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Nissan is clearly targeting Chrysler with the 2016 Titan Diesel

The 2016 Nissan Titan Diesel, likely to unveil in Detroit this January, is aimed at a specific part of the pickup buying market and shows that Nissan is clearly targeting Chrysler's market share.


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.

DON'T MISS: 2016 Nissan Titan, 5 Things to Expect

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.

Next, we look at who's running the show. Diaz, a former Ram Truck and Chrysler executive, is now a top dog at Nissan. He made the move to Tennessee just before the Titan was revealed to (finally) be going through a major revamp - one that, we've learned, is basically from the ground up with little of the old truck remaining. Coincidence?

Putting the bacon bits on top of this salad, we see CEO Carlos Ghosn clearly demanding that Nissan grow, and fast; and do so in the American market specifically. More bits come when we look at the huge amount of capacity and flexibility Nissan has created for its manufacturing here. Then we get our ranch dressing when we look at commercial vehicles and how fast and hard Nissan hit that market with its NV2500 and NV200 vans and the very open-ended way they've talked about getting heavier in that arena.

For Nissan to take more of the American market, they'll need to target every one of the segments it has and so far, they're doing just that. With few exceptions, Nissan has become a dominant figure in all segments but two: full-sized pickup trucks and heavy-duty commercial vehicles. The latter will come sometime in the near future, we think, as everything is falling into place to allow Nissan to get into HD vehicles. The former is coming fast thanks to the Titan, which will be Nissan's biggest reveal next year and will likely take center stage for months in aggressive marketing just before it enters showrooms.

Currently, the fastest-grower in the light-duty pickup truck market is Ram Trucks, who've been offering compelling versions of the Ram 1500 and heavily marketing them. For the Titan to gain popularity and share, Nissan will have to target not just the overall light- and even some medium-duty pickup truck market, but will have to cut into Ram's growth to do it.

If the new 2016 Nissan Titan is all its expected to be, Chrysler may have a lot to worry about.


Robert C (not verified)    July 16, 2014 - 12:39PM

Nissan is moving too slow. Ram/Chrysler has already taken the lead. Nissan would need to launch something immediately to catch up. The Nissan 13/17 on their V8 line up is industry worst. Test drove the Ram diesel and liked it but looking for a smaller truck, wish they had the Ram diesel in regular cab with interior upgrade. I don't need a four door but want the diesel and want an upgraded interior. Ram needs more options.

Robert C (not verified)    July 17, 2014 - 12:27PM

In reply to by Robert C (not verified)

I guess I didn't give Nissan enough love in my first comment. I own a Nissan Altima car and it is terrific vehicle; quality, materials are great and reliability is excellent. I am trying to wait on Nissan to produce the Titan diesel to see what I am going to own. It wont be a GM product--had a couple of work vans and the metal is thin as beer cans, cheap door panels fell apart but had a nice ride. Owned Ford trucks and vans and they are good vehicles but not impressed with their turbo v-6, two notches overall above GM. I test drove a Titan Chrome last week and I liked it but my upper body is wide and my right arm slid off the folding arm rest onto the center console and I am not the only 6 foot tall American, too much dash plastic but otherwise a nice vehicle except for the fuel mileage. If Nissan can get those issues fixed they have a good looking truck. Yes Ram is riding the wave but all waves slow down. I believe Nissan will be pumping out trucks once they get the fuel mileage corrected so quit dragging your feet Nissan.

Aaron Turpen    July 17, 2014 - 4:37PM

In reply to by Robert C (not verified)

Have you looked at the Toyota? I like the new Tundra, though it still has some issues. The interior, though, is great for someone of size (I'm 6'3"). I really like the Ram. Two things to know about the new Titan coming next year: it's totally redesigned inside and out and the two people most in charge of that design are Diaz from Chrysler and a rancher from Idaho. That should tell you the direction they're headed.

