By on February 13, 2017

2017 Nissan Titan King Cab - Image: Nissan

By broadening its lineup, rethinking the dealer approach, and focusing on prime markets, Nissan intends to increase its Titan pickup truck’s share of America’s full-size market to 5 percent.

5 percent. One in twenty trucks. One Titan for every 19 Ford F-Series, Chevrolet Silverado, Ram P/U, GMC Sierra, and Toyota Tundra.

That doesn’t sound so crazy, does it?

Nah, at least until you realize that in 2016, Nissan sold fewer than 22,000 Titans, or slightly less than 1 percent market share.

There are reasons to believe Nissan could get there, but there are at least as many reasons — if not more — to believe the 5 percent market share goal, equal to roughly 112,000 annual Titan sales, is unreasonable, if not outlandish.

2017 Nissan Titan Texas Edition - Image: Nissan

LINEUP
“We now have a full lineup of vans and we now have a full lineup of trucks that complement each other,” Nissan’s Fred Diaz, Nissan’s North American truck boss, said at the Chicago Auto Show debut of the Titan King Cab, Nissan’s extended cab pickup.

With the arrival of the King Cab, Nissan will now have the semi-heavy-duty Titan XD with gas and diesel engines plus the regular-duty Titan with the V8 engine in crew, single, and extended cabs. Nissan’s Titan lineup has never been this exhaustive, not even when annual Titan volume peaked at 86,945 units in its first-generation’s first full year, 2005.

Nissan’s full-size pickup truck market share at that time: 3.5 percent.

DEALERS
Nissan is also altering the dealer approach to full-size trucks, Automotive News reports.

This includes fronting dealer lots with trucks and employing specialists in the truck and commercial vehicle sector as well as intensive training in order for sales consultants to know how to sell a Versa Note and a Titan Platinum Reserve.

“You’ve got to know trucks and talk trucks when these customers come in,” Diaz says.

2017 Nissan Titan SV Single Cab - Image: Nissan

MARKETS
Part of that enhanced dealer approach will require a focus on key pickup truck markets. Instead of foisting identical targets upon wildly diverse markets, Nissan is providing dealers with new data sets that enable more regionally sensitive goals.

In January, for instance, Nissan pointed out that the Titan outsold the far more common Toyota Tundra in Omaha, Nebraska and Salt Lake City, Utah. Granted, that’s not exactly Dallas, let alone America, but the Titan had never achieved that result in the past.

2016 Nissan Titan XD - Image: Nissan

LOYALTY
But even in January, as year-over-year Titan volume nearly tripled, Nissan owned just 1.8 percent of America’s full-size truck market. Nissan continues to be faced with the greatest challenge of all: in 2017, Ford, General Motors, Ram, and even Toyota are revolving doors for full-size pickup truck buyers who have always driven F-150s, Silverados, Hemis, and Tundras.

More than 90 percent of full-size truck buyers choose a pickup from one of the traditional Detroit marques. Not only does Titan need to convince a large chunk of those buyers to purchase or lease a Titan, that stage of persuasion isn’t possible until Nissan has persuaded buyers to come and have a look. That’s a hugely challenging task in a market with such entrenched loyalty.

2018 Ford F150 - Image: Ford

ADVANCES
While Nissan slowly launched the second-generation Titan — first as the niche market XD early last year, the regular-duty Titan crew cab in September, and then the single cab in November — the competition didn’t sit still.

Ford brought the ten-speed automatic to the F-150 for the 2017 model year and has thoroughly refreshed the F-150 for the 2018 model year, adding a diesel engine and improving its current stable of powerplants. GM and Ram drop special edition trucks seemingly every day at breakfast, lunch, and supper.

PRODUCT
The Titan lineup, meanwhile, isn’t that expansive. The countless build configurations on offer from the traditional segment dominators bears little resemblance to the tidy range provided by Nissan.

More importantly, Titan fails on the fuel economy front, with the most efficient four-wheel-drive Titan rated at 15 miles per gallon city and 21 mpg on the highway. We measured 12.7 mpg in our test.

“The 2017 Nissan Titan needed to be better than its high-volume rivals,” I wrote last month in a Titan review. “It needed to be better than good enough. It isn’t.”

