By on January 18, 2019

Nissan Titan Midnight Edition

Adding to company woes brought on by the Carlos Ghosn scandal, Nissan has announced plans to lay off nearly 700 contract workers at its truck and van manufacturing facility in Mississippi.

The shifts affected are responsible for making the Titan, Frontier, and NV line of vans. While Frontier sales are relatively steady, both Titan and NV numbers are down on a year-over-year basis through the end of December.

The automaker says it will cut production by eliminating one shift of Titan and Frontier pickup truck assembly, reducing those models from three shifts to two. It will also halve the number of shifts building the NV passenger and cargo vans, reducing them to a single shift.

“Nissan is adjusting production capacity at its Canton manufacturing facility to match market demand and maintain healthy inventory levels,” a spokesman said. Apparently, all direct employees will retain their jobs and only contract workers will be dismissed.

2017 Nissan Titan King Cab - Image: Nissan

Sales of the Titan have levelled off, with 50,459 of the trucks sold in 2018 compared to 52,924 the year prior — about a 5 percent drop. The NV line is off by a similar amount. Demand for the Titan spiked after the new model appeared for the 2016 model year. This compares to a low of 12,140 sales in 2015 and a high of 86,945 in 2005. The company has been doing a good job listening to its customers and making incremental changes to the new Titan, adding CarPlay and binning the fender badge that never looked quite right on non-XD trucks.

Still, competition in the half-ton market is fierce. Ram has taken the field to school with its snazzy interior trappings, while Ford continues to crank up the output of its rockstar 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, which now sits at a heady 510 lb-ft of torque. GM brings a trick tailgate to the party. In order to compete in the cutthroat pickup truck game, one must constantly innovate.

2017 Nissan Titan SV Single Cab - Image: Nissan

The job cuts at Nissan pour fuel on existing misery. It has been a couple of months since former boss Ghosn began inspecting the inside of a concrete jail cell. Since then, breach of trust allegations have appeared regarding the awarding of dealer franchises. Adding to the mess, Jose Munoz, one of Ghosn’s closest allies and one of the automaker’s most powerful executives, vanished from his job as chief performance officer late last week after being given a leave of absence. Munoz, who ran Nissan’s North American business before being given responsibility for sales results around the world, is said to have cited the internal investigation of Ghosn in his resignation.

Before the announcement, the company had about 6,500 direct employees and contract workers at the plant in Canton. Last month, Nissan announced plans to lay off about 1,000 people at two factories in Mexico.

[Images: Nissan]

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29 Comments on “Nissan Cutting 700 Workers, Blames Slow Titan Sales...”


  • avatar
    SD 328I

    Its a tough market to crack when you have such powerful competition in Ford, GM, RAM and in a lesser extent Toyota.

    The Tundra at least has it’s reputation, even though it’s more dated design than the Titan and honestly not a better truck.

  • avatar
    CKNSLS Sierra SLT

    This^^^^^^^^^^^

    Based on the competition-I would find that the only customers for the Tundra are Toyota Loyalist. I looked at the Titan XD when I was in the market for a new pickup-the XD was just long enough not to fit in my garage-so I replaced my GMC Sierra-with a new 2018 Silverado. Even then it’s a tight fit.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Titan existed for the buyers who refused to buy Ford, GM or RAM, and who were not willing or able to pay the premium for a Tundra.

      Very popular in my area, especially with young military families, the Titan will continue to draw buyers.

      • 0 avatar
        whynot

        There is a third group who buys the Titan-those who can’t afford the other trucks. Even with the massive incentives on pickups it is not hard to find a Titan with similar or even more features for cheaper than the domestic full-sizers + Tundra.

      • 0 avatar
        thelaine

        Sounds a lot like the Frontier strategy. Nissan’s focus is price.

      • 0 avatar
        sckid213

        I’d venture to guess that military families were drawn to the Titan more because of the “we’ll finance anyone at any credit score” nature of Nissan dealers vs. a refusal to buy an American brand or Toyota.

  • avatar
    Ryan

    I thought that the XD addition would really bump sales. I really like both variants of this truck, although I’ve never driven either.

  • avatar
    redgolf

    so I guess laying off only the “contract workers” doesn’t count as a real lay off! that way the “direct workers” won’t be screaming to unionize, pretty slick of Nissan to hire that way, it’s the same here in Smyrna,Tn. plenty of “contract workers” to layoff first of course no layoffs here, yet!

