Monday 10 February 2014

Cummins/Nissan launch concept pickup truck

The US pickup truck market looks to be evolving further as Cummins and Nissan chose the Chicago Auto Show to unveil their ‘technical study’ known as the Nissan Frontier Diesel Runner.  

Following the decision by Chrysler to engine its Ram 1500 pickup truck with the VM Motori V6 diesel engine (using a compacted graphite iron (CGI) cylinder block) and the arrival of the new crown-bearing Ford F-150 pickup truck with a brand new 2.7-litre V6 gasoline engine (also with a CGI block), Cummins and Nissan have decided to cement their relationship further with the new ‘concept’ truck
At the heart of the vehicle is a ‘concept’ 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel engine developed at the Cummins Technical Centre in Columbus, Indiana. Cummins refuses to discuss specific details of the engine at this stage, claiming it "too early".

The engine produces approximately 200bhp and over 350lbft torque. This concept 2.8-litre has been mated with a Nissan Frontier Desert Runner 4x2 in a project to evaluate the viability of this package for North America.

Concept vehicles have a habit of coming to market and this one certainly looks that way too, with downsizing being the name of the game.  

Cummins has been powering pickup trucks around the world for over 25 years, with engines including the 3.9-litre, 5.9-litre and 6.7-litre turbo diesels. It has no desire to lose any market share.

The new ISX5 5-litre V8 Turbo Diesel with a CGI block destined for the next-generation Nissan Titan truck and the ISF2.8, used in markets outside the US, are the latest production engines to power the pickup truck market. 

The ISX5 marks entry of Cummins into the CGI material stakes but the arrival of the ‘concept’ 2.8-litre suggests it is also backing more traditional materials.

The custom Nissan Frontier Diesel Runner is one of two trucks specially repowered by Cummins to demonstrate the latest in diesel capabilities.

“These trucks really highlight modern clean-diesel engine characteristics, with the durability and power that Cummins customers have come to depend on,” claimed Dave Crompton, Cummins vice president and general manager – engine business. “The Nissan Frontier is a great platform to demonstrate the potential of a Cummins-powered compact pickup for the US market, and this project will help to gauge market reaction and evaluate future plans.”

Cummins and Nissan, together with emissions specialist Johnson Matthey are partners in the US Department of Energy (DOE) Atlas research project.  This US government backed programme has helped spawn the 2.8-litre-powered concept trucks and the new 5-litre V8 Turbo Diesel for the next-generation Nissan Titan truck.

This cost-shared research program has been instrumental in developing new diesel engines and the appropriate emissions-control technology to meet future emissions regulations and demanding fuel-economy requirements while delivering Cummins performance and durability.

It is through this DOE programme in particular that Cummins and Nissan have leveraged resources to cross-fertilise their technology; more importantly it has offered the Indiana engine maker a gateway to extend its relationship with the Japanese pick-up truck maker which is seeking to boost sales in North America.

In the DOE programme, Cummins engineers looked at matching the 385blft torque of the 5.6-litre 317bhp V8 gasoline engine with their ‘all-aluminium’ 2.8-litre 210bhp Atlas design based on Tier 2 Bin 2 regulation requirements.

The DOE Atlas engine block weighs 52.7kg against the 65.5kg of the baseline 2.8-litre. Dressed engine weight of the Atlas design is 164kg against 228kg for the baseline four-cylinder 2.8-litre.

It is reckoned the concept truck with its new generation four-cylinder engine will be able to increase fuel economy of a V6 powered two-wheel drive Frontier by 35 percent.

Backed by a ZF 8HP70 eight-speed automatic transmission, the 4x2 drive diesel Frontier maintains, and may even increase, the usability of a Frontier truck. Along with the fuel economy improvement, payload and towing capacity are expected to be in range of that offered by the V6-powered Frontier.

As to precise design details of the ‘concept' engine, a Cummins spokesman told this blog: "We are not talking about any of the details of the specific technology in the engine.  The purpose was to gauge consumer response to a mid-sized pickup with a Cummins diesel.  The key detail for the consumer was 35 percent better mpg than a V6 gasoline engine and not specific technology on this engine.  If this works into a production plan we will develop an engine with the right technology for this application.”  

Meanwhile, a ‘standard’ Cummins ISF2.8 engine for light-duty truck applications offers a power output range of 109 to 163PS and 280 to 360lbft torque. The IFS 2.8 was designed and developed at Cummins in Darlington, UK and is assembled by Beijing Foton Cummins Engine Co. Ltd. It has a cast iron cylinder block.

Cummins Inc. has two links with China: Beijing Foton Cummins Engine Co. Ltd., which makes the ISF2.8-litre and ISF3.8-litre engines; as well as Dongfeng Cummins Engine Co. Ltd., which makes engines of 3.9-, 5.9-, 8.3- and 8.9-litres capacity.
It is through this programme that Cummins and Nissan have been w

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