It’s tough to break into an established market where brand loyalty reigns supreme and old habits die hard. Nowhere is that more evident than with full-sized pickup trucks in America, a segment in which the Detroit Three have a stranglehold on sales. Only two other brands of late have dared try to muscle their way into the arena; in the not-too-distant future, there may be only half that number.
According to a report from Automotive News, Nissan is ready to let its Titan pickup truck wither until the end of its current lifecycle. “There’s no plan engineering’s working on for replacing it, updating it,” a source for the industry insiders have apparently told AN. The only decision left to make, allegedly, is whether the truck makes it to the 2024 or 2025 model year.
Put succinctly by the source: “It’s dead.”
This is sad news, and not just because it means one less competitor in the marketplace. Nissan and their Titan always represented a quirky, off-beat choice for the segment – particularly when they offered the rig in ‘regular’ and ‘almost-but-not-quite’ three-quarter ton XD variants. Production of the second-gen Titan kicked off in November 2015, replacing a truck which had been on the market for well over a decade and had actually started development waaay back when we were all still worried about the Y2K bug. Your author will posit it was a decently attractive truck, though XD models had a too-long schnoz. It didn’t help that Ram, Ford, and GM always seemed to offer more toys like massaging seats and innovation such as the Blue Oval’s 7.2 kW in-bed generator on PowerBoost-equipped trucks.
Bent on taking the Detroit Three to task, Nissan offered the Titan in a myriad of body configurations – regular cab, extended cab, crew cab – and box lengths, not to mention a Cummins diesel option in the XD. These were surely not cheap decisions. A refresh in 2020 brought a tweaked nose and improved interior along with a better transmission and up-to-date driving tech. Sales did not get better.
North of the border, Canadian shoppers saw the Titan vanish from Nissan showrooms after the 2021 model year. This was much to the chagrin of some dealers who invested heavily in shop tools and equipment for these rigs, not to mention the training and marketing presence they had built over the years since the second-gen Titan appeared. One dealer in this author’s area now has a surplus building on his land, empty save for the now useless ‘Nissan Commercial’ signs hanging on the place. It should be noted the Titan comprised a significant chunk of his store’s volume.
If the talking heads are correct, this move may permit Nissan to free up production facilities and R&D for other models. There is an argument to be made the company may be better served plowing resources into other projects, doing the best job they can with those machines instead of spreading itself too thin by attempting to play in markets where it is failing to get much traction. In calendar year 2021 – a strange annum for all manufacturers, to be sure – Nissan managed to sell 27,406 Titan trucks. Ford, for its part, shifted a total of 726,004 F-Series pickups.
We’ll leave the last word with an anonymous dealer who provided the following quote to AN: “I would hope Nissan would spend extra money on R&D on the Frontier,” he said. “If we’re walking away from the full-size segment, then we must be extremely good at the midsize truck.”[Images: Nissan]
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