Of course, Nissan can earn the 5-percent market share and 100,000+ annual sales results the company desires. Virtually any automaker can.

For every vehicle, there is a price point where any level of market share is theoretically possible, though likely not profitable.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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52 Comments on “Seriously? Nissan Intends To Quintuple Titan Volume and Market Share...”


  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Oh, the boundless delusion of Sales…

    • 0 avatar
      Von

      Yeah, I’m not seeing it neither. But at least they were good enough salesmen to get corporate to buy that, right?

    • 0 avatar
      TwoBelugas

      If you think Nissan corporate is delusional…go check out the Titan XD forum. They are convinced that once the King Cabs(extended cab in Nissanese) and regular cabs are released then sales will REALLY take off for both XD and 1/2 ton Titans.

      Seriously.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    So BIG DISCOUNTS coming soon on Titans!

    Especially the homely standard cab (I love standard cab but that thing is painful to look at.)

  • avatar
    tresmonos

    The 2009 GM bankruptcy, GM building it’s trucks in Mexico and the ugliness of the K2XXX all prove that the truck market doesn’t make any sense. GM sales still remain the same as they ever were.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    The full size pickup market is brand loyal and slow to consider change.
    Even Toyota hasn’t really won a substantial slice of the full size market after 15+ years of trying.

    Also longevity…the number of ancient US brand pickups on the road, even in the salt belt…is pretty good advertising. Nissan compounded their problem using an undersize rear axle in the Titan which has hurt their reputation.

    • 0 avatar
      John-95_Taurus_3.0_AX4N

      Slow to consider change?

      Is that why most F-150s now have a twin-turbo V-6? Why the Ram has coil springs? Why the F-Series went all aluminum? Why as soon as half-ton crew cabs hit the market, they took off like wildfire?

      Tundra is a poser’s truck. People are not ignorant because they don’t buy it. They’re ignorant if they do.

      • 0 avatar
        turbo_awd

        John, I think you misread indi500fan’s comment. He didn’t mean the manufacturers were slow to consider change. He meant the customers were slow to consider changing brands.

        • 0 avatar
          indi500fan

          Yeah my comment was more like Joe’s grandpa had Ford pickups, Joe’s dad has a Ford pickup, Joe has a Ford pickup, and Joe’s kid will probably buy a Ford pickup 10 yrs from now.

          All the technical change mentioned is driven mostly by looming fuel economy regs.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        “Tundra is a poser’s truck. People are not ignorant because they don’t buy it. They’re ignorant if they do.”

        My understanding is that Tundra buyers are mostly domestic guys seeking refuge after a particularly bad experience with whatever they’re coming from (be it Dodge, GM, or Ford). My brother’s mechanic friend spends all day working on wonky Chinese GM truck electrics and rusty front hubs, any number of Ram weak-spots, etc in Western NY. He previously drove a Ridgeline, which really wasn’t cut out for hauling a ton of scrap in its bed (but still served faithfully). Lightly used Doublecab Tundra with the 5.7L was a natural fit for him. Go ahead and try to tell that guy he’s ignorant. He’ll probably unload a whole litany of complaints about the domestic half-ton issues he has to deal with regularly.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          Agreed. Typical Tundra buyer is a guy that got screwed by a so-called domestic. Most Tundra owners I know are former Ram owners.

          • 0 avatar
            rustyra24

            According to the Kogod Made in America Auto Index the Tundra is made with more American content than the Silverado. Ford is still king of American content.

  • avatar
    John-95_Taurus_3.0_AX4N

    Maybe if they skip the decade-plus long generations and update it almost as often as Ford does. I realize they don’t have (or want to spend) the money Ford does on the F-Series, but if the next gen Titan doesn’t show up until 2030, lol they might as well give up now.

    They’re making the right moves: more variety/choices and more capability.

    I know I was pondering an XD, and I do like it, but I’ve decided it wouldn’t be the truck for me.

    I would most certainly buy it over a Tundra, but that’s not saying much. I’d buy a 1st gen Titan over any Tundra.

