Dear Ram – You Could Have Had A Cummins
How Ram Stole The VM Motori 3.0L From GM, and How Nissan Stole the Cummins 5.0L From Chrysler-Fiat
Every once in a while I see something happen in the auto industry that makes me shake my head and wonder, but the story of Ram’s new 3.0L EcoDiesel and Nissan’s new Cummins diesel is a comedy of errors. It’s a little complicated, but the bottom line is this: Ram stole GM’s diesel, Nissan stole Ram’s diesel, and Toyota still doesn’t offer one on the Tundra. Here’s how it happened.
- VM Motori is a relatively old engine manufacturer based in Italy. They’ve been building engines since the end of the second world war, including a lot of efficient diesels for small cars.
- In 2007, GM bought half of VM Motori. Rumor has it that GM instructed VM Motori’s engineers to develop a new 2.9L diesel engine that could be used in North America…perhaps in a GM pickup truck or SUV.
- GM had a little “cash flow problem” in 2009 that you might have heard about, and again, rumor has it that GM told VM Motori to stop development on this 2.9L diesel because they didn’t have money for this sort of thing.
- In 2011, Fiat (the owner of Ram) bought the other half of VM Motori. As Fiat was going over VM Motori’s operations, they learned that there was a 2.9L diesel engine designed and essentially ready for the US market. Ram asked for some changes, and the new 3.0L Ram 1500 EcoDiesel was born.
- GM, which was still just barely alive in 2011, wasn’t able to invest in bringing their original 2.9L diesel to North America…so they lost it to Fiat (aka Ram).
That’s how Ram stole GM’s diesel…here’s how Nissan did the same thing to Ram:
- In 2006, Cummins announced that they were developing a high-performance diesel engine for a half-ton truck with an un-named partner. We learned years later that Chrysler was the un-named partner.
- If GM had a “little” cash flow problem in 2009, Chrysler had a super-mega-serious cash flow problem in 2009. In January of 2009, Chrysler told Cummins that they still wanted this new engine, but that they weren’t going to be able to buy it until 2011.
- By June of 2009, Chrysler realized that they simply couldn’t afford the new Cummins diesel at all. Chrysler canceled the deal altogether.
- Between 2009 and 2013, Cummins tried to renew their deal with Chrysler after the bankruptcy, as well as supposedly talking to Ford and GM about buying the engine. We’ve even heard that Toyota looked at using the engine Cummins designed for Chrysler, but decided against it.
- Finally, seven years after Chrysler partnered with Cummins to develop a new half-ton diesel, Nissan announced that they were going to sell the next-gen Titan with Chrysler’s Cummins diesel.
SO, just like Ram stole GM’s VM Motori diesel, Nissan stole Chyrsler’s Cummins.
The moral of these stories? Cash flow is critical in the auto industry. If you have coffers full of cash, you can afford to invest in the future. If you run out of cash, someone will steal your technology out from underneath you.
As for Toyota’s diesel, we’re hearing that:
- They have no plans for a diesel Tundra anytime soon, but
- A Cummins diesel is a possibility and
- Don’t forget that Toyota owns Hino (a commercial truck manufacturer that makes world-class diesels) and has a nice 4.5L diesel available for sale in the global Land Cruiser
So ya…still no news on that front.
Still, it’s a good story. Next time you see a diesel Ram 1500 or Nissan Titan, you’ll have something you can talk to that truck owner about (besides the awesomeness of your Tundra of course).
Filed Under: Auto News