Nissan is clearly targeting Chrysler with the 2016 Titan Diesel
Market moves and the upcoming showcase of the 2016 Nissan Titan, especially in its diesel form, as well as the quiet downplay of the obvious upcoming changes to the smaller Frontier pickup truck, add up to something. Throw in a few other details and it becomes clear that Nissan is targeting Chrysler's market share.
Chrysler has a problem. That problem is their inability to sell cars in the U.S. Specifically fuel-efficient small and midsize cars. Right now, Chrysler's Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) is one of the lowest in the nation because their sales are primarily in trucks, sport utilities, and sports cars. This is not to say that they aren't fully aware of this and working hard to change it, of course. We recently drove the 2015 Chrysler 200 and had earlier driven the Dodge Dart and were impressed with them both, but so far, consumers aren't flocking to Chrysler for small vehicles. It's going to take a lot of long-term marketing to change that consumer mindset, which seems to view Chrysler, Jeep, Ram, and Dodge as the go-to brands for not-so-fuel-efficient SUVs and trucks.
Seeing weakness, Nissan seems to be aiming to take some of Chrysler's market share, specifically in the pickup truck arena. The new Ram EcoDiesel is a great pickup truck with a lot going for it. Our brief time in it showed it to be an impressive truck with a lot of market potential. So far, it's selling well in its first weeks on the market. It's powered by a 3.0-liter V6 turbo-diesel engine, which is very similar in size and output to the diesel showcased for the Nissan Frontier Desert Runner prototype last year.
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Meanwhile, the planned diesel offering for the big 2016 Nissan Titan Diesel will be a huge V8 Cummins outputting over 300 horses and around 550 lb-ft of torque. A massive set of numbers (read the details we have so far here and here). That plus a lot of other changes hinted at for the new Titan, which will include a more "contractor grade" lower-end offering and trim level changes, all seem to tell us that the new Titan will be far more marketable than the current, dated pickup truck, whose sales have been faltering for some time now.
Meanwhile, let's look at some other happenings at Nissan. First, their small car sales are excellent and have been almost across the board. The Altima, Versa, Juke, and others are seeing solid growth and high sales numbers. Similarly, their midsize and large SUVs are doing well. Overall, Nissan has a powerful lineup of model offerings to aggressively gain shares in the North American market.