Nissan is planning to drop its full-size Titan pickup at the end of the 2024 model year, as the pickup failed to make a dent in Detroit’s dominance of this segment.
According to someone who spoke to Automotive News and is familiar with the model’s future — or lack of one, “There’s no plan engineering’s working on for replacing it, updating it. It’s dead.”
Industry analysts do not expect the pickup to be replaced once the current generation runs its course through the 2024 model year.
“The full-size pickup market is a really tough market to crack,” Sam Fiorani, vice president, Global Vehicle Forecasting, AutoForecast Solutions LLC, told TheDetroitBureau.com. “We were kind of surprised there was a second generation.”
When asked to comment, Nissan spokesman Colin Price said the Titan was, “an important part of Nissan’s showroom, and we’ve seen a positive impact from Frontier in driving added awareness and consideration for our full-size truck. Titan remains in Nissan’s truck lineup for the 2022 model year and beyond.”
Lackluster retail demand
Yet Nissan’s full-size pickup has never lived up to its name as a sales Titan.
While sales rose 3.5% in 2021 to 27,406 units, up from 26,439 in 2020, demand in the first quarter of this year dropped 14% to 6,415 units, an annualized selling rate of 25,660 units, or 6.4% lower than 2021’s full-year sales, good for 1.4% market share in the full-size space.
To put those first quarter numbers in perspective, Toyota sold 22,643 Tundas in the first quarter, 71.7% more than Nissan, while Ford outsold Nissan by 95.4%, selling 140,701 F-Series pickups.
A Titan in name
The Titan debuted at the North Americana International Auto Show in Detroit in 2003, reaching showrooms later that year as a 2004 model. Executives expected to sell 100,000 units by pricing the Titan as much as $4,200 less than comparable domestic full-size rigs. Certainly, the prospect for success seemed promising. Nissan proved successful selling its smaller pickups in the U.S. market in the 1970s and ’80s, and there seemed little reason to think the Titan wouldn’t prove every bit as successful.
But it wasn’t.
Full-size truck-driving consumers wouldn’t abandon their loyalty to Fords, Chevrolets, GMCs and Rams for a Nissan, as they expect a huge assortment of variation, with different engine and seating configurations — something the Titan didn’t offer, at least initially.
When it debuted, the Titan was available only in four-door Crew Cab and two-door King Cab configurations, a Regular cab wasn’t available. And it only offered one engine, but it was a good one: an all-aluminum 5.6-liter V-8 good for 305 horsepower and a maximum towing capacity of 9,500 pounds for the King Cab and 9,400 pounds for the Crew Cab.
If at first you don’t succeed
That changed for 2017, when the Titan was redesigned. Unlike its predecessor, it was offered in Single Cab, King Cab and Crew Cab configurations and powered by a 5.6-liter V-8 with 390 hp and 394 lb-ft of torque through a 7-speed automatic transmission.
Nissan also introduced the Titan XD, which was a bit more muscular the half-ton Titan, but not quite the three-quarter ton truck you might expect. Offered solely as a crew cab, with a 6.5-foot-bed, and four-wheel drive, its 5.6-liter V-8 engine produced 400 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque through a 9-speed automatic transmission.
Nissan also added a Cummins 5.0-liter turbodiesel V-8, with 310 hp, 555 lb-ft of torque and a towing capacity of 12,830 pounds.
Nissan was now offering the wide array of models offered by Detroit, and what should have been offered when the truck debuted.
“It had all of the right pieces to be a hit,” Fiorani said.
But you never get a second chance to make a good first impression, and the expected sales increase never materialized.
A change is going to come
The Cummins engine was dropped along with the Single Cab model for 2020, when the Titan and Titan XD were updated with new front-end style and LED taillights. But it seemed little more than culling what wasn’t selling, as the Titan’s 7-speed automatic transmission was replaced by a 9-speed transmission, and the interior was updated with an 8- or 9-inch infotainment screen and additional horsepower for the 5.6-liter V-8.
But the following year, Nissan withdrew the Titan from the Canadian market for 2022.
While the company is stating it remains committed to the Titan, the success of the Frontier pickup and the company’s upcoming plans for more EVs doesn’t sound promising for a pickup that’s at the bottom of its market segment — a spot it’s held for its 18-year existence. And being that the Titan is the last vehicle built on its platform, it seems unlikely to exist beyond the current planned production run, as the Nissan Armada is built using the Nissan Patrol’s architecture, and has for several years.
And the Canton, Mississippi plant where the Titan and Titan XD are built also assembles the Altima and Frontier. The Titan’s demise could free up space for added Frontier production, which has proven far more successful.
Certainly, Nissan’s crack at the full-size pickup market has failed.
“When Toyota has difficulty getting into market as a significant player, Nissan is certainly going to have trouble,” Fiorani said.