Update 2: Cummins, Feds Developing Four-Cylinder Diesel for Nissan Titan

Cummins, Feds Developing Four-Cylinder Diesel for Nissan Titan
Photos by Cummins, Nissan as published by the U.S. Department of Energy

Cummins is developing a high-efficiency inline-four-cylinder diesel engine with money from the U.S. Department of Energy and in partnership with Nissan for demonstration in the Titan light-duty pickup truck. The project was announced at the DOE’s 2011 Merit Review in Washington, D.C..

Most half-ton truck makers are betting on small-displacement direct-injection gasoline engines to meet future fuel economy regulations, but Cummins expects its small displacement oil burner to get 40 percent better fuel economy over current light-duty V-8 truck engines. The Cummins average fuel economy target for this new diesel engine is 28 mpg while meeting tough U.S. Tier 2 Bin 2 emissions limits, according to the presentation.

Getting 28 mpg combined mileage could mean more than 30 mpg highway, by our estimate, which could help Nissan meet strong new EPA regulations that will raise fleet fuel efficiency standards for light trucks and SUVs to 30 mpg by 2016. The standard for passenger cars is set at 39 mpg by 2016.

Prototype Cummins four-cylinder inline diesel in a current Nissan Titan's engine bay.

Though the project started in September, Nissan and Cummins have already built a prototype version of the four-cylinder diesel and installed it in a current-generation Titan mule for drive testing. Pictures of the engine show four high-pressure fuel rails feeding the engine’s cylinders.

Four cylinders might not seem like enough to power a full-size pickup but that architecture would be ideal to meet fuel economy goals while delivering almost as much torque as some small displacement gasoline V-8s.

The engine has a 2.8-liter displacement (170 cubic inches). Initial power figures on the engine dyno have the mule test engine producing 350 pounds-feet of torque at around 1,800 rpm. A chart in the presentation shows targeted power levels to be approximately 220 horsepower and 380 pounds-feet.

The engine is a derivative of the four-cylinder ISF architecture that Cummins builds overseas, with 2.8-liter and 3.8-liter displacements, according to a Cummins spokesman. The overseas 3.8-liter is rated at 168 horsepower and 443 pounds-feet of torque.

Side profile CAD rendering of the prototype I-4. Note the EGR cooler (purple) and turbo just below it. The front of the engine is to the right.

Innovations highlighted by Cummins in their presentation include the use of high-strength steel pistons instead of conventional aluminum pistons. Steel pistons can handle high power loads with a shorter stroke, which also helps reduce the overall height of the engine for improved underhood packaging. Cummins is also studying the use of variable valve technology, according to the presentation.

To meet U.S. clean-diesel standards, the 2.8 would use diesel exhaust fluid to scrub nitrogen oxide emissions, like Ford and GM use today in their heavy-duty diesel pickups. It would also feature a so-called passive NOx storage system that would capture and hold NOx during cold starts, releasing the gas when temperatures rise to levels of max efficiency for DEF. The passive system would save fuel used today to jumpstart NOx scrubbing when the system is cold.

The total size of the Cummins light-duty clean diesel project is a $30 million effort, with the DOE contributing $15 million. The program is scheduled to run through September 2014, the year in which we expect the next-generation Titan to debut.

Nissan has been working with Cummins for several years studying the potential for a light-duty diesel in the Titan.

The current Nissan Titan is only available with a 5.6-liter V-8 gas engine that's rated at 13/18 mpg city/highway and 15 mpg combined fuel economy.

Stay tuned for more information as it develops.


[Sources: Cummins, U.S. Department of Energy]

Update 2: May-19, 2011 10:15 pm Pacific

We originally reported that "LA-4" was the codename for the engine. That's incorrect. LA-4 refers to the EPA's Urban Dynamometer Driving Schedule, also known as "the city test." It represents city driving conditions and is used for light-duty vehicle testing.

Cummins says it plans to demonstrate the diesel in a truck chassis using the EPA's Federal Test Procedures (FTP) for emissions certification at Tier 2 Bin 5 levels – used by today's clean diesels – by December 2013 and at Tier 2 Bin 2 levels by September 2014.


LA-4 refers to EPA dyno test procedure for city driving conditions, FTP = EPA Federal Test Procedure, A/T = Aftertreatment (emissions cleaning technologies for soot, NOx, etc.)

