’s appeal.
The automaker said prototypes of the new Titan, which was designed in California and will continue to be built in Mississippi, are undergoing engineering tests on public roads with the Cummins diesel.
The new engine is a turbocharged 5.0-liter V8 rated at more than 300 horsepower, with torque of around 550 pounds-feet, the company said. A version of the engine also will be marketed by Cummins to other commercial truck makers.
The new engine will be built near Cummins headquarters in Columbus, Indiana, in a factory that dates to the 1920s.
Cummins first announced plans for the V8 diesel in 2006, but delayed development during the industry-wide downturn in 2008-2009.