2010 NAIAS: Nissan Talks New Titan, Maybe More, in 2014

2010 NAIAS: Nissan Talks New Titan, Maybe More, in 2014

Nissan is committed to replacing its Titan light-duty pickup but the next-generation truck might not arrive until 2014. If that sounds like a long time to current Titan owners, don’t fret: The wait could also mean the arrival of an all-new heavy-duty pickup truck.

Last year was a tough year for the Nissan Titan. Full year sales fell 44.1 percent from 2008 and a tentative deal with Chrysler to build the next-generation Titan on the Ram 1500 half-ton pickup platform fell through after more than a year of development. But according to Larry Dominique, vice president advanced and product planning and strategy at Nissan North America, the Titan might be hitting a turning point.

“We had a pretty good December,” Dominique said. “From a market share standpoint, in October, November and December we were up 28 percent from the year before, on a month-by-month basis. On a [market] share basis, we were up 41% for those three months.”

In the fourth quarter of 2009, the Titan sold 5,337 units compared to 4,153 in the same period in 2008. The Titan finished 2008 with a 2.11 percent share of the full-size truck market.

Dominique said improved traffic in Nissan showrooms helped increased sales of the Titan as did a new effort by Titan dealers to target loyal owners looking to replace and upgrade their Titan. New “value packaging” that bundles popular options under a single, lower price has helped limit the need for flat rate incentive spending.

Value packaging and loyalty marketing can only take the Titan so far before even loyal customers start to lose interest in an aging truck – and it’s already the oldest half-ton pickup in the segment.

“My team is working on the best overall scenario for doing the next Titan internally,” Dominique said. “Given the environment, given the economy and that Nissan’s global resources are constrained, we can’t do everything we want as fast as we want. We had a plan that was humming along with Chrysler to deliver the truck by 2011 but that deal went away. It’s a few years away. We’re looking at short term enhancements we can make until 2014.”

The Titan debuted in 2003 as a 2004 model, which could mean the current Titan’s lifecycle might extend as long as 10 to 11 years – an enormously long time for a full-size pickup.

Dominique said Nissan will continue to improve the truck using unspecified hardware from other trucks, like the Nissan Armada and upcoming Infiniti QX56. It’s highly unlikely there would be any changes to the Titan’s existing 5.6-liter V-8 powertrain before its replacement arrives.

It’s the upper body design, tougher fuel economy and stronger safety regulations that represent the greatest challenges to getting final approval to move forward with the next-gen Titan.

To get that next-generation light-duty Titan to market, Dominique and his team are going to need some heavy-duty help. As in, getting buy-in from Nissan headquarters to also approve building a heavy-duty Titan, which could arrive at Nissan dealers before the next-gen half-ton Titan begins production. The trucks would have unique frames and powertrain differences but could share other parts, like exterior and interior designs to save money on development.

“We are studying if there’s an opportunity to bring out an light commercial vehicle truck also,” Dominique said, referring to Nissan’s efforts to develop a unique LCV platform for North America. “A 2500 or a 3500 truck would give us more truck volume and help the LCV guys to grow the business. It’s not definite but it’s certainly a goal and an opportunity for us. We still need to justify that to Andy Palmer (Nissan’s senior vice president, LCV business unit), the Japan team and Carlos Ghosn (Nissan CEO).”

The starting point for the LCV platform that will underpin the upcoming NV2500 commercial van is based on a heavy-modified version of the F-Alpha frame. Dominique said it’s “80 percent revised” to give it a three-quarter-ton to one-ton work capability. To save development costs, the light-duty Titan could share its body with the heavy-duty Titan.

There are still milestones that need to be completed before Dominique can take the full package to Japan for approval. Dominique is going to have to take a package proposal to Nissan’s senior management team for both pickups in a way that makes sense to maximize market value and Nissan’s market share.

After approval, it would take another two years before the new light-duty truck would begin production. The heavy-duty truck might be able to start production sooner.

Comments

Or this is a means to drag out profit from an aging platform at the end of its lifecycle. Come 2013 it will be "we changed our mind" we're out of the big truck businness suckers!

