Money Matters Pushing Nissan To Replace 5.6-Liter V-8 With HEMI V-8 Power In Next Titan
By: Mike Levine Posted: 08-27-08 10:14 PT
© 2008

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Update #2: 09-02-08 15:11 PT

Chrysler LLC chairman Jim Press has confirmed to that the next-generation Nissan Titan, based on the Dodge Ram 1500, will receive a version of Chrysler's 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 gas engine. The 380-horsepower HEMI is the most powerful engine available for the 2009 Dodge Ram 1500.

Press was the featured speaker at today's monthly Motor Press Guild meeting in Los Angeles for automotive journalists.

We asked Press if Chrysler would share its HEMI V-8 with Nissan. His response? "(Nissan) will get the same HEMI powertrain (for the Titan).

Last week, Nissan's vice president of the Nissan Technical Center North America, Bob Sump, told that it was highly likely the Titan would share Chrysler's HEMI engine instead of continuing to use the Titan's current 5.6-liter Endurance V-8. Soon after, Nissan's PR staff said a final decision had not been reached.

The Titan is expected to end production at Nissan's Canton, Miss., plant in late 2010 and start production based on the Dodge Ram platform in early 2011 at Chrysler's Saltillo, Mexico plant.

Update #1: 08-27-08 17:23 PT

In response to our story, Nissan PR Senior Manager John Schilling says that no decision has been made on the next-generation Titan's engine. It's still up in the air and when it's decided, Nissan will announce it.

When it comes to engineering the next-generation Nissan Titan, Nissan is letting Chrysler take the driver's seat.

Last May, the companies jointly announced that Chrysler would build the next iteration of Nissan's Titan half-ton pickup at Chrysler's plant in Saltillo, Mexico, and that it would be based on the all-new Dodge Ram 1500.

Chrysler and Nissan are still negotiating the production contract's final details, but a clear role has been defined for Nissan's engineers:
they'll only be responsible for defining and evaluating the Titan's performance criteria, not delivering it.

This likely means the end of the line for Nissan's 5.6-liter Endurance
V-8 in the Titan, said Bob Sump, vice president of Nissan Technical Center North America. We spoke with Sump at Nissan's 2009 full-line truck preview in Stevenson, Wash.

"Our engineering will get involved setting performance targets and evaluating whether (Chrysler) is achieving them or not, but we don't have any direct design responsibility for it," Sump said. "It will all be done by Chrysler, including the powertrain. Nissan management will evaluate the prototypes to make sure they meet requirements."

Sump was part of the current-generation Titan's original design and development team back when Nissan engineered the truck from the ground up. The 317-horsepower, 5.6-liter V-8 has been the only engine available in the Titan since the truck went on sale in 2003 as a 2004 model.

Sump says Nissan instead wants to use Chrysler's HEMI V-8 for the Titan as a matter of cost. Nissan is trying to keep costs low by outsourcing Titan production to Chrysler, he said.

"It would be a huge cost to try to put our engine in that vehicle," he said. "The idea is to stay as common as we can (with the Dodge Ram) and change the styling. The HEMI would make the most sense, assuming Chrysler will sell us the HEMI."

Sources tell us the 5.7-liter HEMI is very likely to be part of the final deal with Nissan.

"We can do whatever we want, it's just a question how much we want to pay them to do it," Sump said. "The ideal situation is not doing anything different. I think we'll need to do the evaluation to see if the HEMI meets our performance and what does it cost to do it."

The next Titan is also expected to broaden its engine lineup beyond a V-8 by offering Chrysler's 3.7-liter V-6 and sharing at least one light-duty diesel engine, from Cummins, with the Ram.

What happened to the Nissan engineers who used to work on the Titan?

Sources at Nissan say they're being moved to work on Nissan's next-generation midsize pickup or the company's new North American light commercial vehicle program, which will build commercial trucks and vans on the assembly line where the Titan is built today.

A few engineers will be left to keep track of Chrysler's efforts, though.

"We're paying real close attention to the status because we're not doing the design work," Sump said.

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