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2014 Nissan Frontier Diesel Mule [w/poll]

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  • 2014 Nissan Frontier Diesel Mule [w/poll]

Intriguing Engineering Exercise Might Portend 2019 Production Model

2014 Nissan Frontier mule with Cummins diesel engine - front three-quarter view

Vital Stats

Engine:
2.8L Turbodiesel V6
Power:
200 HP / 350 LB-FT
Transmission:
8-Speed Auto
Drivetrain:
Rear-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
4,350 LBS (est)
Towing:
7,000 LBS (est)
Seating:
2+3
MPG:
22 City / 30 HWY (est)
Base Price:
$ 30,000 (est)

Last August, Nissan shook the truck world when it officially announced plans to source a diesel option from Cummins for its long-overdue Titan replacement, its full-size pickup that’s slated to drop this January at the Detroit Auto Show. The 5.0-liter V8 turbodiesel is expected to make somewhere around 300 horsepower and north of 500 pound-feet of torque. This combination of an all-new truck with this new powerplant promises to dramatically change the competitive landscape, splitting the difference between the heavy-duty goliaths from the Detroit Three and the Ram 1500 Ecodiesel. And the intrigue moved a step further when the Frontier Diesel Runner Concept showed up at February’s Chicago Auto Show, as it displayed a growing relationship between Nissan and Cummins in a very interesting potential future product.

That concept would melt its clear acrylic hood if the engine ran too long, but this month, we got a chance to test drive a production mule, an otherwise normal Frontier with a Cummins 2.8-liter diesel four-pot under the hood and a ZF eight-speed automatic changing gears. The powertrain figures to be a direct competitor to the 2.8-liter Duramax promised for General Motors’ Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon twins, but will Nissan build it? All signs point to probably. Officially, Nissan is taking no position on the future of this program, but a concept followed by putting journalists into a test mule suggests the company is considering the option very seriously. Here’s what we gleaned from a brief drive around the posh suburbs of Nashville:

  • Before we get too deep into this Quick Spin, realize this Frontier is absolutely a mule, not a prototype. More or less cobbled together with duct tape and baling wire, it’s not meant to be representative of a finished product, or even a started product. The transmission and shifter is straight out of a Chrysler 300 and the shifter surround is cut out of a panel of plastic. The “Low Sulfur Diesel Only” sticker is, well, just stuck on. We’re looking at a “What if?” mockup.
  • The engine is essentially a tweaked version of a Chinese-built, gray-iron 2.8-liter four cylinder. With 16 valves, the obligatory turbocharger and common-rail injection, this Cummins engine is already used for on- and off-highway applications. In things like generators, small earth-moving machines and large turf-management equipment (giant lawnmowers) it carries the “QSF” label, and for cabover trucks in Asia and other on-road applications, it’s dubbed ISF. Some tunes offer as few as 49 hp, but it’ll run until the sun explodes.
  • This truck gets an intercooler up front wedged behind the grille, and combined with the base software, it develops 200 horses and a stout 350 lb-ft of torque, but this is not yet the smooth, quiet modern diesel we’ve come to expect. She’s a rough character, albeit with a caveat: There has been zero software tuning done for the Frontier mule. Smoothness in a diesel comes from precisely controlling combustion, and while the engine is capable of eight fuel-injection events per cycle, there are only two with this software. Clatter, clatter, clatter, clatter.
  • It may be loud at idle and under acceleration, but this dog offers bite to match its bark. Tons of torque and eager throttle response at times overwhelms the ZF gearbox (which also hasn’t really been tuned) and a “ka-chunk!” shift squawks the rear tires. Midway through full-throttle acceleration, the turbo’s wastegate locks closed and the engine really takes off, revving ahead quicker than the bottom of the range.
  • At cruising speed, though, this is a surprisingly smooth and easygoing engine, almost quiet even. That shouldn’t really be a surprise since tugging the weight of a truck and passengers is akin to a quarter horse pulling a little red wagon.
  • Although nobody ever confirmed the product plan before Nissan’s PR team put the clamps on its engineering staff, we were able to gather a few juicy tidbits about the program. One unnamed official let slip that engineers are targeting 2019 diesel emissions and particulate requirements for the rig, which may indicate potential production timing. Another interesting item is Cummins would consider shifting to a compacted graphite iron block with an aluminum head to cut down on weight and improve performance. Finally, Cummins prefers to build where it sells, so US domestic production for the engine would be seriously considered if a Frontier Diesel gets a green light.

