SAN FRANCISCO -- Nissan Motor Corp. startled many auto industry observers last week when it said it envisioned the redesigned 2016 Titan capturing 5 percent of the U.S. full-size pickup market.
But Nissan’s U.S. boss, Jose Munoz, says 5 percent might be on the low side.
“I would say ‘more than 5 percent,’” clarified Munoz, chairman of Nissan North America. “Five percent is the basis for our investment. Less than that would be considered by us as not very successful. Anything more than that would be good.”
Munoz commented on the Titan sales target late Thursday after he spoke at the J.D. Power Automotive Summit.
“I would say this a modest aspiration,” Munoz told the audience.
Nissan sold fewer than 13,000 Titans last year, even as the pickup truck market expanded as the economy grew and, in part, because of falling gas prices. A 5 percent share of the 2014 full-size pickup market would translate to about 120,000 sales.
Munoz told the audience that Nissan is looking for roughly 100,000 Titan sales. In the first two years of U.S. sales for the outgoing Titan, 2004 and 2005, Nissan sold approximately 85,000 Titans. Its sales have dwindled since then for a variety of reasons -- not least of which was the simple lack of a fresh replacement model until now.
But Nissan has redesigned the truck for 2016 to appeal to a wider spectrum of buyers starting late this year, Munoz said. While the first-generation Titan relied on only one engine offering, the new version will offer more engine and cab configurations, including a turbocharged V-8 Cummins diesel engine.
“We sold about 100,000 with only 55 percent of segment coverage, with less engines,” Munoz reasoned, referring the Titan’s 2004-05 success. “Now we’re going to cover 90 percent of the market.
“We’re very bullish.”
Munoz says the truck production line in Canton, Miss., has been tooled to be flexible enough to boost output should sales climb beyond a share of 5 percent.
“We know that the full-sized pickup truck segment in America is a very competitive one,” Munoz says, “and we know we’re not the best in that segment.
“I’m challenging myself. I always think we can do more.”