With last week’s announcement that Nissan and Chrysler were scuttling their deal to build the next-generation Titan off the Ram 1500 platform, the question arises: What does Nissan do now?
It’s not an easy answer. Designing and delivering an all-new Titan could take up to three years, but the Titan clearly needs help ASAP. Its sales are off 56.3 percent, year-to-date. Only 11,805 have been sold in 2009. So, if Nissan wants to make a go of the Titan until an all-new Titan arrives, here are 5 things Nissan can do to get the Titan back on track:
No. 1. Employ the Cummins 5.0-liter V-8 Diesel Engine: As Chrysler waffles about whether to use this engine or a Fiat mill in the Ram 1500, and while Ford, GM and Toyota have suspended their light-duty diesel efforts, Nissan should take the opportunity to build a half-ton diesel pickup. The Cummins name is synonymous with capability. Plus, Nissan has rights to this motor for its upcoming line of light commercial vehicles. Bonus: Pair it with ZF's new PowerLine 6-speed automatic transmission to boost efficiency.
No. 2. Add Quadrasteer As An Option: Developed by Delphi for General Motors, the four-wheel steering system revolutionized trailer towing and low-speed maneuverability in full-size pickups but GM's pricing was outrageously high and the company dropped the option because of the low take rate. Sources inside Delphi tell us that Nissan was testing Quadrasteer for the Titan when GM killed the system. It's time to resurrect it as an option and make it a market differentiator.
No. 3. Borrow the Nissan Frontier's V-6: The only engine choice for the Nissan Titan is its 317-horsepower 5.6-liter V-8. Take the 261-hp 4.0-liter V-6 and make it the standard motor for two-wheel drive King Cab models. Oh yeah, and cut the price on that configuration by at least $1,000.
No. 4. Make a Regular Cab: The Titan is only available in King and Crew Cab configurations. Chop off the back of the truck and make an entry-level regular cab work truck version using the V-6 from No. 3.
No. 5. Take a Cold Shower: It's time to wake up the truck marketing and product planning team behind the Titan. Nissan can't get the Titan back in the game unless its truck team has its head there first. The Titan may be the oldest half-ton pickup in the segment but it can still hold its own in key areas. For example, The Titan's 5.6-liter V-8 with 317-hp and 385 pounds-feet of torque is more powerful than the 5.4-liter V-8 in the F-150 with 310 hp and 365 lbs.-ft. of torque. Start marketing the Titan again so we’re reminded that it still exists.