We also heard back via e-mail from Nissan spokesman John Schilling after we called the company asking for comment.

"This isn't something we are going to discuss right now," Schilling said. "We don't discuss future product plans including Titan."


Update 1: May-19, 2011 12:05 pm Pacific

In the first version of this post, we said the Cummins I-4 diesel would meet Tier 2 Bin 5 emissions standards. Cummins says it expects to meet Tier 2 Bin 2 emissions standards with the 2.8-liter engine.

Tier 2 Bin 2 is a stricter standard than the current Tier 2 Bin 5 rules required to qualify as a "clean diesel." Tier 2 Bin 2 standards are the same for internal combustion engines regardless of fuel type (gasoline or diesel). It's equivalent to California's super-ultra-low-emission-vehicle (SULEV) standard.

We've also confirmed with a Cummins spokesman that the 2.8-liter diesel is a derivative of the 2.8 that Cummins builds overseas.


This is what we need more of. Hopefully this takes off, and the other manufacturers follow suit.

dang.. I never thought nissan would get serious with their pickups (as they are a joke in the pickup world) but now since they contributing a cummins in their, seems like it may finally be a contender.

Ford needs to offer a cummins engine as well, not just in their 650's and up but in all the fseries and 1 in a Ranger would be nice to =)

I know the story is on the engine, but being a heavier engine, I wonder if the front frame on the Nissan had to be beefed up being such a weak frame of all the full size out there.

Also, what is with our tax dollars going to help an import company?.............Put that engine in from something from Detroit.

Please don't start bashing on the federal dollars here. They are being used to fund Cummins, not Nissan.

You want American companies to be successful? Than they need to be able to sell to domestic and foreign truck makers in the U.S. and globally.

IMO, this is a brilliant move by all parties.

The horsepower is probably going to be a bit low for today's heavy half-tons (maybe 200hp?), so it wont exactly be a quick truck (nor do I expect it to be able to achieve a high towing rating under J2807). However, with so much low end torque it should be fine for the average user, and I'm sure fuel economy will be excellent.

I'm definitely interested, but I'm not getting my hopes up (as we've been promised small diesels before, just to have them canceled at the last moment).

Mike Levine,Talk about reinventing the wheel. This has 405 lbs ft of torque and 230hp from a 3 Litre diesel.
I guess they are looking at a diesel that can be built in the US.

Well, it looks like the Titan might be getting off of "life- support" if this deal goes through.

Way to go Ram, for letting this slip through your fingers. One can argue that the Ram 1500 does not need this Cummins motor, because Fiat will be using their own diesel. I am pretty sure that more people would flock to a Nissan Titan with a Cummins diesel, than they will a Ram 1500 with a Fiat diesel. Just look at how well the Ram 2500/3500s sell, because of the Cummins motor. Ram 2500/3500 sales with the HEMI Magnum are a small drop in the bucket compared to the 2500/3500 sales with the Cummins. This 4-cyl. Cummins should have been for the Ram 1500.

Fiat blew it!

@Mike Levine
"You want American companies to be successful? Than they need to be able to sell to domestic and foreign truck makers in the U.S. and globally."
That was the point of my post on the F150 and Tundra news item. US Commercial truck makers are being gradually eased out of the global market. Even US Class C Motorhome makers are now using the Sprinter chassis and the Freightliner chassis, owned by Daimler(Mercedes)

Nice to see one truck manufacturer finally testing diesel's. Now if only the American auto makers would get off their rears and do the same.

Yeah the Cummins name alone will give it a major sales increase. I think Ford may be in danger of losing that 34 year best selling streak.

@ Mike Levine,

Any news on whether or not this engine might find its way into Nissan's vans?

I'm thinking it's perfect for a commercial van application.

I wonder if Nissan will drop the Dana 44 rear axle in favor of an American Axle & Manufacturing piece? The early Titans had axle/differential problems as it was with only 380? lb.-ft. of torque.

It says they are demonstrating it in the Titan.

It doesn't say Nissan will sell it. Big difference.

@Martok: Correct. But I'll point out that Nissan is listed as a partner through 2014, when the next-gen Titan debuts.

There's also a market research study slide in the presentation deck that points to an aggressive pricing strategy for this engine. Initial price (#1) is ranked higher than fuel economy (#3) in importance.

