In the end, the Nissan Titan was more Titanic than Titan when it came to competing against the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado and Ram 1500.
Nissan spokesman Brian Brockman confirms that the pickup truck launched in 2003 with much hope and fanfare will be discontinued after the 2024 model year.
Titan is manufactured at the Japanese automaker’s Canton, MS, plant, which is being retooled for electrified vehicles. No job losses at the plant are anticipated.
The reasons for the cancellations are obvious. Despite Nissan’s high hopes for the Titan to sell between 100,000-200,000 a year when it launched the truck during the first George W. Bush administration, it failed to sway very many pickup buyers – fiercely a brand-loyal bunch – or even fleet customers.
A Nissan official told Wards a decade ago that sustaining 100,000 sales of the then-second generation Titan was key to its success, but in the truck's 20-year history sales never crested 87,000, and never sold more than 53,000 per year in the last decade, according to Wards Intelligence data. Titan hit the 53,000 figure in 2017 after the truck got a makeover and before the pandemic killed any momentum. Titan sales in the U.S. tallied just 15,063 units in 2022, down 45% versus the previous year, and 2023’s tally isn’t on track to do much better.
The Titan wasn’t a bad truck, though competitors from Ford, GM and Ram have made more regular improvements. Despite the fact the that the Titan’s chassis was designed to underpin plusher SUVs – the Nissan Armada and Infiniti QX80 – the truck’s road manners were never up to par, nor was the Titan lineup, lacking the plethora of configurations of the Detroit Three models.
Nissan saw the writing on the wall some eight years ago when it was trying to negotiate a deal with then-Ram owner FCA to make the second-generation Titan a rebadged Ram 1500. That deal fell apart, though, with then-FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne saying at the time that such a deal would cheapen the Ram image and make Ram dealers unhappy.
Nissan is not the only fullsize pickup challenger that hasn't conquested much business from the Detroit Three. Though the Toyota Tundra has done better in sales and critical reviews over the years, its volume also hasn’t kept Detroit Three executives up at night. Ford, Chevy, GMC and Stellantis’s Ram pickups provide so much profit to their automakers that each has fiercely guarded their respective market shares ever since Nissan and Toyota launched their challengers.
Nissan enjoyed a brief validation in 2017 when Motor Trend named the redesigned Titan its Truck of The Year, but industry watchers viewed it as benefiting from coming out in an off year for the Detroit Three, which did not have a redesigned truck up for consideration.
Nissan seemingly saw the inevitability of the Titan’s demise when it planned the current-generation Armada and QX80, which are based on the Nissan Patrol off-roader that is sold in other markets like Australia.
With battery-electric-vehicle mandates forcing automakers to make massive investments in electrified vehicles, there was no justification for continued investment in a fullsize pickup line that requires heavy discounting to move off dealer lots. The battle to retain market share in the electric fullsize pickup market among the three Detroit automakers is just as tenacious as the battle for share with internal-combustion-engine (ICE) trucks. Ford is retailing the F-150 Lightning and Chevy now is launching the electric Silverado; Ram next year is releasing its own electric fullsize pickup truck, the Ram REV.
Those wanting to grab one before its gone will pay at least $47,665, including a $1,895 destination charge, for the ’24 Titan. All ’24 Titans are powered by the same 5.6L V-8 rated at 400 hp and 413 lb.-ft. (600 Nm) of torque.
Midsize Trucks A Better Fit
While the Titan is toast, Nissan (and Toyota) traditionally have done much better in the midsize pickup segment.
Nissan’s midsize Frontier saw sales top 76,000 in 2022, likely helped by a ‘22 refresh, The volume placed it mid pack in Wards Intelligence’s Small Pickup segment last year. Toyota’s Tacoma was far and away the 2022 segment leader, with 237,000 deliveries, more than double the volume of the segment's No.2 seller the Chevy Colorado.
Nissan has said it sees potential to grow Frontier’s business as the midsize truck category grows among off-roading enthusiasts.