Robert C (not verified)    July 17, 2014 - 5:55PM

In reply to by Robert C (not verified)

Yes Aaron, I bought a new 2007 Tundra ESP and it was a great truck. I could pull a 5500 lbs man lift down the road and barely know it was behind me. Mileage was 17/19 and I drove her pretty hard in the city. I regret selling that truck. I don't care for the new front ends on the Tundra but an excellent truck. The only other thing I didn't like was the size = too big for me as my daily driver. If I traveled good luck with a parking garage or the tiny car spaces/limited parking areas. I usually park my vehicles deep in parking lots to keep away from the lazy bums who are scared to walk more than 100 feet to the store. I have health issues but rather keep my vehicle ding free than save a a hundred feet of walking plus we all need the exercise. I heard Toyota talking about jumping on the diesel band wagon too which is interesting. I like the Tacoma too but never test drove her yet. Kind of waiting for the new trucks to hit because I believe the fuel mileage will be kicked up on all of them---Ram has the pressure on. I am ready to buy and I hate to say it but it will probably be foreign. I am all American but the best product that fits my needs wins-period.

Aaron Turpen    July 18, 2014 - 1:51AM

In reply to by Robert C (not verified)

There's no such thing as "foreign" or "domestic" anymore. 7 of the 10 most Made in America cars were Honda and Toyota vehicles. Nissan builds its trucks in Mississippi, Toyota in Texas, Ford in Dearborn, etc. I don't bother with "foreign" and "domestic" labels anymore.

Todd (not verified)    January 24, 2015 - 4:27PM

In reply to by Robert C (not verified)

If diesel is what you want and mileage is what you're after you can't beat the Chevrolet Cruze Turbo Diesel. Yes, it's a car, and yes, it's limited on space, especially in the trunk. There's no spare tire in the trunk because they put the DEF tank in that hole, but at over 50 mpg on the freeway and power to top Donner Pass faster than the law allows you get over that really fast.

con (not verified)    July 17, 2014 - 4:42AM

Yea . Good luck with that. Ram is gaining on ford and almost eclipsed GM on quality in their trucks and if you think nissan will take any market from ram then dream onn. The biased BS that comes from some publications is just incredible. You want proof checkout chryslers sales records and you will see people want cars and trucks with room and power and not buzz boxes that cant run out of their own way.

Aaron Turpen    July 17, 2014 - 12:06PM

In reply to by con (not verified)

Apparently you didn't read anything but the headline of this article. The new Titan unveils in January. With a 5.0L V8 Cummins. I think maybe it's you who's biased, since the number one vehicles sold in this country aren't Chrysler products and Chrysler still has a serious lag in car sales. Which, again, if you'd actually read more than the headline here, you'd know.

con perdikooris (not verified)    July 17, 2014 - 8:10PM

In reply to by Aaron Turpen

Yes I am biased and I am sick of every one and their dog taking a crack Chrysler and yes I have read the article but to say they will beat ram at selling a product that its clearly excels in is wishfull thinking at best. Take a look at the market share Chrysler has now compared to a few years ago. Im not disputing the cummins deisel capability but it still needs a decent chassis around it.

Aaron Turpen    July 18, 2014 - 1:54AM

In reply to by con perdikooris (not verified)

Nowhere does the article say it will "beat" the Ram. It says it will take market share from it while Nissan as a whole takes or blocks share gains by Chrysler as a whole. Again, read beyond the headline. Chrysler's shares have mostly come from lost shares at GM and Ford and mostly through truck and SUV sales, not cars. Again, a point made in the article. Chrysler-Fiat is weak in cars and will have to concentrate on them in order to meet CAFE requirements, which means they'll have to take resources away from trucks and SUVs. Once more, something that was spelled out in the article you didn't read.

motoman00 (not verified)    August 5, 2014 - 10:37PM

In reply to by con (not verified)

Anyone with negative reservations about the Nissan Titan is not a truck owner. Why are you concerned with fuel economy, its a truck. Other than that petty argument, I'll take on any truck with my Titan. And now it's coming with a diesel, yep I'll be at the dealership the day it arrives. I'll never own anything but a Nissan.

Matt Dievendorf (not verified)    August 10, 2014 - 6:21AM

In reply to by motoman00 (not verified)

I traded in a 2010 silverado after having it 6 months for a nissan titan in early 2010. I had the truck for 3 years with no problems. Always got me where ever i needed to go and then some. Goes down the road like a bat out of hell and it looked mean. Reliable truck, Forget about gas mileage thou. A trucks a truck.

Robert C (not verified)    August 11, 2014 - 9:31AM

In reply to by Matt Dievendorf (not verified)

A trucks a truck does not explain why Nissan only sold 10,000 units last year, fuel mileage does. Fuel mileage is the heart of the issue unless someone has a free gas card. Nissan will get it together. Nissan should hire me as a consultant. I think manufacturers get into these tight little inner circles and mess their product up sometimes. It is really smart to poll the general market who are the buyers with the cash.

