Is Tundra getting a Cummins diesel?

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In an interview with Bloomberg‘s Matt Miller Tuesday, Toyota USA Sales CEO Kazuo Ohara discusses discuss the company’s strategy for winning the U.S. truck market.

One exciting highlight from a sidebar topic is the Supra may be making a comeback! 

Ohara clearly sees the challenge ahead: Overcoming the legacy and brand image of Chevrolet, Ford and Dodge’s Ram. 

In an interview with Edmunds, Toyota corporate manager Rick LoFaso says his company is constantly exploring ways to attract new buyers, and that could come in the form of a Cummins diesel power plant. 

LoFaso stopped well short of saying plans for a diesel Tundra are in the mill, but he also stopped well short of saying “no way.”

“The diesel engine is something that is on our evaluation list,” LoFaso told Edmunds. “Hybrid technology is something that is on our evaluation list. Either one of those alternatives could deliver some pretty good real world fuel economy.”

Wednesday, I swapped emails with Sam Butto, Toyota Division Communications, who pretty much says the same thing.

“Toyota is always studying various technologies as part of our commitment to constant improvement in its products, whether it be hybrids, fuel cells, diesels, etc… However, we have nothing to announce at this time regarding any diesels in Tundra pickup trucks.”

Things can sit on an evaluation list indefinitely, and you can study something forever, but Nissan may have re-prioritized Toyota’s list.

Last month, Nissan announced plans to push out a 5 liter Cummins-powered diesel Titan.  Nissan estimates the truck will have in excess of 300 horsepower and 500-plus foot pounds of torque. 

Those figures put the diesel Titan on par with Toyota’s 5.7 liter V8. The gas fueled Tundra has a slight horsepower edge over the diesel Titan, but gives up 100-ish foot pounds of torque. 

LoFaso may think Toyota’s challenge in the truck market is chipping away at Detroit’s stalwarts and, if they’re looking for market dominance, he’s absolutely right.

However, 100-plus year legacies aren’t easily eroded and Toyota is going to have to fight the likes of Nissan before earning a shot at America’s truck title.

Toyota makes some of the best vehicles on the road, and the Tundra is a great truck, but as the diesel segment continues to grow, Toyota needs a player in that market. And I wouldn’t be shocked to see one emerge sooner rather than later.