Seriously? Nissan Intends To Quintuple Titan Volume and Market Share

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Timothy Cain
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  • DC Bruce DC Bruce on Feb 13, 2017

    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.

    • See 2 previous
    • Ajla Ajla on Feb 13, 2017

      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.

  • Joebaldheadedgranny Joebaldheadedgranny on Feb 14, 2017

    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.

  • Akear I just wish GM could produce a vehicle 80% as good as the crown.I sat in a Trax at a Chevrolet dealership this weekend and was shocked how cheap it felt. GM does not care.GM - what a disgrace!
  • Akear I like the grill treatment of all Mitsubishi products. It is an interesting and original design.
  • El scotto Some rambling thoughts; Elon is pulling billions in cash out of Tesla. Tesla will be around, Elon won't let them fail. Mitsubishi is an odd place, you can't sell vehicles if you don't have dealers. Out of all the "Automalls" near you, how many have a Mitsubishi dealership? The Agnellis owned Fiat, Fiat got sold to Stellantis. The Agnellis control Exor. How much of Stellantis does Exor own? I really should be drinking beer with Billy Ford and talking Big-10 trash with him. Ford and Lucid should work out a partnership. You want an electric Lincoln? Have Lucid build it and slap a Lincoln name plate on it. BTW, kick Farley's butt to the curb.
  • Akear US contentChevrolet Trax - 5%Honda Pilot - 52%What a disgrace!I glad Consumer Reports panned the Trax, and put it on its avoid list.
  • Akear This is similar to what lazy GM and Ford used to do.
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