Keep an eye on this space. A modernized Cummins ISF in the next-gen Frontier would offer buyers good power and fuel economy without needing a step stool to reach the seats. It all comes down to price.

Would a next-generation Nissan Frontier Cummins diesel be a success in the US?


Autoblog accepts vehicle loans from auto manufacturers with a tank of gas and sometimes insurance for the purpose of evaluation and editorial content. Like most of the auto news industry, we also sometimes accept travel, lodging and event access for vehicle drive and news coverage opportunities. Our opinions and criticism remain our own – we do not accept sponsored editorial.

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Bitcoins Affected by New York’s BitLicense May Trade at Discount

Jon Matonis (@jonmatonis) | Published on July 30, 2014 at 13:47 BST

bitcoin
With New York’s BitLicense scheme officially three months away, sophisticated traders are already devising strategies to profit from the potential arbitrage opportunities.

If implemented in the regulation’s final version, the physical address and identification requirements (Sections 200.12 and 200.15) for both sides of a transaction will dilute the inherent privacy of the overall bitcoin network.

Due to potential IP address blocking and other techniques to identify and block New York-based traders, the exchanges operating within the jurisdiction may end up ‘ring-fencing’ themselves and their customers’ bitcoin.

Of course, this was not New York’s intention, but if other parties begin to shun ‘New York’ bitcoins, then those parties that do choose to accept them may only accept them at a discount, making it costly to transfer ‘non-private’ bitcoins out of New York.

Tainted by government

Typically, we refer to a loss of essential fungibility occurring as a result of some type of positive coin validation required by the government. In this case, it would be the government-approved coins that would be tainted. Perhaps, New York could mandate complete fungibility of their exchanges’ coins through legislation, but that would imply subsidizing the exchange rate.

Arthur Hayes, CEO and co-founder of BitMEX (Bitcoin Mercantile Exchange), who has strong derivatives experience with an institutional trading background, explained:

“These regulations are going to make some savvy traders a lot of money. Because there is a premium placed on privacy, the ‘clean’ coins trading on exchanges with BitLicenses will trade at a discount to coins trading on exchanges that operate in more laissez-faire jurisdictions. Traders with the ability and risk appetite will be able to arbitrage the price differential.”

Based in Hong Kong, Hayes is launching a bitcoin futures and options exchange similar to the currency futures exchanges that sprouted up in Chicago after the 1971 collapse of Bretton Woods. Hayes recently participated on CoinSummit’s derivatives panel in London, where he said he is counting on large speculators and commercial hedgers to utilize exchange-traded futures and options as a risk management tool for bitcoin.

Jurisdictional differential

Just as WTI (West Texas Intermediate) crude oil contracts vs North Sea Brent crude oil contracts trade at a differential and Chicago wheat contracts vs Kansas City wheat contracts trade at a differential, certain jurisdictional bitcoins can trade with a differential. For now, only a single-type bitcoin futures contract will be traded on BitMEX.

Indeed, newly mined ‘virgin’ bitcoin have commanded a premium for some time now in certain circles. In 2013-14, Mt. Gox coins frequently traded at either a premium or discount to other bitcoin depending on politics and exchange liquidity.

With physical bitcoin over the counter or with person-to-person trading, Hayes describes a likely scenario:

“The best example would be citizens of New York who wish to anonymously buy Bitcoin. Buyers will need to pay an increased fee to a trader who does not possess a BitLicense. The fee will cover his or her costs of acquiring coins outside of New York, and extra profit for the trader compensating him or her for the extra risks taken.”

