Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Green light for Cummins CGI diesel?

Nissan has announced it will offer a newly-developed Cummins V8 turbo diesel in its next generation full-size Titan pickup.

Now in the latter stages of development and testing, the available Cummins 5-litre V8 Turbo Diesel engine has been “optimized for the next generation Titan” as a result of the partnership between Cummins and Nissan. Cummins also is developing a version of the engine for its commercial vehicle customers.

The big question everyone is asking is: “Will the new V8 diesel carry the latest in cylinder block technology, namely a vee block cast in compacted graphite iron (CGI)?

For over eight years the bar room chatter amongst North America diesel engineers is how long before Cummins follows the lead of European diesel engine makers and adopts CGI for its vee diesel blocks. Engineers know that behind the scenes Cummins engineers have been working away for years at implementing CGI technology in its diesels. It even won a US Department of Energy contract to develop and optimise high performance vee diesels.

And Cummins inc. has constructed a new engine plant that has stood ready for the green light, waiting for someone to push the button. But the “right” customer has proved most evasive.

Nissan has long been seen as the “right” customer; Chrysler has been another. Nissan, as ever, has been inscrutable, reluctant to give anything away. Equally inscrutable is a foundry which is keeping a tight lid on strategic market information. But now it looks as though Nissan’s Titan will be the first vehicle to carry a Cummins engine with a CGI block.

Of course, journalists are the last to know these things, so at the moment no one journalist can be sure. But in a parallel statement with Nissan, Cummins said: “The Cummins 5.0L V8 Turbo Diesel will be built in America's manufacturing heartland at the Columbus Engine Plant, in Columbus, Indiana, Cummins headquarters. This plant has the latest technological innovations to continue the 90-plus year tradition of building the highest quality Cummins engines.”

So, does “the latest technological innovations” equate to CGI? One can only assume at this stage that it does.

  “We have done our homework on the next-generation Titan. 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,” said Fred Diaz, divisional vice president, Nissan Sales & Marketing, Service & Parts, Nissan North America “There is no question that the new Titan will turn heads, and with the available Cummins 5.0L V8 Turbo Diesel, we expect to win new fans and attract buyers looking for this unique configuration.”

This could be another clue. The terminology CGI could be enough to turn heads. Ford uses CGI for the vee blocks of its diesels made in Chihuahua, Mexico, and Chrysler has opted for VM Motori’s vee diesels with CGI blocks in some vehicles in its Ram 1500 product line.

If, and it is a big if at this stage, Cummins and Nissan do opt for a CGI vee diesel block, then this is good news for SinterCast process control technology which has proved the pioneering technology that has enabled leading foundries to produce the finest high-strength cast iron automotive products today.

Nissan has previously announced the next-generation Titan will add powertrain options and cab-and-box configurations to broaden the appeal of the new truck when it comes to market.

“We are very excited to partner with Nissan on the introduction of the Cummins 5.0L V8 Turbo Diesel to the North American pickup truck market,” said Dave Crompton, vice president, Cummins Engine Business. “This new engine will offer the right balance of power, performance and fuel economy while delivering the dependability that customers expect of a Cummins engine. This will be a great package.”

With a torque rating in the mid-500s (lbft) and more than 300 bhp, the Cummins 5-litre V8 Turbo Diesel will provide light truck customers the combination of towing capacity and mileage that is expected in the highly-competitive North American truck marketplace.

The Titan program is being led by teams in Nissan Americas’ headquarters in Franklin, Tennessee, while engineering and testing is performed by Nissan Technical Center North America in Farmington Hills, Michigan and Stanfield, Arizona. as well as Nissan’s global engineering centre. Design is being led by Nissan Design America in La Jolla, California.

Like the current model, the next-generation Titan will be built at Nissan’s Canton, Mississippi vehicle assembly plant and its gasoline engines cast, forged and assembled at Nissan’s Decherd, Tennessee powertrain plant.

For competitive reasons, Nissan is not announcing launch dates at this stage in the truck’s development, however engineering prototype trucks powered by the Cummins engine are currently undergoing extensive on-public-highway performance and durability testing.

Further information on the upcoming Titan truck and Cummins engine will be released at a later date, said Nissan in its statement.                         

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