Robert C (not verified)    August 11, 2014 - 11:00AM

In reply to by Matt Dievendorf (not verified)

A trucks a truck does not explain why Nissan only sold 10,000 units last year, fuel mileage does. Fuel mileage is the heart of the issue unless someone has a free gas card. Nissan will get it together. Nissan should hire me as a consultant. I think manufacturers get into these tight little inner circles and mess their product up sometimes. It is really smart to poll the general market who are the buyers with the cash.

Scott (not verified)    September 10, 2014 - 10:56AM

In reply to by motoman00 (not verified)

I am now on my second Nissan Titan and can tell you that the 13mpg the Titan gets is a real concern. I drive mine daily to work and it costs me $$ on a daily basis without having any real additional capability over the trucks that get better fuel economy. I love many of the features on the Titan like the factory bedliner coating, intergrated tie down tracks, dampened tailgate, lock box at the rear of the bed, but poor fuel economy and marginal braking capability are issues. The current Titan is outdated and tired.

Robert C (not verified)    September 10, 2014 - 2:24PM

In reply to by Scott (not verified)

If Nissan would listen to the public who are the buyers they would be smart. They need to get that diesel into production in the work vans where the mileage does not count and get the bugs worked out and mileage dialed in. If Nissan makes changes to all the little suggestions that the buyers know are weak and corrects them they are back in business.. This isn't brain surgery, give the buyers what they want and will buy. Nissan needs to poll the general truck buying public on a website of what is important to us. Get something comparable in mileage to RAM if even possible and release it. Don't mess with the body lines. I don't know why manufacturers think they have to keep on changing body lines when the big stuff is quality, reliability, mileage, materials, ride, braking, infotainment. My point is if you got a good looking truck don't screw that up. Work on refinement of the Titan.

ted (not verified)    October 21, 2014 - 4:56PM

In reply to by con (not verified)

I have had them all and after 11 Toyota products I would NEVER go back to any other brand , amazing product albeit not the most cutting edge but bank vault solid and never a problem in any of them and their customer is beyond reproach! The last crapco mopar I bought the first time I took it back for one of many problems I was told ( that's the nature of the beast) I was on the job site recently and a guy pulled in with a dodge ram 2500 diesel , I asked him how he liked it and his reply was " great motor installed in a trash can ! My wife had CHEEP compass when we met bought new in 09' by 2011 it had gone thru 4 sets of brakes a radiator and 2 wiper arms, not to mention it sounded like it was going to rattle apart at any moment, needles to say it has been replaced by .................... wait for it , a 2012 Rav 4 limited AWD V6 .............RAM that !!

Dan (not verified)    July 18, 2014 - 3:18PM

What I would love to see is this power train migrate to the Armada. There are no diesel large sport utilities and having one with 20+ mpg would fill a big hole in those of us who drive our utes every day to work and use the extra seats to strap in the Grandkids to go camp on the weekend.

Aaron Turpen    July 18, 2014 - 4:54PM

In reply to by Dan (not verified)

I think we'll see that soon. The pickups are the test bed for this sort of thing. The Jeep Grand Cherokee kind of broke the ice on that, though, so I think that Nissan having access to the 3.0L and 5.0L Cummins engines will mean they start showing up in several models over the next few years.

Derek White (not verified)    July 18, 2014 - 4:45PM

I may be wrong, n I'm not being biased toward and make or model, but I just don't believe the market will be there for the nissan. Myself personally, to buy a diesel in a half ton truck, the decision would be primarily based on good power AND fuel milage. The dodge eco has both of those. Unless something changes, the titan will be lagging in fuel milage. though awesome power I'm sure...but, there again, if I'm looking for power, I'm looking also for a TRUCK. 3/4 minimum or a 1 ton. I own a 350 and a 2500 ram, both diesels. Plenty of power, and speaking on the 5.9 cummins, pretty great fuel mileage. N all I'm saying is, that being someone who would be, typically, the targeted market for this truck, I would not be interested. Why buy the nissan when the dodge gets better milage n had more than enough power for a 1/2 ton truck? N if nissan plans to beef up the titan a bit to compete in even, say, 3/4 ton class trucks for the workin man, then why buy a comparably puny 300hp/550ft lb truck when I can get a 440hp/860fb ford powerstroke? I just don't believe the market will be there for an 'in between' though I have been wrong before....once...Lol

