As it turns out, Nissan poached more than just an executive from Chrysler’s Ram truck brand when Fred Diaz leaped lilly pads.
Nissan’s next-generation of Titan pickup trucks will include a turbocharged 5.0-liter V8 Cummins diesel powerplant, the company announced today. Official output ratings are still unavailable, but the engine is expected to make over 300 hp and somewhere in the mid-500 lb-ft of torque range.
“We have done out homework on the next-generation Titan,” Diaz said. “Truck owners told us there’s a demand for the performance and torque of a diesel in a capable truck that doesn’t require the jump to a heavy-duty commercial pickup.”
Struggling sales and an outdated design with questionable reliability all hold the current model back. With minimal changes since its 2003 introduction, it’s easy to see why Nissan has been struggling in one of North America’s most bitterly contested segments. One-upsmanship between the Detroit 3 make it nearly impossible for less aggressively supported products to thrive.
But Nissan made a wise move by snagging Diaz, who is largely credited with steering the Ram truck brand to its current success.
“This ain’t my first rodeo,” he said at a media event in Southern California. “I know a thing of two about trucks.”
Nissan says the diesel engine is in the “latter stages of development and testing” with a version also coming for commercial vehicle customers.
More than building a competent entrant to the segment, Nissan is aiming to pull buyers away from Ford, Ram and General Motors. Part of that plan meant running extensive focus groups with current truck owners from every major brand.
Earlier this year, Ram made headlines by announcing its plan to offer a V6 diesel version of its 1500 pickup. It’s engine offers 240 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque and will be mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. That truck will be able to tow up to 9,200 lbs according to the manufacturer, which is on par with Hemi V8-pwered versions.
Nissan is still keeping key details like a release date close to the chest, but one of the biggest remaining questions will be fuel economy. Ram hasn’t held back in advertising the fuel efficiency of its heavily-geared pickups, and Nissan could suffer if it lags in fuel consumption compared to Ram’s eight-speed.
But maybe not. Previous reports suggested that the company might also be working on a smaller four-cylinder diesel. A smaller oil burner could offer a more frugal option to fuel-conscious buyers that don’t need as much braun. Unfortunately, Diaz wouldn’t discuss details.
Craig Cole contributed to this report.
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