Also, Larry Dominique, head of N.A. product planning for Nissan, has been very vocal about wanting a diesel for the Titan.

Bread crumbs...

We dont want slow trucks !!

We want powerful V-8 engines !!!

The Government is screwing us !!

Open up leases for oil drilling,thus more supply equals lower cost at the pump !!!

Sorry,I lived through the 80's with 0-60 in 30 seconds for little import trucks and 15 second 0-60 in full size trucks !!! I dont want that again !!


In Canada the Dodge RAM are the best selling Diesel trucks !!

By the way Ford wasnt the best selling truck for 34 years,GM had the best selling trucks until last year !

Sorry Mike, I ain't buying.

No manufacturer seems to be willing to stick their neck out first on the small diesel issue, Nissan included.
The US pickup market is rapidly becoming a bad/horrible joke.
Ford's new V6 is the biggest joke out there, only the owners don't realize it yet.

This one sounds a little down on power for such a heavy truck, while the long talked about GM 4.5L and Ford 4.4L diesels border on overkill. I've long thought that a 3-3.5L TDI with 225-250hp and 400-450lb-ft would be ideal for a half ton. I bet an engine that size could get 24mpg combined.

GM has the 4.5 Duramax fully developed and ready to go. If this isn't the message that tells them that they need to do it, then they haven't learned a thing. It's time to act! NOW!!! Be the first with a light duty diesel, DO NOT let an import be first to market with this!! Please at least let it be an American company that drops the LD Diesel. GM WAKE UP!

Gentlemen, remember that as lately as MY '99, the Cummins 5.9 was rated at 210 hp, 460 ft-lbs in the auto configuration, in a 1-ton dually. This little 4 or even little 6 or V6 could produce that thru higher RPM and likely achieve close to 30 mpg.

Yes, way to go FIAT, you could rock the world with those hot rod V6 or V8 Cummins. Remember from the initial testing that the V8 Cummins roasted the Hemi in a drag race (let alone towing) and got about 30-50% better fuel economy.


"Ford's new V6 is the biggest joke out there, only the owners don't realize it yet."

This statement is the biggest joke out there...No one was talking about Ford and the Ford V6 was definately not the subject of this article. If your gonna troll, Get Lost.

In my opinion the new ~300 Hp V6's that the big three have brought out are amazing even though Ford is the only manufacture to offer a pair of new V6's in their truck line-up. Im pretty sure Nissan doesnt want to loose in the "truck race" so they might just do this to gain an edge on the competition.

This engine would be great for my '94 Dakota. The 2013 Dakota replacement could use it, but no one will be using that truck for real work.

With the government wanting to push fuel economy much higher this may be a way to get that and meet the needs of a lot of truck buyers, just not me.

Tell us Robert if that diesel you used as an example can meet US emissions standards. Didn't think so. That Freightliner motor home chassis was designed by US designers. At least the Germans were smart enough to buy the best.

If the Ford V6 is such a joke Don, then why does it beat all V8s in mileage and most in power? You better keep telling all those Ford owners how bad it is since they haven't experienced that yet.

Good for Cummins and Nissan! Cummins has been working doing much work with the government but little has been implemented.

To hell with the recent artificial Hp/Tq wars. This is a great design for most half ton pickup users. Not expensive and very fuel efficient. Looks like there'll be nice spin off technology/ideas if only other manufacturers had the common sense to get off the a$$es.

Ford's EB has the answer for fan bois excited about 0-6sec times at any cost. Time for a reset to reality!!!

finally, a re-design nissan sorely needed to gain market share, and prove again they are pioneers for the 1/2 ton market (e.g. rear ext'd cab doors that open all the way, spray in bedliner, utilitrac, bedbox). now it will just be a matter of time until the big 3 start copying.

@mike, does that titan also have the hydraulic sway control system running into the shocks?? the picture is too grainy to see that level of detail.

What would be excellent is if Cummins could offer an aftermarket Diesel Upfit kit that's legal for some of the highest selling volume Light Duty Pickups, like the big 3 half tons. I'd love to have something ISF derived (3.8 liter) sitting under the hood of my 2010 F-150. If they're going to take till 2014 to test this concept out, that would give them plenty of time to build kits for the pickups that are really selling. in about that much time, I'd have money saved up to purchase a motor and swap it into my rig. With how over built the F150 is (because it was engineered to take the 4.4 liter diesel), I'd be more than happy to just repower it with an 800 lbs engine (it's only about 250 lbs more than my 5.4). I personally feel that the ecoboost is sort of a let down. Does fantastic unloaded, but once you tow, you will not get as much economy as you would with a light duty diesel. Diesels also still get far better mpg unloaded. I'd be willing to go with a 200 to 250 hp motor for my half ton if it has 400+ lbft of torque.

