The Cummins engines were developed in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy. On the agency's Web site, Cummins documents outline the preliminary specifications for the new engines. Both have overhead cams, four valves per cylinder, aluminum heads and thin-walled cast-iron blocks.
Only a few full-line automakers are known to have a need for diesels: Toyota, Nissan and the Chrysler group.
"It's not Nissan, and it's not Toyota. We're pretty confident that it is Chrysler," said Casey Selecman, a powertrain analyst with CSM Worldwide in suburban Detroit.
If Dodge is the automaker that signed with Cummins, it would be continuing a relationship that started almost 20 years ago. Cummins has been supplying diesel engines for Dodge's Ram trucks since 1989. And the agreement would replace the current contract, signed in 2003, which expires in 2010.
Cummins, of Columbus, Ind., makes the 325-hp, 5.9-liter, inline-six-cylinder engine used in the heavy-duty 2500 and 3500 versions of the Ram. That truck is getting an all-new version of the engine in January.
If Dodge does use the new diesel in the Ram 1500, it would give the Chrysler group a vehicle to compete with a new diesel version of Ford's F-150, which is expected before the end of the decade. Ford is planning to use a 4.4-liter version of a Land Rover diesel in the F-150.
Diesel plans are less clear for Toyota and Nissan.
Toyota is widely expected to get diesels from its Hino truck affiliate. But Toyota has not announced any time frame. Nissan has been negotiating with International Truck and Engine Corp., Ford's longtime supplier. Nissan spokesman Fred Standish in Nashville would not comment on potential diesel suppliers.
Land said Cummins is looking for a plant to build the engines. He said the company could buy an existing plant from an automaker or supplier. About 600 jobs will be created. Land said Indiana is on the short list of locations for the new plant.
You may e-mail Richard Truett at [email protected]