Bitcoin black market

Free markets solve political and structural problems to increase liquidity, and currencies are no different.

Today, one of the best examples of this is the ‘blue dollar’ exchange rate in peso-ravaged Argentina, which trades at a 60% premium to the official US dollar exchange rate with the central bank.

The BitLicense-based exchange rate may be the closest thing to an official central bank rate for bitcoin and maybe this is a conscious attempt to develop an institutional wholesale market. Ultimately, it could be a bonanza for those that find themselves with the unofficial bitcoin, just like the happy tourists to Argentina.

It’s quite possible that, at the end of the day, we will see a three-tier rate structure for bitcoin:

  1. Virgin bitcoin
  2. Free market bitcoin
  3. Tainted jurisdiction official bitcoin

Hayes added, “At the end of the day these regulations will do nothing but push more trading off exchange and make it more expensive for honest people to obtain financial privacy.”

Follow Jon Matonis on Twitter.

Bitcoin image via Shutterstock

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Please read our guidelines before submitting your request.

There’s a bias against the new – we think nothing of handing over credit cards to a restaurant waiter, just because it’s established behaviour.

Marc Barach, chief marketing officer at Jumio

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Baby’s birth puts husband-wife player-caddie pairing of ‘Team Reed’ on hiatus

Baby’s birth puts husband-wife player-caddie pairing of ‘Team Reed’ on hiatus

BETHESDA, Md. – When the idea came up for Justine Reed to caddie for her husband, Patrick, on the PGA Tour, she said he didn’t immediately agree.

There were tests involved.

It was the spring of 2012, his first full year on the tour. He and Justine, a nurse who also has a degree in health admission, had been engaged for a few months after dating about 2 1/2 years. They would be married in December.

As much as Patrick sought someone dependable that he could trust, as much as he wanted to spend more time with his fiancee, he wasn’t sure the 5-foot-1 dynamo with the long blonde hair could handle it.

So at a Monday qualifier on a humid day in Houston, he loaded up his bag and gave her a chance.

“He threw everything in the bag and tried to make it as hard as possible. I didn’t break a sweat. So he said, ‘OK,’ ” Justine said. “We weighed the bag a year and a half later. It was around 40 pounds.”

Carrying the bag wasn’t the only hurdle. Patrick had to learn whether Justine could read putts. She was a well-rounded athlete as a youth and was on the girls golf team at her high school in Baton Rouge, La., but he wanted another set of eyes on the greens.

“After about two rounds of practice I knew,” Patrick said last month before the Quicken Loans National at Congressional Country Club. “I had her read every single putt. She was giving me the reads that were the same thing I was seeing. When I thought she was wrong, I went with her reads. Ninety percent of the time at home she was correct. It came down to some clutch putts in Monday qualifiers to make it and I went with her reads and we made it. She’s definitely earned the spot.”

This week at Firestone Country Club, Patrick will compete in his first World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. He had hoped to have Justine back on the bag after she gave birth to their first child, daughter Windsor-Wells Reed, on May 22. (Justine said the name was supposed to be hers until her grandmother changed her mind the night before she was born.)

Patrick’s agent said that Justine might return at the PGA Championship Aug. 7-10, but more likely after the FedExCup playoffs. Justine will be in Akron, walking every step of the way with him in the no-cut event.

After caddying for Patrick’s 39 previous tournaments, Justine moved outside the ropes for the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions in January. Filling in is her brother, Kessler Karain.

Justine and Patrick teamed for his first tour victory at the Wyndham Championship last August, then Reed won two more times with Karain at the Humana Challenge in January and the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship in March.

“We have some work to do when I get back. He has two wins and I have one,” Justine said at Congressional.

“All I need is another win, I might be on my way,” Karain said.

The job is Justine’s for as long as she wants it, Patrick said.

