In the best “We’re not dead yet” press release since sports car maker Lotus went off the deep end last year, Nissan has made an announcement that it’s sticking with the pickup truck game with intent to “deliver a winner.”
Nissan has been producing the current Titan pickup truck since the 2004 model year, with little more than a light refresh. It never got any engines besides the 5.6-liter V-8 it has now or an upgrade beyond its five-speed automatic transmission. In the beginning of its life, it was fairly competitive, but, for example, the Ram 1500 pickup truck has gotten two fairly extensive re-engineering treatments in the time Nissan has sat on its hands.
Last year, Nissan sold 21,576 Titan pickup trucks, lagging well behind the other Japanese full-sizer, the Toyota Tundra, and its 101,621 sales.
Admittedly, the U.S. full-size truck market is a hard one to crack. American automakers rely on their trucks to keep them afloat. Thus, their trucks happen to have all sorts of investments dumped into them. They have the resources to do it when they’re selling upwards of 300,000 trucks a year. Nissan says it isn’t giving up, though.
“As a full-line manufacturer, Nissan aims to be a player in every part of the truck business,” said Pierre Loing, vice president, Product and Advanced Planning and Strategy, in a statement. “Our truck teams in Michigan, Arizona, Tennessee and Mississippi are hard at work on a next generation full-size truck line that will expand Titan’s appeal to a broader spectrum of truck buyers, including the all-important skilled trades-buyers. Our new truck will be filled with Nissan innovation and expertise without compromise.”
Nissan’s smaller Frontier has benefited from Ford pulling its Ranger out of production, leaving a gaping hole the size of a termite hill for the Orkin man to start switching up his ride. And Nissan was originally planning on co-developing a truck with Chrysler based off the Ram before the 2009 bankruptcy halted negotiations. So Nissan will once again go it alone.
Nissan says it has not yet provided a timeline for a new truck for the sake of market competitiveness. We say Nissan really doesn’t have much to lose anyway.
But much as Nissan has gone on a tear with new cars and truck–the Nissan NV full-size van–over the last year and a half, expect Nissan to get in the ring with a flurry of new haulers in quick succession.
And expect something more than the offbeat presser reminding us that it still makes commercial-grade vehicles for the U.S. You can do better than that, Nissan.