  • avatar
    Truckducken

    Nissan is going to accomplish this the same way they’ve methodically raised their share of the car market: through financing. Specifically, making financing available to every warm body that walks through the door. This is how GM staved off BK for a few decades, but now that they’ve got religion, someone else needs to take up the slack. It won’t end well, but there are plenty of bonuses to be paid along the way.

    • 0 avatar
      OldManPants

      Well, an average schmoe like me might be wise to not immediately write this off because Nissan is still at least vestigially Japanese re kaizen based QA.

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        Eh, that’s going a bit to far for praising Nissan. Their Kaizen must be broken.

        • 0 avatar
          OldManPants

          Of course I’d resubscribe to CR first and check out their recent history.

          • 0 avatar
            tresmonos

            Haven’t had access to a subscription since 2013. I won’t doubt you, then.

            Maybe it’s time to re-up since I’m about to buy a bunch of kitchen appliances.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            CR puts both the Titan and Titan XD at “predicted worse than average.”

            of course, this is the same CR which- when I go to their page on ratings for “Pickup Trucks”- shows me their review of a Mazda CX-9. And includes the Leaf in their drop-down selection of trucks.

            and doesn’t have enough data to even tabulate scores for individual attributes.

            CR is a magazine, not a bible.

          • 0 avatar
            tresmonos

            lol, right on, JimZ.

            My plan is to stick with Louisville assembled GE overpriced crap anyway. Made in USA and all that.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Truckducken,
      Another factor to support Nissan is they don’t have a bad name in trucks.

      The limiting factor with the previous Titan was body types on offer.

      You might get a few alternative facts from the small band of Ford diehards, but nothing of quality.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Nissan first needs to focus on fleet buyers, cheapskates and other bottom feeders. Yes taking a loss if need be. Basic pickups, with every tow, payload, power group, etc, packages under the sun, readily available, eventually working their way up the ladder from there. Basically paying their dues along the way.

    There’s no free lunch!

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      DenverMike – They need to focus on mid spec trim crew cab trucks. That is what sells.
      They started with high end diesel trucks. That was stupid since Ford, GM, and Ram have that part of the market tied up. I’m not going to buy a diesel Titan when the Big 3 have trucks that can tow almost triple and haul triple the amount a Titan can.
      Chasing fleets is also stupid. There is minimal profit and Nissan doesn’t have the capacity to fill typical big fleet orders.
      “cheapskates and other bottom feeders” are still driving around in old Rangers and Safari vans.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        All lines of pickups need to be well rounded, not just top-heavy, or even mid-grade “heavy”, even if that’s the “meat” of the industry.

        Fleet sales, even if thin on options, bling, etc, are still vital, integral to the profitability of “Big 3” fullsize pickups. Remember those just fly off the assembly lines, often dozens identical in a row, with customers that aren’t gonna complain if fit-n-finish is subpar, factory blems, etc, and will likely ignore minor “warranty” fixable issues. They just drive them into the ground and come back for more, while never hurting the line’s “resale value”.

        Basic pickups you see on the road, on the job, loaded with racks, ladders, equipment and covered with dirt, just completely hammered all over, are what sell people on the brand. The “off-brand” trucks loaded with chrome and driven by BAFO’s “75%’ers”, not so much.

        You know “work trucks” are abused by *owners*, lack of maintenance, clogged air filters, etc, never mind hourly tradesmen/techs. WOT, then stand on the brakes. But don’t get me wrong, soccer moms abuse pickups too!

        It’s the fleet trucks that earn the brand respect. Maybe the tradesmen/women worked for a company that only ran, beat-on Rams. When they’re ready to buy their own *new* mid-grade, crew cab 4X4 pickup for personal use or business, don’t be surprised if they go for the Ram.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        Honestly the only (and I mean ONLY) reason to buy a Titan XD is if you have to have the Cummins ISV. Because the story about it being a “tweener” size pickup doesn’t hold water. it feels and handles like an HD pickup, and is just as heavy as an equivalently-specced diesel F-250. and I mean a previous-gen P473 F-250, not the new P558.