  • avatar
    redapple

    I d be interested to see the plan how one progresses from Contract to perm.

    Also, the pay of each group.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy67

      “I d be interested to see the plan how one progresses from Contract to perm.”

      I’ll take a SWAG (having worked contract in other industries):

      Work twice as hard for two-thirds the pay and no benefits, and cross your fingers.

  • avatar
    Carrera

    Not a bad truck, a lot of vehicle for the money, but resale isn’t too good. The biggest competition of a brand new Titan is a 6 month to 1 year old Titan. I test drove it and I like it but not too many would buy a new one when used ones’ values drop like a rock. I like it better than the Tundra. At least it hasn’t been designed in 2008…

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    How about better fuel economy?

    The guys who WORK their trucks are generally pretty loyal to the brand, however the guys who are driving a truck because (consciously or subconsciously) they can’t buy Ford Galaxies, Chevrolet Caprices, or Chrysler Newports – you might be able to sway those guys into say a Titan Crew Cab if it had the right attributes and price.

    Personally if I was going to buy a full size truck I’d get an F150 XLT Crew Cab 4×4 2.7 TT V6. But that’s because I’d be using it as a sedan analogue and not hauling XX tons up the Grapevine.

    (I use this as an example because Nissan/Toyota have some of the worst fuel economy in their full size trucks while Ford has some of the best.)

    • 0 avatar
      R Henry

      Such a logical approach. Same as mine. Thing is, few cars/trucks are sold to guys appealing to their logic. It’s about brand image and a whole host of intangibles….intangibles the manufacturers have spent lots of $$$ to develop.

      –I bet even fleet buyers, in the end, choose their pickups based on things other than objective metrics.

    • 0 avatar
      whynot

      The thing is the Titan is actually surprisingly good to drive. It’s handling and composure is far better than you would expect, and it has plenty of power. The entire cabin just has a feeling of cheapness though (standard with Nissan), and things like the infotainment system are decidedly dated.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    Whoever greenlit the Gen II Titan should be locked up! (nevermind, he already is)

  • avatar
    conundrum

    I suppose they sell these around here. Can’t ever remember seeing one.

    Only contract employees will be dismissed. Sure, 700 of them, likely. Corporate speak.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I have seen very few in the wild, which kind of surprises me a bit. I was thinking the addition of the Cummins diesel would bring some of the diesel guys over. I have yet to see a Titan rolling coal…

  • avatar
    John

    In the last 2 years I have seen only 3 of the Nissan Titans, and all 3 where of the XD Cummins powered variaty.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    If Nissan wanted to sell more NV vans, they could offer them with AWD or 4WD. So hard to buy any kind of van with that.

    As far as the Titan goes, they didn’t really go very far with the last update, IMO.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      GM did try that several years ago and dropped it pretty quickly because the take rate was so low. Though the time could now be right as AWD/4WD has become more common with the market shift. However with the low volume of their van, only about 17k units last year, I can’t see anyway they could justify the investment needed. It just wouldn’t be worth it even if it would double their volume.

      • 0 avatar
        kosmo

        You’re probably right. My “world view” of auto stuff is so skewed by where I live, in a highly recreational PNW small town.

        For example, Honda Elements sold out in days after it was announced they were done. And if you can find a non-AWD Sienna minivan I’ll buy you a beer.

        To be fair GM’s AWD take rate was initially not bad IIRC, but something was wonky with the system and V8 torque, resulting in a lot of warranty claims? And still, you could find 10 of these here by simply driving through the ski area parking lot on a busy Saturday.

        I’m no big Nissan fan, but I do love me a big, square box. Currently being well-served by a 2007 Sprinter, but the new ones cost a fortune, and AWD lifts them unacceptably for our preferences. And did I mention cost? I think I did!

  • avatar
    suspekt

    Among all the good reasons given for slow sales, i really feel its a styling fail. Just an abysmal bloated looking rig. If anything, it could have at least looked tough and muscular. They had soooooooo many years to get the design nailed down and its a turd

  • avatar
    Mr.EpMini9

    Nissan needs to offer more packages to attract those customers not wanting a truck to do truck duties.

  • avatar
    jatz

    Base F-150 is 2 grand less than base Titan. No brainer.

    • 0 avatar
      cobrajoe

      The Base F-150 also has 100 less hp than the base Titan, and the cost to upgrade to the similar output 5.0 is $2k.

      It’s only a no brainer if you’re ok with less power.


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