Diesel capabilities in light trucks are being promoted at the Chicago Auto Show, where a Nissan Frontier compact pickup is displayed with a small Cummins diesel under its hood. Cummins is also showing its new 5-liter V-8 diesel destined for Nissan’s revamped Titan full-size pickup, due out this fall.

The smaller engine and truck are together called a “technical study” and trade-named Nissan Frontier Diesel Runner Powered by Cummins, the company said in a press release.

It features a “concept” 2.8-liter, inline 4-cylinder turbo diesel that produces about 200 horsepower and over 350 pounds-feet of torque. It was developed at the Cummins Technical Center in Columbus, Ind.

The concept truck and engine are there “to evaluate the viability of this package for North America,” the release said. Cummins’ ISB in Dodge Ram heavy duty pickups has been very successful in North America, and smaller diesels are common in pickups elsewhere in the world.

The custom Nissan Frontier Diesel Runner is one of two trucks specially repowered by Cummins to demonstrate the latest in diesel capabilities. The other is the Titan with the V-8.

"These trucks really highlight modern clean-diesel engine characteristics, with the durability and power that Cummins customers have come to depend on," said Dave Crompton, a company vice president and general manager, engine business.

"The Nissan Frontier is a great platform to demonstrate the potential of a Cummins-powered compact pickup for the U.S. market, and this project will help to gauge market reaction and evaluate future plans."

Meanwhile, Cummins, Johnson Matthey and Nissan have partnered on the U.S. Department of Energy’s Atlas project. The cost-shared research program is developing new diesel engine and emissions-control technology to meet future exhaust and fuel-economy requirements while retaining performance and durability, Cummins said.