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Nissan and Chrysler to Tie-up for Next Titan?

Lowering costs may make brothers out of the Dodge Ram and Nissan Titan

Slowing sales and a continuous drive to improve manufacturing efficiencies and lower costs may push Chrysler and Nissan into a joint manufacturing partnership that sees the next Nissan Titan sharing underbody components with the 2009 Dodge Ram.

Through November Nissan had sold almost 61,000 Titans in the U.S. - about a third of the sales volume of the new Tundra.

Newsweek magazine quoted Nissan’s CEO, Carlos Ghosn, saying he has considered axing the Titan all together, but with sales numbers that high and Chrysler’s parent company, Cerberus, hungry for financial returns, it’s conceivable that Chrysler could make a viable pitch for shared manufacturing to Nissan. Nissan could also gain quick access to a diesel engine partner through a relationship with Chrysler. Cummins is going to supply light duty diesel V8s for the Dodge Ram and Nissan North America VP of product strategy, Larry Dominique, recently said the company is no longer considering a Navistar diesel for the Titan.

This is one story we’ll continue to follow closely throughout 2008.

Catching Glimpses of the 2009 Ford F-150 and 2009 Dodge Ram

Fans of Ford and Dodge trucks won't have to wait much longer to find out what’s under all the cammo

Next to debating how the latest production pickups stack up against current trucks, the second most favorite pastime of truck enthusiasts is talking about which rigs are just around the corner. That meant plenty of chatter and speculation throughout 2007 about the future 2009 Ford F-150 and 2009 Dodge Ram.

The next generation Ford F-150 and Dodge Ram are both scheduled to debut in January at the 2008 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. But spy photographers have already caught the F-150 almost fully uncovered on its way back from a photo shoot and Chrysler created its own worst case scenario when a full frontal shot of an uncloaked Ram (see picture at top) was accidentally released by a Chrysler staffer on a Mopar accessories website.

Online rumors and speculation points to moderate underbody and mechanical changes for the Ford F-150 while the Dodge Ram is expected to receive several innovative and non-traditional new features, including reports of a coil sprung rear axle and side saddle storage boxes in the sides of the bed.

Ford’s New Diesels Recalled for Fire Risk

A new diesel engine and low temperatures create a hot safety concern for Ford

Shortly after Ford introduced its revised 2008 Super Duty, more than 37,000 F-250, F-350, and F-450 pickups with 6.4-liter Power Stroke diesel V8s were voluntarily recalled after reports and a video documented three cases of flames shooting out the tailpipes, like a blow torch.

The problem didn't help Ford’s strained relationship with engine supplier Navistar. Within days of the recall announcement a video of one of the trucks spitting fire surfaced on YouTube, giving the world a dramatic look at how serious the safety risk was.

The cause of the problem was traced to uncontrolled amounts of diesel fuel leaking into the diesel particulate filter, where high temperatures in the soot trap ignited the fluid. Super cold starts (in temperatures as low as minus 30-degrees-F) had cracked turbo seals in two of the trucks. The third had a temporary obstruction in a fuel injector.

Ford’s solution was a software patch for the Power Stroke’s engine control module. The patch doesn't fix the root cause of the leaks. Instead, it shuts fuel and air flow to the motor when it senses that temperatures have climbed too high in the DPF. If the truck is in motion during a DPF ‘thermal event’, a console message alerts the driver to pull over immediately while the engine powers down and the DPF cools off. Once the DPF has cooled, the truck can be restarted and driven to a Ford dealer for service.

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