The second-generation truck was launched in Canada with insufficient incentive support, Patterson said.
"We launched this vehicle with a $75,000 truck, trying to break into a market that is owned by a $40,000 [Ford] F-150," he said. "We needed to compete on price, and we never were able to put on the programs that were necessary. We needed aggressive lease payments."
For Nissan, the Titan was "greatly unprofitable" in Canada, dealer O'Neill said.
"We just never got the traction that that truck should have gotten," he said. "We had the best warranty in the business."
As in the U.S., Nissan has struggled against the Detroit 3 brands that have a combined 96.5 percent share of the full-size pickup market in Canada.
Convincing pickup buyers to even consider the Titan was a slog, O'Neill said. "I got volumes that the factory was very pleased with out of my stores," he said. "But I never got the volumes out of them that I was pleased with."
Retail prospects for the pickup look bleak in the U.S., too.
In the first six months of the year, the Titan eked out only a 1.2 percent share of the full-size pickup segment, with sales of 12,196. Its main rival, the Toyota Tundra, secured a 4.7 percent share, selling four times the Titan's volume.
It wasn't supposed to be this way.
When it launched in 2003, the Titan was Nissan's ambitious effort to rise as an alternative to the domestic truck goliaths. But it sputtered from the start, even as Nissan was trying to convince the world it could build a full-size pickup.
Early on, the Titan faced technical problems and manufacturing quality issues.
The problems were exacerbated by insufficient investment in marketing needed to build awareness for the new model, a former Nissan executive said last week. As a result, U.S. sales of the Titan have tumbled since peaking at 86,945 units in 2005.
Without sufficient volume to spread development and production costs over, Nissan struggled to reinvest in the Titan at a pace needed to effectively compete in the cutthroat segment.
"Nissan is competing with brands that are building 700,000 full-size pickups a year," the former Nissan exec said. "Nissan has struggled to keep up."
The Titan was expected to have a six- to seven-year life cycle, but that got stretched to 12 years, the executive said. Nissan had planned to launch a heavy-duty variant of the original Titan, but that was nixed in 2005.
"The Titan just languished for a decade," the source said.
In late 2015, Nissan introduced a powerful Cummins V-8 turbodiesel engine option. At the time, Nissan executives and planners believed it would give the Titan workhorse respectability and put Nissan onto serious pickup users' consideration lists.
But four years later, Nissan abandoned the diesel engine Titan XD and eliminated other Titan configurations, including its single-cab models. Nissan described the move as an effort to prioritize resources.