2010 NAIAS: Nissan Wants to Take Small Trucks Back In Time

2010 NAIAS: Nissan Wants to Take Small Trucks Back In Time

Nissan is going back to the future, embracing the “basics” of the compact truck segment, with plans to create an inexpensive, functional small truck when the current Frontier midsize pickup is replaced within several years.

For more than a decade, the mid-size truck segment has been shrinking as buyers shifted into full-size pickups that didn’t cost much more than the smaller ones. Larry Dominique, vice president advanced and product planning and strategy at Nissan North America, says the next Frontier is going back to what made small trucks popular in the first place.

“What we want to do with the compact truck market is go back to the basics of what it used to be,” Dominique said. “If you talk to the compact truck buyers, it’s not why they originally bought these things. They wanted a cheap, get-me-done truck and that doesn’t exist. If you go outside this country, we sell our old small trucks in high volumes because people want a cheap truck with a one-ton payload. We think if we can get that equation back in line -- and that’s a big if – we think there’s clearly a market opportunity.“

In addition to lowering the price, Nissan’s next small truck could shrink in size and lose some horsepower in pursuit of higher fuel economy.

“It wouldn’t be as small as our old Hardbody pickups,” Dominique said. “People like the space of the crew cab. But can the vehicle be three inches narrower than today? Can it shrink the second row by an inch and the front row by an inch and still satisfy customers? But I want to get better fuel economy and I want a lower price point. I don’t think we need 265 horsepower. The customer isn’t telling us they need all of that capacity. We need to work to define what we need to deliver to the customer.”

One thing that won’t change: Dominique said he wants the next Frontier to remain body-on-frame. There are too many compromises in capability using a unibody platform.


I loved my 1979 Datsun pick-up. How about a new small Nissan with an efficient 4 cyl. engine? My 2006 Frontier is great, but I like small.

I hope a true compact size truck is around the corner. My 93' hardbody is getting old and has 294k original miles. Money well spent at the time. These trucks are for the single, student, working man/woman who want something inexpensive, good mileage, and something to haul around now and then; not to haul the family around on vacation. The current truck is great but carries the price of a larger truck. Nissan, please use some lasting material on the interior.

Nissan!!! You finally figured it out. I bought a 1972 Datsun pickup. It was built on railroad tracks and was rated 7/10 of a ton as is. I put an overload spring on it. an 18 inch bumper extension of real steel and rounded it off with a full size 8 foot over cab Drifter Camper. It's 97 horses got a real workout, but I had it for 10 years and loved it. 20 miles to the gallon carrying the Camper fully loaded with wife and 2 kids. Most fun I had in my life. We went everywhere from desert to Denver, Colorado. Only time it ever died that couldn't be fixed on site was the clutch gave out. Had it replaced with a heavy duty and used it for my service truck in an appliance business during week and camper during weekend. Simple, sturdy and reliable. 25 mpg without camper and 20 with it. And I loaded it down with 35 extra gallons of gas plus 25 gallons of water, food, fire wood, tools, toys and a Honda 200 motorcycle slipped in the door!! Please make it again. Best Truck I ever owned.!!!!! I must add, I rolled it and totaled it. I loved that truck and found another one with a 25 gallon saddle tank and camper and replaced it!! My Brother had a 1970 or 71 and liked mine so much he bought a new one (1973) It was still running with the motor from my wrecked on out in the desert as of 2008. He finally sold his cabin and vehicles. I hope it went to a good home...... Nissan Fan!!!

I own a 1993 nissan hardbody truck it is hands down the best truck I ever owned.Why did the car companys stop making the small trucks? What a mistake!I dont need a big truck, I just need a everyday truck to drive and haul things now and then. bring back the small truck.

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