Neg-a-tor - Good call. I wouldn't hold my breath, but it's worth noting that Nissan's timeline meshes with Toyota's supposed timeline for an HD Tundra (but, for the record, I wouldn't hold my breath on that one either).

I hope more then anything they update the Titan, it just sucks they might wait so long. I've had a Titan for a couple years, and I love the truck. Ifthey can keep the fun to drive factor and aggressize styling, while providing a more powerful engine. I'm all for it. Of course, the current 5.6 has plenty of power now...I just want more

Well at least its finally underway, I would say do some updating to the current truck to keep it viable, its really still fairly competative as is in my opinion especially with the rebates. I wouldn't feel bad buying a 2010 now nowing a new model is still several years away.

I'm glad to hear that nissan is going to continue to build its own trucks but the timeline is disapointing. my 05 has over 100000 miles and at 40000 miles a year, no way its going to make 4 more years. I gotta admit while i am loyal to nissan ive already owned 2 of the current body style and I want an upgrade.

It's good to hear that Nissan is staying in the full-sized truck business, and there is still hope for a HD version. I can say, ever since 1989, I have owned Nissan vehicles (3 prior) except for one, when I jumped ship to buy a Toyota Tundra in 02 because the Titan had not been released yet. In 06, I came back to Nissan and bought the Titan. Ever since then, I have been very happy with the truck's performance and dependability, and look forward to the future HD edition! My Titan's gonna stay in the family until it get's wrecked, stolen, or simply blows up on the road...

Refresh the exterior, use some of the technology they put into the new M56's V* that uses direct injection and puts out over 400hp and 400ftlbs of torque. Do something, anything to bring up gas mileage!!!! The mileage is what is killing the Titan. If they can brak 15-16 city and hit 20-21 highway they will be back in the game with a refersh and bumped up powerplant. For all th press the Tundra got with the 5.7L's power, it never really dominated the 5.6L Nissan has in any performance catagory, loaded or empty. The 5.6L cranks out alot of torque.

Nissan Titan make look like new Nissan Frontier. Frontier has metal fender flares , longer front end for the size of vehicle.And better grill fender design. make body lines shaper. factory metal hood scoope or recess to set the hood off . On full size titan it,ll look bolder and bigger than ever.Power train lets kick it up anotch is this to much to ask.Just trying to help out.

Nissan should make the NV1500-3500 and Titan look the same - and have them share chassis. The Titans should be low-roof NV's with bare chassis, flatbeds, or pickup beds as choices. V6 for the 1500, with 5.6 V8, and 5.6V8 DI, 5.0 V8 Cummins, 6 spd ZF (with PTO) for all of them. They should call the van Titan - beats purely alphanumeric BS. Titan van - Titan chassis cab - Titan flatbed - Titan pickup - all from 1500 - 3500. And keep refining them - a tight knit business oriented commercial vehicle unit could make strong inroads, from a contractor's point of view I see weakness in the market.

I'm all for it. Of course, the current 5.6 has plenty of power now...I just want more. Refresh the exterior, use some of the technology they put into the new M56's V* that uses direct injection and puts out over 400hp and 400ftlbs of torque. Do something, anything to bring up gas mileage!!!!

Ive owned two titans a 04 se and a 2008 pro4 x and i had no real problems with the 04 but my 08 i have had 2 front ends tear out one motor and now my transmision is knocking.....please tell me they are going to change the front end design in 2014....because this 08 is letting me down

I love my Titan. I tow a trails west 2 horse slant trailer with front dressing room tongue pull trailer. It is a heavy trailer and when it is fully loaded my truck pulls it without any trouble at all. I would like to know if it could tow a gooseneck 3 horse slant with small living quater in front. I'm patiently waiting for the heavy duty truck.

looking to change my Titan, but all I here is exhaust / Hotair. I guess its time to give up on Nissan Titans. if you sell 10 and then the next year 15, i guess you would have a huge increase. Nissan.......blah blah blah blah



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