Is Nissan Doubling Down On The Titan?

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When you’re dealt the right cards, doubling down is a great way to win big. Nissan looks like a company ready to double down on their investment in the truck segment, but do they have the right hand? Here’s a look at Nissan’s history with the Titan and where they might be headed.

Nissan’s Titan has always struggled to sell. Looking at the sales volumes over the last few years, the Titan started out pretty strong, but has been declining fairly rapidly since 2006. It takes guts to reinvest when your truck is sitting in last place, but that’s what Nissan is preparing to do.

In response to slow sales and criticism that the Titan isn’t offered in enough different configurations, Nissan plans to expand their customer base. Nissan has said they will begin selling an HD Titan in 2014 alongside commercial vans that will be available later this year. These moves could be a great way to improve the return on investment in the Titan and Nissan’s big expensive auto plant in Tenessee, or they might be throwing good money after bad.

It’s hard to believe that Nissan has a lot of confidence in the Titan when only a couple of years ago Nissan exec Carlos Ghosn hinted he would kill the Titan, and Nissan was ready to walk away from truck development completely when they announced the 2011 Titan would essentially be a Dodge Ram (this deal fell through when Chrysler filed bankruptcy).

Which brings us the here and now. Despite terrible sales that show no signs of improving, Nissan has publicly committed to building the Titan and it’s rumored they might build a diesel version of both the heavy duty and light-duty Titan. If this decision to invest in diesel is true, it represents a major investment…but the best move might be to walk away. Here’s why:

  1. Nissan doesn’t have the loyal base of truck customers that Ford, GM, Chrysler, or even Toyota
  2. Trucks are getting more expensive to design, develop, and build
  3. Nissan doesn’t have a good track record when it comes to winning over truck customers

Of course, this is where the gambling reference comes in. New fuel economy rules essentially mean that every truck manufacturer needs to completely re-design their pickup in time for 2016. Nissan’s plan is to release their new and improved Titan in 2014, just as Toyota, GM, Chrysler, and Ford drop new, more fuel-efficient versions of their trucks. If Nissan figures out the best way to build a fuel-efficient truck, they could make big gains.

It should also be noted that the future of the Ram is a little murky. Chrysler is still in trouble, with no new products in the pipeline for next 2 years and poor sales so far in 2010. Chrysler doesn’t have the cash to make major investments in re-designing the Ram, and they can’t afford to discount an older model to keep market share. Ram sales are down 18% so far this year, while almost every other truck is up year-over-year.

If the Ram continues to decline, the Titan and Titan HD have a chance to grab market share. Perhaps that’s what Nissan is gambling on.

What do you think – is Nissan smart to double down, or should they walk away?

Filed Under: Auto News


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  1. Mickey says:

    I’m still lost in that Chrysler bought the name Titan. So how can Nissan still use it? DId Chrysler sell it back? I can’t see the HD version either. If no R&D was done how can they even pull this out without knowing what goes in? If they are gambling on the Ram not making it that’s a pretty big gamble and if it backfires could bankrupt Nissan.

  2. TXTee says:

    Scrap it and keep making Maximas…..I’m kinda happy I didn’t go with the Titan.

  3. Rich says:

    Jason…seems like the air induction pump issue has gotten bigger. Did you get a chance to check out the threads on Tundra solutions. Sorry to bring this up again but I feel other Tundra owners need to be aware of this issue. Don’t get me wrong, I think my Tundra is a great truck but like every other truck there are issues.

  4. Jeremy says:

    ?????? RANDOM COMMENT ??????

  5. Jason says:

    Mickey – Chrysler and Nissan announced a partnership to co-produce the Ram and next-gen Titan, but that partnership fell through when Chrysler filed BK and was purchased by Fiat.

    Rich – I had a conference this week, but I am researching it as I write this comment. I’ll have something ASAP.

    Jeremy – Not sure how that one slipped through – I’ve seen a few of them lately.

  6. nissan lover says:

    nissan is doing a good job in trucks. i hope they make it hd cause disel has good gas milage

  7. Don says:

    I bought my 2005 Crew Cab Titan LE brand new with only 8mi on the odometer. This is the best truck Ive ever owned, I now have almost 80,000 mi on it and its still showroom new and never had any problems other than changing out the frount brake rotors to performance rotors. Ive driven my truck from Miami FL to over the pass in Leadville CO 11,483ft in -0° blizzard conditions and done everything a full size truck can do inbetween. So with that said Nissan has done an awesome job on there full size truck I cant wait to see the 2nd generation TITAN….. (In a world that does’nt TITAN Does..)

  8. Jason says:

    Don – I like it – I can’t wait to see what they come out with either. I think it would be great if Nissan had a heavyduty truck…maybe that would encourage Toyota to do the same.

  9. Richard says:

    Given the fact this was Nissan’s 1rst generation full size pickup (versus the Tundra with is in Gen 3 or 4, and the Domestics which are far further along in generational gaps), the fact that the truck was offered in relatively very few configurations, most of which not the most contractor friendly (lacking standard cab, V6, and HD models), I’d say the truck did very well coming into the market. It added some equipment standard that the others are now trying to, if not finally offering (Fully Boxed frames, Factory Spray On Liners, Modular Bed Accessory tracks).

    You look at the graph of sales, and they only had dramatic losses during the time the financial crunch started and everyone was downsizing. I for one have started noticing companies using the titan’s for their fleets, more so than Tundra’s so far.

    Unfortunately, the titan’s current platform has aged, and is seen as outdated in the minds of potential buyers hence the slow sales recovery. If I was nissan I would’ve dropped in the revised 400hp 5.6L with a 4.0L V6 Option as a quick revision until the redesign comes out. That would at least put the Titan back on top for the standard HP/Torque levels (Option engines not included).

    The next Titan must have a standard cab with V6 Option for basic fleets, and a HD option for stronger fleets, oh yeah, and a Manual transmission for my enjoyment!

  10. Jason (Admin) says:

    Richard – I think that you’re correct about why the Titan didn’t do so well at first, and I agree that an enhanced engine would boost sales.

    I’m still not convinced, but people say Nissan will be building not only a new half-ton Titan but also an HD version with a diesel in the near future (2013/2014).

  11. fan says:

    vamos nissan carajo !!!!!!!!!
    i love nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnniiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiisssssssssssssaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Marc says:

    I bought my Titan brand new 5-07, to date 7-11 I have 102,700 miles. I worked in the Gulf and drove from south Louisiana to north Louisiana on several conditions, then started to drive from south Louisiana to west Texas and now live in west Texas working oil field. My truck has taken a major beatting on a daily basis and hasnt missed a lick. I did just change my water pump and radiater last week other than that I have had no issues. Now my truck is my work truck and is dirty as hell and a few dings but she stills roars like the beast I bought 4 years ago. I love this truck and can’t wait for a HD version to come out. I also have seen several companies go to Titan for there work trucks and I think its great. Titan has done the best as far as I can see with being so new to the market. Trust me once Nissan starts offering more options there wont be a top 3 any more for trucks people will start saying the top 4 bucause Nissan is going to start kicking a@# and wont care about taking names LOL.

  13. Jason (Admin) says:

    Marc – I know that the oil fields tear trucks up, and the fact that all you need is a water pump and a radiator after 100k is a testament to your pickup for sure.

    I think Nissan would steal some business from Ford/GM/Chrysler-Fiat if they do indeed start selling HD trucks, but I’m thinking there’s a lot of resistance to quote “foreign” trucks…even when they’re built in the USA.

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