NEW YORK – The collapse of a deal with the formerGroup LLC for a fullsize pickup derived from the Dodge Ram hasn’t dampened Motor Co. Ltd.’s enthusiasm for a new-generation Titan.
Nor has it discouragedfrom wanting to build a medium-duty, diesel-powered Titan.
“We are going into commercial vehicles in North America; it is a good profitable segment and you need to have trucks,” Tom Lane, corporate vice president of product planning and strategy, tells Ward’s in an interview here.
Nissan recently unveiled its first foray into the U.S. commercial-vehicle market, the fullsize NV van that goes on sale later this year and is based on an updated version of the Titan’s F-Alpha platform.
With no other prospective partners in sight, the Japanese auto maker already has said it intends to go it alone with the next-generation Titan. The current pickup debuted in 2003 as an ’04 model.
was to build a Nissan-designed, Ram-based Titan beginning in 2011, but that deal was nixed following the auto maker’s bankruptcy and eventual takeover of management control by Automobile SpA.
It’s unclear if a heavy-duty version of the Titan was part of the pact.
Only the Detroit Three offer diesel-powered, medium-duty (marketed as “heavy-duty”), pickups.
The best seller of the bunch isMotor Co.’s Super Duty line, comprised of the F-250, F-350, F-450 and F-550 models.
Ward’s data showsdelivered 21,115 medium-duty F-Series pickups in the U.S. last year, a 45.9% decline from 39,044 in 2009.
U.S. fullsize pickup sales have shrunk dramatically in recent years, as the slowdown in the housing sector took a bite out of the commercial-use market.
Still, with projections for volumes to bounce back to the 2-million-unit mark by 2015, a level not seen since 2007 and well above 2009’s 1.1 million, Lane believes it makes sense to maintain a market presence.
“It’s a huge, huge segment…so we’re here,” he says. “We have a commitment to make commercial vehicles and trucks work.”
But to do that, Nissan will be faced with the considerable task of developing a competitive medium-duty pickup.
The ’10 Titan (King Cab SE with Premium Utility package) can tow a maximum of 9,500 lbs. (4,309 kg). The ’11 F-450 (4-wheel drive and 6.7L turbodiesel) can lug 16,000 lbs. (7,257 kg), and, fitted with a fifth wheel, the tow rating of the same model skyrockets to 24,400 lbs. (11,068 kg).
The ’11 Super Duty offers two engines, a 6.7L Power Stroke V-8 turbodiesel and 6.2L gasoline V-8.
The diesel churns out 390 hp and a whopping 735 lb.-ft. (997 Nm) of torque, and the gasoline engine makes 385 hp and 405 lb.-ft. (549 Nm) of torque.
The ’10 Titan’s largest powerplant, a 5.6L V-8, produces 317 hp and 385 lb.-ft. (522 Nm) of torque.
A diesel is considered essential in the sector. Ford pegs the take-rate for the Power Stroke in the ‘11 Super Duty lineup at 65%.
Ward’s engine installation data shows 79% of ’09 Ford Super Duty trucks built were fitted with a diesel, the 6.0L V-8 from former supplier Navistar International Corp.
Some 36% of ’09 Chevrolet Silverado 2500s built, and 46.9% of Silverado 3500s, were equipped with diesel engines.
Nissan announced two years ago it would partner with Cummins Inc. for two diesels, but it did not connect either engine to any particular models.
On Wednesday, Nissan and its alliance partnerSA detailed a pact with AG that calls for Daimler to provide diesels to Nissan for its Infiniti luxury models.
Nissan has its own diesel engine, a 3.0L V-6 diesel, generating 235 hp and 406 lb.-ft. (550 Nm) of torque, offered in Western European Infinitis.