Problems that Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. had with the launch of its much-hyped '04 Titan fullsize pickup truck are being fixed, according to Jed Connelly, Nissan senior vice president-sales and marketing.

He says the truck's rollout, by design, front-loaded dealers with seven to 10 vehicles on Dec. 3 in 17 key markets, including Phoenix, Atlanta and Miami — leaving other markets with none.

Nissan aimed for the bulk of its dealers to have Titans on their lots by year's end.

“I will be the first to tell you that by the end of the calendar year, unfortunately, there were some dealers who hadn't gotten their first truck yet,” Connelly says. “But, that's all taking place now.”

A new Mississippi plant now is building Titans at full speed, and all dealers by mid-January were to have what Connelly terms a reasonable supply. About 4,000 units were shipped to some of Nissan's 1,100 dealers in December, while 8,000 units were to be shipped in January.

Connelly says it likely will be February or March before all dealers get a full stream of Titans.

“I feel bad about that, but it was one of those things where we wanted to get an early feel for the truck, and how people were buying it,” he says. “The best way to do that was to ship to some of the key markets.” Early indicators have been positive, with a richer content mix, leaning more towards the more expensive crew-cab models than anticipated, he says.

The initial response to Titan also has nudged demand for the Pathfinder Armada, Nissan's new fullsize SUV, built on the same platform as Titan. “It's really hitting its stride now that Titan is out there,” he says‥

Of concern has been the launch of the all-new Quest minivan. Sales have been slower than expected since its debut last fall.

Connelly blames less-than-steller Quest sales on timing (fall is a less favorable period than spring or summer for a vehicle launch) as well as vehicle-mix and advertising issues.

Nissan in December sold 3,800 Quests. The initial sales target was 5,000, the eventual target 6,500.

“It's not where we'd like it to be, but we can get it where it needs to be,” he says.