Nissan Motor Co. isn’t ready to say when its V-8 diesel Titan pickup will go on sale in the United States.
Nissan announced in August it would sell a new Titan with a Cummins 5.0-liter V-8 Turbo Diesel. It announced in February it was working to upgrade the truck.
“That’s going to put us in a far more competitive space than we’ve ever been with the truck,” said Fred Diaz, Nissan Division senior vice president for U.S. sales, marketing, parts and service, who until last April headed Chrysler’s Ram unit. “If we’re going to stay in that industry and in that segment and be taken serious, you need to do something that’s going to make you credible.”
In an interview this week on the sidelines of the North American International Auto Show, Diaz said, “You’ve got to go big or go home. If you’re going to play in that market, you better put your big-boy pants on.”
Diaz declined to say when the diesel will go on sale. “Not soon enough,” he said. “It’s killing me that I can’t tell you.”
Industry pickup sales were up 12 percent in 2013. Diaz said the truck was the biggest hole in Nissan’s lineup. “We’re missing a huge opportunity there,” he said.
Titan sales fell 27.3 percent in 2013 to 21,576, and were down 30 percent in December.
Nissan has previously announced the next-generation Titan will add powertrain options and cab-and-box configurations.
The diesel truck will be the first diesel Nissan has sold in the United States in early 30 years. “I think you’re going to see a lot more proliferation of diesel going forward. We’re studying the possibility of diesel being in more of our products going forward.”
Diaz noted that the Titan hasn’t been updated since 2003.
Nissan also is looking at a new generation of its smaller Frontier truck as the Japanese automaker upgrades its lineup to compete in a tough pickup market.
Sales of the Frontier were up 47 percent in December, and up 13 percent for the year to nearly 63,000. Nissan could add a diesel Frontier as well. “There’s a lot of different technologies that we’re considering for the Frontier. It may be all-gas. It may be diesel. It may be a hybrid. There’s so many things we’re looking at right now,” Diaz said.
Nissan had stopped marketing the Frontier and saw sales slump. Dealers told Nissan to stop building V-6 models and instead building four-cylinder. Sales jumped. Now Nissan is looking at what they need to do to keep the Frontier relevant.