I think this is a great move. A pickup that can out-tow its rivals and beat them in fuel economy (a modern turbodiesel under a Titan's/Frontier's hood should do this handily) would turn the Big Three in their respective ears.


Jeep put a 3.0L turbodiesel in a Grand Cherokee. They're planning to sell in here in 2 years. It gets 30mpg highway, compared to 20mpg for the 5.7L Hemi, and is faster to 60 than the Hemi because of the massive gobs of low-end torque from the diesel.

This engine is too weak for half-tons, it would be ideal for compact and midsize PU's. Sprinter is way underpowered with it's bigger diesel (unless you don't tow anything).

@toyboxrv. Yes it would, but Nissan is more concerned about the Global market. Freightliner is the other "bookend" for Mercedes in the US RV Market, they do not use Freightliner for RV's outside the US. It will not be long before Fiat enters with its Van deriatives for the general and RV market.

My guess? That dog don't hunt. While it probably will not have any trouble getting 40% better fuel economy than a V-8, being that it's a diesel will mean that it will be very expensive and complex due to all the mandated emissions equipment and diesel fuel will continue to be more expensive than gasoline. Direct fuel injection gasoline engines, CNG/LNG, and hybrids are the future. And I won't even mention the ever growing anti-diesel public sentiment. Los Angeles threw a party earlier this year when the last diesel LAMTA bus was retired.

Some more data, as I continue to review the presentation.

A chart shows targeted power levels to be approximately 220 horsepower and 380 pounds-feet.

Highway fuel economy could be as high as 34.3 mpg.

@BigBoB, I think the US government its throwing its resources behind Cummins as this is the way to go.Convincing other manufacturers to follow suit maybe be hard. I hope for Cummins stake others do start providing small diesels and use Cummins expertise to do so.

220hp and 380lb ft will do just fine for most people but not me.

I had Ram pegged for the first truck to market with a diesel. It might turn out to be Nissan.
The US government sure is sending out mixed messages. The environmental rules on diesel engines severely weakened the market. Now they are funding Cummins.
Does the left hand know what the right hand is doing?
Government dollars build it and government dollars kill it?
Someone suggested it might be for the oversea's market.
That would be a kick in the nuts.

No mention of it meeting California (CARB) emissions namely Particulate Matter filtration. It may pass U.S. Clean-Diesel standards but without Cali on board, they're just not serious.

CARB is choking the life out of diesels and likely the reason you may never see a diesel Titans or any new 1/2 ton diesels unless you build your own . BTW, you'll be hearing funny sounding F-650/750s next year when Ford will give buyers (thankfully) a V10 gasser option at a (possibly) $10,000 discount.

Come on Chevrolet/G.M.C....beat this Nissan to the punch, with a 4.5L Duramax 1500!

@DenverMike: T2B5 is 50-state legal.

This looks like a great motor for a half-ton truck. I don't know if it will be a better overall product that a DI gas turbo like the ecoboost, but it sure is worth serious consideration.

By the way Mike, I have a tremendous amount of respect for you, but if Cummins needs our tax dollars for this research project, then there is probably a good reason why this hasn't been done for years by Cummins when they would not have gotten $15,000,000 dollars of borrowed federal money that I will have to pay back. I like Cummins. I think they make great products and I want to see a diesel half-ton, but not by borrowing money that I will have to pay back for the rest of my life.


After having lived in Europe for a while, I've been waiting for something like this to come to North America. Can't come to market quick enough. 220hp was more then most engine options in the 80's and early 90's. Not that the Canadian market has any influence, but here trucks like this would out-sell gas trucks for sure (see HD trucks and VW cars for proof).

Why would the goverment spend all that money to help develop a small diesel and then make it so hard to meet emissions?

Not even a close fan of Imports trucks, so sad to see this news, but if a high mpg engine comes out of it for all then good.

