Nissan Motor Co. (7201), which has struggled to win over U.S. buyers of large pickups, said it will offer a diesel engine in its redesigned Titan truck, a first for a Japan-based automaker.
The 5-liter, V-8 turbo diesel will be supplied by Cummins Inc. (CMI), Yokohama, Japan-based Nissan said in a statement yesterday. Details of the next Mississippi-built Titan, which hasn’t been fully revamped since its 2003 introduction, aren’t being disclosed at this time, the company 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 up to a heavy-duty commercial pickup,” Fred Diaz, vice president for North American Nissan sales and marketing, said in yesterday’s statement. “There is no question that the new Titan will turn heads.”
Nissan missed expectations a decade ago with Japan’s first pickup that appeared to match the size and power of the trucks that are a cornerstone of U.S. sales for General Motors Co. (GM), Ford Motor Co. (F) and Chrysler Group LLC. Nissan never met an initial target of selling 100,000 Titans a year, and delivered just 10,020 this year through July, a sixth the volume of Toyota Motor Corp.’s Tundra, and a fraction of the sales of Ford’s F-Series, GM’s Silverado and Chrysler’s Ram pickups.
U.S. full-size pickup sales jumped 23 percent this year through July, according to Autodata Corp., as an improving economy encourages buyers to replace their aging trucks. Large pickups account for a majority of earnings for U.S. automakers, according to Morgan Stanley.
Owners of large pickups are among the most loyal to GM, Ford and Chrysler. Nissan hired Diaz, 47, earlier this year after the executive headed Auburn Hills, Michigan-based Chrysler’s Ram brand and Mexican unit.
Diesel engines appeal to drivers who need enhanced power and towing capability, and are a common option for GM, Ford and Ram trucks. Toyota City, Japan-based Toyota, which is readying a revamped Tundra, has no plans to add a diesel powertrain at this time, said Bill Fay, the company’s group vice president for U.S. sales, in an interview in San Diego.
The diesel engines will be built at a Cummins factory in Columbus, Indiana, for installation at Nissan’s Canton, Mississippi, plant. Nissan didn’t provide investment figures or say whether additional U.S. manufacturing jobs would result from the project.
Cummins is also based in Columbus, south of Indianapolis. The company supplies a 6.7-liter turbo diesel engine for Chrysler’s Ram Heavy Duty truck. Nissan’s North American unit is based in Franklin, Tennessee.
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