The product is good but sales are down. What to do?
There’s one thing you need to know about the current generation Nissan Titan: it’s an excellent full-size pickup truck with one big problem: Detroit. All three of its main competitors, the Chevrolet Silverado, Ford F-150, and Ram 1500 originate in the Motor City and for decades those three vehicles have dominated the segment. Trucks like the Nissan Titan often struggle to stay afloat.
Even the also well-regarded Toyota Tundra can’t fully compete against those trucks from Detroit. Because of their market dominance, Nissan has decided to reduce Titan production at its Canton, Mississippi plant, according to Automotive News. Unfortunately, up to 700 contract employees could be idled as a result and it’s not only the Titan that’ll be seeing reduced production. The NV commercial van is also experiencing slow sales.
Beginning on February 22, the production line that builds both the Titan and mid-size Frontier truck will be reduced from three to two shifts. And yes, the Frontier, as we previously reported, experienced increased sales last year while Titan sales dropped.
"When you look at where the market demand is and where we are seeing sales for the next year, particularly on NV and on Titan, we are just trying to make sure our production is aligned,” Nissan spokesman Brian Brockman said. "We feel with the single-shift pattern on vans and the two-shift pattern on the trucks that we can satisfy the market demand.” The 2018 figures explain a lot: Titan sales dropped by 4.7 percent while NV sales dipped by 5.4 percent.
Meanwhile, Frontier sales increased by 7.1 percent. So why is Frontier production also being reduced? It likely boils down to sales projections. The Frontier, launched in 2005, is one of the oldest vehicles on sale today and it’ll be facing even more competition now that the Ford Ranger has gone on sale. Conveniently enough, the next-generation Frontier will also be built at this same factory beginning at a so far unknown date. But the main issue at hand is the Titan, the latest model having only launched in 2016. In 2018 it accounted for only 2.1 percent market share of the full-size truck segment.
"The product is solid,” said Nissan product planning chief Jared Haslam. "The challenge is, from a product perspective, everybody else is really good, too.” What can Nissan do? It comes down to better marketing and for Nissan to build the right Titan configurations that sell the most.