The pickup truck segment is very different from other vehicle categories. In fact, through the years, it has become a North-American cult product.
Even if a large portion of consumers who buy this type of truck needs it for work, a more modest pickup would do the job in most cases. And that doesn’t include people who swing for a pickup, but whose needs could honestly be satisfied with a Toyota Yaris.
This is partly explained by the very low price of oil, but also, and especially because the pickup truck is part of our collective imagination. It’s become a desirable product for many, if not the majority of people. After all, the F-150 is the best-selling vehicle in North America.
That being said, if you pay attention to the sales charts, you’ll notice that Nissan only has a microscopic slice of the cake in the full-size pickup truck segment.
Even if domestic-brand trucks are generally more substantial than Japanese ones in regards to trim levels, luxury features and powertrain choices, the difference isn’t that important to justify such a domination. In my opinion, this perfectly illustrates the cultural aspect of the pickup truck. It’s a love affair between pickups and the U.S. population, in which Canadians like to join in.
Analyzing the situation, Nissan knows it will be difficult to break through such a market with its 2016 Titan, which hasn’t yet been unveiled. Remember, it’s the Titan XD that saw and drove so far.
And yet the Japanese manufacturer carefully hid its Samurai sabre, and is proudly wearing a Stetson instead. Everywhere during the media launch we could read “The new American Titan.” Nissan reminded us countless times that the Titan is built in USA, and even gave its name to the stadium where NFL team Tennessee Titans play.
For now, let’s see how the Titan fares before criticizing or applauding it, but meanwhile, we can nonetheless review the Titan XD’s case. While developing its heavy-duty truck, Nissan realized that trying to rival the Ford F-250 was suicidal, if we rely on its market share in the “regular” full-size pickup truck segment.
Actually, when the folks at Nissan say that customers ask for a pickup that can tow more than 9,000 pounds, but less than 19,000, they make a good point. The Titan XD slides right in between two categories in which the Japanese brand has little chance to shine, not because of the quality of its products, but because of the market segment’s buying habits.
In short, offering a vehicle that has no direct competitors is probably Nissan’s best strategy.