The next-generation Nissan Titan will be getting a much-needed diesel option.

Long an also-ran in the full-size truck market, Nissan wants to come out swinging when it launches an all-new version of the Titan pickup a few years from now – so it’s asking current owners and potential buyers to help design precisely the truck that they would want.

As part of what the Japanese maker is calling “Project Titan,” it is turning to the social media, using crowdsourcing to “build the ultimate off-road capable truck,” the maker explained during an announcement at the 2014 Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show in Las Vegas.  The project car will be produced and turned over to a wounded veteran.

But what comes out of the crowdsourcing effort, Nissan suggests, will influence what it does with the next Titan model.

“Nissan is invested in designing the most innovative trucks ever,” said Fred Diaz, senior vice president, Nissan Sales and Marketing, Parts and Service in the U.S. “Projects like this allow us to gather input directly from industry leading media members and those companies that embrace an outdoor lifestyle in their work and play, helping us deliver trucks that buyers want to own.”

Like its Japanese rival Toyota, Nissan has struggled to crack into the huge but largely domestic-loyal full-size pickup market.  Sales have lagged well behind the Detroit Big Three and Nissan has been looking for ways to boost its position with an all-new truck.

It has already announced that the next-generation Nissan Titan will be offered with an optional Cummins 5.0-liter V-8 turbo-diesel, a choice that has become increasingly popular with buyers who want maximum towing and hauling capability but don’t necessarily want the fuel economy hit of a big gas-powered V-8.

(Chevy lands clean sweep of North American Car, Truck of the year with Corvette, Silverado. Click Here for the full story.)

The Japanese maker hasn’t said much else about what’s in store, Diaz only hinting, the replacement will be “well-positioned to be a major contender in the full-size pickup truck market and buyers will be impressed with what we have planned.”

The new model couldn’t come soon enough.  The original Titan was introduced in late 2003, making it today the oldest full-size model on the market.  Chrysler replaced its Ram for 2013, winning honors as the North American Truck of the Year, then following with an updated diesel edition for 2014 that went on to win the Motor Trend Truck of the Year.  Chevrolet launched its new Silverado last autumn, taking the North American Truck of the Year trophy earlier this week.

And Ford delivered what has been hailed as the biggest news of the 2014 North American International Auto Show by announcing plans to replace its best-selling F-Series truck with an all-aluminum model.

(Click Here for more on the new F-Series.)

Nissan had originally planned to have a replacement of its own in the market by around now.  But it initially was looking to come to market with a truck that would be produced in a partnership with Chrysler and based on the maker’s new Ram 1500.  That project fell apart as Italian maker Fiat expanded its stake in Chrysler and pushed away from the Nissan alliance.

As part of Project Titan, the maker asked 2,500 journalists attending the outdoor show to submit a video or tweet using #ProjectTitan to pick one of a series of “ultimate adventures,” including four-wheeling across the Baza, fishing for steelhead in Idaho or hunting big game in Alaska. Later phases of the project will seek input from the public on what they expect of a truck. Eventually, a running model – based off the current Titan – will be produced.  It will be turned over to a veteran injured in the line of duty.  That vet will take one of the adventures along with an outdoor journalist.

(For a complete round-up of the news from the 2014 North American International Auto Show, Click Here.)

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