        • 0 avatar
          cdotson

          “it feels and handles like an HD pickup, and is just as heavy as an equivalently-specced diesel F-250”

          With payload and tow ratings that exceed top-of-the-line 1/2-tons by only a meaningless amount.

  • avatar
    Rday

    Nissan will put plenty of cash on the table to make this pickup sell. I looked at one when it first came out and the interior was the best. my gf’s son in law has one and he likes it alot.
    I am just leery of nissans after my limited experience with them and what i read in CR. I will buy almost any good vehicle as long as it has Toyota on it. Well maybe Honda too.

  • avatar
    cdotson

    I’m somewhat confused by the inclusion of the van lineup along with their pickup lineup. The NV vans are limited to Nissan Commercial dealers which are thin on the ground at best. There are 4 Nissan dealers in the Richmond, VA area but only one is a “Commercial” dealer. They hide their NVs way in the back gravel section of the lot or around the side by the body shop.

    I recently test drove an NV passenger SL there. The 2017s still weren’t out. The updated V8 and 7-speed transmission wont’ hit the NV vans until sometime later in the 2017 model year despite being in the XD and Armada for over a year now. The NV’s fleet penetration will be limited by the fact they aren’t eligible for the heavy duty work vehicle tax deduction due to the length of the frontal proboscis violating a statutory condition for said deduction (so I have read, somewhere).

    I know I’m resisting my wife’s interest in the NVP because even their not yet available updated powertrain seems like catch-up to yesteryear’s tech and the knowledge that we’d be doing well to hit an unladen 15mpg when she drives 20k+ a year frightens me.

    That said, if Nissan put the Cummins in the NV and threw it at the RV upfitter/trailering crowd (why we’re considering one, 7+ passenger and 9000 lbs towing) they’d get pretty far. They just need to work on getting them into *every* Nissan dealership, not just the Commercial ones.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Maybe the Renault 230hp 420ftlb 3 litre V6 diesel would be a better engine.

      The ISV is a better engine for the Titan XD.

      The Renault 3 litre V6 would be a good option for the Titan 1/2 ton.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I see Nissan’s market share of 5% achievable. It will take a couple of years.

    Nissan should target the 75% who generally use their pickups as daily drivers. Nissan should be picky regarding fleet sales.

    I particularly think the XD should become a great 250/2500 alternative to many.

    • 0 avatar
      TwoBelugas

      Except everyone is already targeting the 75% who use their pickup as daily drivers. Ram and GM got the comfort end covered, Ford dominates the “Ford or Bust” crowd, while Toyota owns the ex-CamCordTima drivers.

      Nissan went out of their way to market the XD as a “super duper capable 1/2 ton” so their chance of competing in the 3/4 ton is a non starter by their own design. Meanwhile, 1/2 ton shoppers are not going to be happy with the fuel economy of the XD.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        This is a huge under serviced market.

        The mainstay and profit making in pickups comes from the 75% wanna be truckies.

        So Nissan has every chance in getting 5% of that, even with an average performing product.

        • 0 avatar
          Adam Tonge

          “So Nissan has every chance in getting 5% of that, even with an average performing product.”

          Not when the market has cheaper alternatives that are objectively better. There is no room for an average product in the US full-sized truck arena. Especially if the brand isn’t an established player.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @Adam Tonge
            Agree . Nissan would have to be a miracle worker. Titan had an underwhelming reception when introduced as it confused buyers to what it was supposed to be.
            Nissan US, compared to Company globally has some pretty ordinary management. Why they released that hideous Van, which under performs in many ways is beyond me.
            Ancient Nissan Frontier is their mainstay. I guess Nissan Global management is wary of refreshing the Frontier, as they could lose their cash cow

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            Adam,
            Ram? The only good thing about Ram are the engines.

            Ford? You know my views on F150s. They are competitive.

            GM? Tundra?

            I do believe the Titan will compete, it will take time.

            As I stated the 1/2 ton Titan needs a the 3 litre V6 diesel.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            RobertRyan,
            Ever since Renault stuck their nose into Nissan in 1999, the larger Nissan vehicles have taken a step backwards.

            The new Titan should of been based on the Patrol. The D40 should of been better.

