Hint: it's not from Detroit.
Ford and General Motors are already making their moves. Ram won't be too far behind. Tesla is set to reveal its own all-electric pickup truck later this week. But what about the Toyota and Nissan, two other players in the highly competitive pickup business? We know Toyota is currently working on a new truck/SUV platform with expected hybrid capabilities, but Nissan's plans remained less known. Until now.
Automotive News spoke with Francois Bailly, Nissan's global head of light commercial vehicles and asked outright about the subject of electric pickups. "Electric is fun to drive - it's fantastic torque, acceleration, quietness, all that are great," Bailly said. "There should not be any compromise in terms of towing, in terms of payload. We need to be able to offer a reasonably priced pickup truck." Nissan, simply put, has no choice in the matter; it's simply where the segment is heading.
Ford's all-electric F-150 could arrive by 2021 while another new player, Michigan-based Rivian, also plans to begin deliveries of its R1T pickup in 2021. But Nissan's approach is slower. "I don't think we are technologically ready to have that no-compromise EV or plug-in hybrid," Bailly confirmed. "I don't want to put a truck on the market with limited payload, limited range, limited towing. The customers will not go for that." He's absolutely correct in that regard. And sometimes taking your time on something as important as this can offer huge payouts in the long run.
Nissan happens to have a joint venture partnership with China's Dongfeng Motor and it has already built a small electric pickup. In other words, it's the perfect starting point. "We want to learn from that," Bailly said referring to the Dongfeng program. Nissan plans to track how owners use the truck and "go from there in choosing the right technology."
In the meantime, Nissan wants to improve sales of its Titan full-size pickup truck, which received a facelift for 2020. At the moment, the Nissan Titan only has around a 1.4 percent market share in the segment, while its chief rival, the Toyota Tundra, has a 4.8 percent share. The Detroit 3 trucks dominate 94 percent of the segment. Nissan is also preparing a next-generation mid-size Frontier, which hasn't been completely redesigned since 2004.