Dear Ram – You Could Have Had A Cummins

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How Ram Stole The VM Motori 3.0L From GM, and How Nissan Stole the Cummins 5.0L From Chrysler-Fiat

Ram Nissan GM diesel truck engine story

It’s a wild story, but it’s all true. Nissan stole from Ram, Ram stole from GM, and Toyota still won’t talk about a diesel Tundra.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. By June of 2009, Chrysler realized that they simply couldn’t afford the new Cummins diesel at all. Chrysler canceled the deal altogether.
  4. 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.
  5. 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:

  1. They have no plans for a diesel Tundra anytime soon, but
  2. A Cummins diesel is a possibility and
  3. 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


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  1. ALVARO says:

    Hope Toyota realise that they must build a 4.5 (Diesel TLC) Tundra light duty and a Hino powered HD Tundra.

  2. Art64 says:

    Toyota’s diesels are not clean as far as U.S. is concerned. Otherwise, it’ll be available in their vehicles here in the U.S.. Hino trucks are heavy duty trucks and their emission standards are lower or not as strict as smaller vehicles’ emission standards. So swapping a Hino engine to a Tundra is a no-go, unless Toyota makes a 3500 or 4500 equivalent Tundra.

  3. GoBig says:

    That was more entertaining than “who’s on first?”

  4. Shawn says:

    What about the small duramax that was designed by GM.
    Its out there. Truck trend wrote a article.

  5. Larry says:

    After 19 year of Toyota I moved a different direction.

    My T100 is still going strong and I gave it to a friend who needed a truck and I think he will be able to get another 5 years of service from it. It was the best set of wheel I have ever owned. I will state right here dollar for dollar the T100 was far superior to the Tundra of today.

    I moved to a 2006 Ram 2500 5.9 Cummins TD.


    The new motors are becoming too complex for what they deliver. Too much power beyond what is reasonable with technology which is not proven.

    Toyota would not give me a 6 speed manual transmission on a Tundra with their solid V6. It’s in the Tacoma but they would not sell it to me in the Tundra.

    Way to much crap on the trucks, much required by the Feds, TPS, ABS, electric widows, power door locks, electric seats, even A/C to the seats, traction control (which is totally worthless) and these are just the tip of this iceberg. Thank God not a penny was wasted on my replacement truck for radio transmitters in wheels.

    At all the dealers nothing but row after of row of leather seat, 4 door, short bed trucks with 8 tons of automatic junk needing an insurance policy to cover the inevitable repairs to come. The majority of these rigs will cruse down the highway with 1 person in them and no payload with a motor which can pull a train.

    All the new diesels have gone beyond the power which is reasonable in a 6000 pound truck. 850 foot pounds of torque, have people gone made? The exhaust system and it’s required controls are a time bomb which will create a very long list of expensive repairs down the road. Wasting fuel to burn off soot because the engine is so big it’s running cold and slow most of the time. So now it doesn’t put out soot but pumps out a few extra metric tons of C02. Somehow I find that a bit strange.

    The in-line Cummins is plain old push rod and 100 percent proven. The only engine problem to face on a 2006 Cummins 5.9 is that injectors and the injector pump which can easily be taken out by dirt in the fuel because of the 25000 PSI in the fuel rail. And, that’s 3000 dollars worth of stuff. If Toyota adds a diesel, they will be in the same boat.

    I decided the cut off was 2007. No UREA injection system (which I could live with), and most importantly no injecting fuel into the exhaust to burn off carbon. No TPS. It does have ABS but, I will be pulling the fuse on that.

    People have gone out of their minds on the quest for more power, The 5.9 I am now driving with 600 foot LB has the power to pull my house down and for some reason the big 3 are moving toward 900. Even the new Cummins V8 going in the Titan and the VMM 6 going in the Ram 1500 are overkill. This 5.9 cummins is also yielding 21 MPG highway. After installing free hubs up front I might be able to get 22 and not ware out all my gears and CV joints. How can I do better that that?

    All these trucks with a locked 4WD low need hubs so that it can be operated in low at craws speed on non-slip surfaces without binding up the drive line.

    I would think a long time about moving to one of the new diesels, I sure did. The long term costs beyond fuel may nullify any positiver reason for having one. I have talked to many local construction companies, municipal operations etc. and several have moved back to the big 6.2 Ford gas motor since diesel repair and maintenance are costing more then the fuel saving especially with diesel being .30 more a gallon and, they do not haul 30,000 pounds with their pickups. If they need to move a 25,000 pound piece of equipment they use a big 20,000 pound truck and lease it if needed.

    Good luck to the brave who buy the new FED modified diesels because it’s going to cost you way more then you think.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:


      I think you made a good decision. I know you have wrangled with this for a quite a while and the current pickup trend hasn’t been to your liking. You have always brought a great perspective to this blog.

      I’m hopeful you will continue to contribute your voice to our site.

      I also hope you have many years of good service from your Dodge 2500. It should serve you well.


      • larry says:


        This is a good site for getting current Toyota information.

        If Tundra had a few more basic work trucks I would likely have purchased Tundra. Of all the 1/2 Ton trucks, most of us here would agree Tundra is the most solid. The light truck market is being heavily altered by the Feds.

        I would agree with you that my truck requirements are in a small minority. The modern 1/2 ton truck has become a luxury device not a machine for hauling dirt and bricks.

        The Feds are doing the same with diesel. With all the requirements, diesel just doesn’t make sense. The consumer also demands that a Diesel run the same as a gas motor. Diesel is a slow burn fuel and changing the engine to make a diesel yield faster 1/4 mile times is pointless. It’s job is to run in a narrow RPM range. Need power, just add boost and fuel and it will run that way for years and years with clean fuel. It won’t change speeds and pass as it revs up to 6000 RPM.

        I have a feeling Tundra will continue to make gains agains the Big 3. Partly because they build better and because the big 3 don’t care about their customers.

  6. DieselMan says:

    Tundra gets same cummins as nissan

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