Having owned many GM half ton, over the years its getting pretty hard to be happy at the pump. Almost thought about trading it in on a Chevy Cruse Eco

I wish it was destined for the Ram! We all don't need 300-400 plus horsepower pigs on gas! For those of you that want hot rod V8's the companies still will build them. I'd rather having something with pulling power and still gets good fuel economy. And it wasn't all that long ago that 200 plus horsepower was great! So a small diesel pumping out 200 plus horsepower and 300 plus lb/ft of torque and gets 30 plus mpg works for me. It will pull most things just fine and get way better fuel economy than any V8 could hope for is a bonus! If you want more power and more pulling power then you buy what you need or want. Options are just nice to have for all of us.

This is a neat idea on the surface but from an automotive manufacturing perspective it doesn’t make much sense. When and if this ever goes to production Nissan will pay Cummins somewhere between $6000 to $10,000 for that neat little diesel engine whereas and in-house Nissan 4.6L gas probably cost less than $2000 for the internal bill of materials, which would mean Nissan’s profit margins on the Titan diesel would actually go down, way down making it a tough sell to bean counters inside the company. By the time the all of the 2010 diesel emissions garbage is added to engine the diesel powertrain will be a several thousand dollar premium over a gas powered truck on the MSRP. You have to really really really want a diesel engine or drive tens of thousands of miles a year to make any diesel pickup truck worth the cost of admission these days not to mention the hassle of owning a diesel with a DPF let alone one that requires urea too.

Everybody thinks they want a small diesel in a half-ton truck but we’ll see how many actually line up to buy them once Joe Public sees the price, which is exactly why GM, Chrysler and Ford haven’t been rushing ½ diesel trucks to market. ½ diesels will not be cheap. Where is the Mahindra small diesel truck??? Everybody knows a small diesel truck is much sweeter in theory than in reality for the US market except for Nissan as it appears. There is no value in purchasing a new a diesel pickup in the US anymore unless you are hauling/towing at full GVWR 80% of the time or drive 50,000+ miles a year….and even that is a stretch.

In my opinion, it appears Nissan is going all in Vegas style with this project. The Titan truck is a segment loser and they have nothing to lose by going a different route than the masses when in fact Nissan should just leave the full-size segment all together. On the other hand, maybe this gamble might pay off for them. Stranger things have happened.

Here is the engine this is based on.

The Titan was a class winner in 2004 and remained that way for 3 years. It has a fully boxed frame unlike all the others and doubt it needed beafing up for a little diesel engine. Also Nissan Bought the rights for the Chevy 350 Block, so essentially its a US MADE Chevy Block with Nissan's thinking ontop. The interior, fit finish and overall design of the Titan is 150000 times better than a domestic vehicle. Chevy Ford Dodge, all after 75,000 seems like they start popping and squeaking. Nissan is still new in the Full Size market yes, but looks like to me they are putting more effort forward than anything we've seen in the states. And partnering with Cummins, IMO top of the line Diesel. I wish some Genius would come up and say... Ok lets take The "dodge" Cummings Diesel, Match it up with an "CHEVY" Allison 6spd Tranny, mat all that to some DANA axles and Get Ford and Nissan to combine there sleek designs and build us a nicely fit and finished interior and Body to go around it. Ultimate Truck. Screw California and all there BS laws on emissions. Just my .02 and 1/2 cents

Finally, a manufacturer is building a trcuk the consumer wants. I'd buy it tomorrow.

@CumminsSon, Interesting the engine is only rated to EuroIV, so I wonder how it passes California's CARB?legislation.

I will buy one! I don't need tons of horsepower, I'm a contractor and just need to haul my tools this will be a perfect fit for me, screw the big three if Nissan is the first to come out with a diesel I'm in! Horsepower doesn't mean anything, I see so many HD trucks driving around with one of those dinky 3500lbs rated trailer hitches give me a break!

I would buy this today if available.
I have a boat and camper I need to tow but I don't want 13mpg the rest of the time commuting to work.

Mike Levine,
Could you do a small article with a chart showing 1/2 ton and HD trucks' power numbers from maybe 5, 10, and 20 years ago? That way you could refer back to it and include a link in many future articles you write on these new trucks and engines. I think it would do us all good to refer back to past numbers when we read articles like this to put it all into perspective.
Great article by the way. Thanks!

The GM engineers are sleeping... or lacking money!

Kudo's to both Nissan and Ford.

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