Nissan Less Committed to Pickups, With Good Reason

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
nissan less committed to pickups with good reason

Nissan won’t be extending the same commitment it has for small cars to its full-size pickup line. The automaker recently told U.S. dealers that it would begin scaling back its Titan offerings, partly due to a new Titan looming on the horizon. Nissan intends to unveil the new pickup in the fall. Meanwhile, existing Titan sales could be a lot stronger. The model can’t really compete against domestic brands, despite also being manufactured in the U.S.

The Titan’s annual sales are less than monthly Ford F-Series deliveries. Extrapolated, Nissan moved 50,459 units in 2018 against the pickup sales king’s 909,330. But the Titan even has trouble competing with the likes of the GMC Sierra, which saw 219,554 domestic deliveries last year.

According to Automotive News, Nissan’s evolved pickup strategy focuses on prioritizing what works for the passenger market — which means turnings its back on single-cab models and the Cummins diesel engine available in the Titan XD.

While the cab change fits with Nissan’s new plan, which involves weening itself off fleet volume, the diesel V8 turned out to be a popular option. Industry estimates place nearly one of every eight Titans sold last year as a diesel, and at least half the XDs sold over the same time period were optioned with the Cummins. Considering sales also spiked after its introduction, the discontinuation is a big fat question mark.

Cummins has hinted that it wanted to cease production on the ISV 5.0-liter V8 for a while, with industry rumors claiming the engine maker discussed the matter with auto manufacturers earlier in the year. That may have forced Nissan’s hand.

However, the XD also occupies a difficult place in the market. It’s not quite as capable as the HD pickups it competes against and the diesel engine hasn’t received a lot of praise. The biggest gripe is that the powertrain feels unrefined, though it’s also not pulling its weight in terms of towing, either. Optioning the diesel ups your maximum towing weight by 1,000 pounds, but you’ll still be relegated to taking much lighter loads than you would in a Ford Super Duty.

These are issues the brand is likely to address with the Titan’s successor. Nissan Division Vice President Billy Hayes claimed that streamlining production now would make readying the new model a little easier. “We are simplifying the Titan lineup to focus our efforts on models that maximize opportunities to attract retail customers in the market for a full-size truck,” he said. “With a stronger, more focused lineup, we can maximize the impact of the investment we are making.”

The new model is slated to debut in September at the Texas State Fair. Nissan’s next XD pickup will follow later in the fall. However, Nissan admitted both will be more focused on the retail market — meaning the XD might be low on options. It’s unclear whether the brand will try to straddle the model between light and heavy duty segments once again, but Nissan has not indicated it will deliver an upgraded super hauler with the new XD.

“I am not ready to discuss the future,” Tiago Castro, Nissan Division’s director of light commercial vehicles, told Automotive News. But he did say to expect the 2020 XD to have specs similar to the 2019 model year.

[Images: Nissan]

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  • John John on Aug 14, 2019

    Cummins will replace the ISV 5.0-liter V8 with a line of inline 6 cylinder engines, based their R2.8 Turbo Diesel 4 engine. So we are likely to see a line of 3.0-4.2L engines, such a line would be more appropriate for Mid Sized Pickup Trucks.

  • Cprescott Cprescott on Aug 26, 2019

    Nissan has always built third rate full-sized trucks - I remember seeing the first Titan and pushing on the radio area and the panel flexed tremendously. Then I looked at the frame - it was enough to convince me that Nissan was not serious about building a modern truck. They were actually building something that would have been borderline competitive 20 years ago.

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