“If she lets me, she’ll be on the bag until I basically retire,” Patrick said at Congressional. “We’re huge competitors. Of course we love to win, but we love to compete, we love to try to improve and get better at anything we do. She’s a huge athlete. Me, I’m just a golfer. We absolutely love it and have to see when that time is.”

Justine is 27, Patrick turns 24 on Aug. 5. While continuing until he retires might be out of the question, she’s literally in it for the long haul.

“I think he wants me to do it for a good amount of time,” she said. “We’re young. Why not?

“It’s helped along the way, the bonding aspect of it all. You go through some tough times together.”

At the Wyndham Championship, Patrick became the first PGA Tour player to win with his wife as his caddie since 1996, when Steve Stricker claimed the BMW Championship with Nicki on the bag. The victory for “Team Reed” ended an exhausting life of driving to tournaments for Monday qualifiers.

“We think about it all the time,” Justine said. “When we have a tough day out there, sometimes it’s not as tough as it used to be. It’s something we like to keep in the back of our minds at all times, how you got here in the first place. He worked extremely hard. Not every day was a good day. We went through stretches where it wasn’t good at all. But you have to keep bouncing back.

“I think we were tired for a year straight. It’s different now. Life can be easier than jumping in a car Monday qualifying every week. But it makes you strong. I think it makes for a stronger golfer when you have all those trials and tribulations.”

Patrick has made a name for himself for more than three career victories. A member of two national championship teams at Augusta State, he became the youngest player to win a World Golf Championships event in March at Doral. After his triumph, he called himself “one of the top five players in the world.”

Justine said that was not a case of success going to Patrick’s head.

“We would all bring him back to earth if he was ever like that,” she said. “You can get a different perspective of him from the media, but at the end of the day Patrick’s the same person he was when we started out. I know who he is and he knows who he is. People can love him or hate him, but at the end of the day he’s still Patrick.

“He says what’s on his mind. That may get him in trouble at some point. I kind of enjoy somebody who has a personality, who has his own perspective on life.”

  • Since Rory McIlroy won the British Open on July 20, the Claret Jug has become his minion of sorts.

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Cape Mentelle winemaker moves to Napa on quality mission

  • Wednesday 30 July 2014
  • by Danielle Costley in Margaret River

Cape Mentelle winemaker Rob Mann has left Australia to become director at Newton Vineyard in the Napa Valley as owner LVMH seeks to improve quality at the Californian estate.

The move comes only a few months after Mann disgruntled some Margaret River winemakers by threatening legal action over the usage of the Wallcliffe name on their labels.

But, Mann said his time spent at Newton in 2007 as senior winemaker helped cement his decision to leave Australia.

‘My role is to elevate Newton to the top handful of Napa producers and be recognised internationally for the quality of its Cabernet and Chardonnay,’ he told Decanter.com.

‘Recognised as an American pioneer of unfiltered wines, Newton Vineyard’s geology is very recent with young soils and a high percentage of mountain-grown fruit on steep slopes which brings with it many challenges that Margaret River, being relatively flat and geologically ancient, does not have to deal with.’

Margaret River sources claimed that Mann has been sent to Newton to fix brettanomyces issues with the reds, particularly the Cabernet.

Mann joined Cape Mentelle in 2005 after the region experienced problems with ‘brett’, and quickly implemented better hygiene practices and sterile filtration to overcome any yeast spoilage in red wines.

But, Mann said the move was more about sharing knowledge.

‘I learnt a great deal in Napa [in 2007] relating to viticultural clonal and rootstock selection, planting densities and berry sorting technology.

‘I can now bring to Newton some of the good work achieved in environmental sustainability at Cape Mentelle, having reduced energy usage by 40% and eliminated herbicides from our established vineyards.’

Mann’s previous post at Cape Mentelle has been split; French luxury goods group LVMH has promoted Cameron Murphy to estate director and Frederique Perrin, most recently the oenology and production manager at Champagne Krug, has become technical director.

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