            I think Nissan still considers 20 year+ plus life cycles as the norm for SUVs and pickups. The D40 had to be replaced. Even the new Navara is a heavily reworked D22 cross D40.

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            I don’t think the Titan is a bad vehicle. Like Tim said, it needs to be better than the others. That’s why the first gen was successful out of the gate; in many ways it was a better truck than what the Big 3 were building.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      It’s a fairytale. “…and they lived happily ever after!!!”

      Except you can’t go directly to the luxo trucks, or even ‘mid trim’, not with any kind of success, or even 5% market share.

      The top 3 sellers paid their dues, heavily invested, and offer millions of combinations of trim, engines, options, packages, axles, cabs, etc, etc. Or at least it seems.

      If not, what does Nissan expect? Aftermarket support is also weak for Titans. When a buyer wants an array of push bumpers, toolboxes, suspension, wheels, etc, they’re kinds screwed. Nissan can’t control that, but they have to put lots more pickups on the street, and that starts with “fleet”. There’s no shortcuts here.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      The problem is that the Titan isn’t good enough to compete with the Big 3 trucks. They aren’t going to capture conquests with a brand name that doesn’t mean anything to truck people, and a truck that isn’t better than the competition. Sure, the V8 Cummins is a great selling point. That still isn’t enough.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      Big Al and his alternate pickup facts.

      You have any evidence that 75% of pickups are daily drivers or you being creative with the definition?

      My brother “daily drivers” his Chevy HD crew 4×4. It is called work!

      I have yet to see a Titan XD as a work truck. 1,500 – 1,800 lb cargo rating isn’t enough for anyone I know in the logging industry.

  • avatar
    kkop

    I owned two of the previous generation and liked them well enough. But no updates in 10+ years made me finally buy a Ram 1500. After driving it for a while, we bought another one. Miles ahead of the old Titan, especially in fuel economy.

    I test drove the new generation Titan at a Nissan event, and was underwhelmed with the truck. The cab shape is the same as the old model, meaning the windshield is laid flatter than usual making taller drivers like me duck their heads. Still no multi-displacement engine or other ways to save fuel. And prices that are wildly optimistic, especially after taking into account the money on the hood for domestic trucks.

    Oh, and the electronics are a repeat of the previous generation Titan: outdated upon release.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    The “Detroit 3” aren’t stupid. They know where their money comes from, and they spend a lot adding new features, etc. to their pickups. The only way Toyota competes is because of its reputation for superior quality. On features, etc., not so much.

    As a trailer guy, IMHO, the new XD diesel is a big fail. The 5-liter Cummins engine is nice but heavy. As a result, the truck’s payload suffers a lot (and the truck is pretty heavy to begin with). If you’re towing an 8,000 lb. trailer, at least of 800 lbs of that is tongue weight being carried by the truck. Add the weight of 3-4 passengers and stuff in the bed, and you’re probably substantially overloaded.

    There’s a reason why the other mfrs. who are putting diesels in “1/2 ton” pickups are using small displacement (2.8-3 liters) diesel engines with heavy turbocharging: there’s less of a payload penalty as compared to the gasoline powered versions. Longevity in heavy service maybe another matter . . . but the mileage figures look great; and that still sells trucks to some people.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      There money comes from a protected source.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @DC Bruce – Exactly.

      The Titan XD does not have the GVW to tow anything big. TFL truck tested the XD with a gooseneck trailer. They had to “tail load” the trailer to keep it from exceeding the truck’s capacity and could ONLY have the driver and one passenger on board.

      The XD isn’t an alternative to a 3/4 ton despite what BAFO or Nissan PR says.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Yea, I don’t find the XD diesel too compelling. Brand new engine, all the diesel emissions equipment, high-ish price, and knee-capped payload.

      The XD gasser is maybe a little compelling when you factor in discounts. You get the Infiniti running-gear without paying Armada/QX cash and a 5-figure towing capacity.

  • avatar
    Joebaldheadedgranny

    Only one engine available in the 2017 Single Cab Titan- 5.6L V8. Even with the 7-speed auto it will be a tall order to dent GM/Ford/FCA market share in the Fleet/Commercial space. Not going to happen without monster incentives.


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