Aaron Turpen    July 18, 2014 - 6:05PM

In reply to by Derek White (not verified)

The intended market for the half-ton Titan Diesel with all that power is pretty robust, I think. I happen to live in the middle of it. It's the trailer-towing market that doesn't need the heavy-duty aspects of a 3/4 ton or 1-ton truck, just the towing capacity. That means horses, cattle, equipment, etc. These trailers rarely have tongue weights exceeding a half ton pickup's carrying capacity. A half-ton truck capable of pulling those loads would have far higher fuel efficiency than a 3/4 or 1-ton truck with the same load because the inherent weight differences in trucks and powertrain efficiencies would be in favor of the half-ton. With today's half-ton trucks being capable of carrying 3-5 tons of actual cargo, it's not a stretch to see what the goal is here.

Also, the 5.0L sits right between the 3.0L engine offering from Ram and the smallest of the diesels offered in 3/4-ton trucks now.

Trevor (not verified)    July 23, 2014 - 7:19PM

In reply to by Derek White (not verified)

240 horsepower is not " good power". It is pathetic, and ushers in the only revamped modern pickup with an over 9 second 0-60 time. Fine for folks who want mileage and not in a hurry, but not very desirable for towing even a small travel trailer. Passing, accelerating, and climbing grades will be a chore, although the torque will lend a feeling of effortlessness in situations where it is adequate. Fact is any of the current base V6's will outperform it in every way, and absolutely blow it away in with regards to operating cost. Good luck recouping $4000 for the Fiat / Diesel option.

didi (not verified)    July 30, 2014 - 7:00PM

In reply to by Trevor (not verified)

Ram's draw is mpg as well as smooth operation air suspended
due to it having coil springs in the back it can't haul heavy loads or tow heavy loads or else
those springs and shocks will wear out fast
people are buying them up fast but they will regret it
for me Titan towers over ram

Robert C (not verified)    August 15, 2014 - 1:01PM

In reply to by Jim Edmister (not verified)

Too many Rams, the market is saturated, I heard they are going to start giving them away with Obama funny money. Nissan has a good chance to hit a home run if they would only call me up and get the secret.
Ram is overbought and time for consolidation. Rams next move should be to reenter into the mid size market or get that Jeep truck on the road. Jam that diesel into the Wrangler and capture those sales too. But you know, nobody ever listens to me until it's too late then they come for advice--after the crying. Nissan better quit dragging their feet too, they are losing market share by delaying release of their new diesel trucks.

RedFoley (not verified)    September 23, 2014 - 11:24AM

In reply to by Robert C (not verified)

I'm sure that Titan fully realizes they are playing catchup and they are way late to the table. But this was not because of lack of planning and foresight. If you recall, Nissan had entered into an agreement with Chrsysler before the latest economic downturn to have Chrysler design and build a new Titan line for the 2010 or thereabouts model year. But with the recession and the auto industry almost failing in 2008, Chrysler pulled out of their agreement and so Nissan had to start from scratch and hence why they are so late in offering this new line. They had gutted their entire truck team (engineers and designers) because they were going to rely on Chrysler for their redesigned Titan. Now that they had to rebuild an entire team and redesign a whole new Titan line with different technology, it was only inevitable that it take awhile. Just didn't realize it would take so long, but I would rather they take their time and put out a top notch line than half-ass it and put out generic crap.

Robert C (not verified)    September 23, 2014 - 1:24PM

In reply to by RedFoley (not verified)

Nissan will not put out generic crap, they build quality vehicles. Where Nissan have failed is staying in there own small circle just like all the auto makers. They get together and convince themselves they have the next great thing without consulting me first. The first thing they should do is hire me but my phone is not ringing yet. They should build and maintain a website of truck enthusiasts and keep polling us till we are blue in the face, that is what will give them a product that meets broad expectations. I spend probably as much time looking and thinking about trucks as they do--maybe. So get my email address from Torque News Nissan and put me to work--I have skills.

Here is another idea for my new truck. I have commented on this forum about not enlarging the truck and keeping the body panels as is for now. But what I have noticed is that guys that really use the bed of their truck like it low so they can access it from the sides. If you pop your tailgate and it only comes down to your nopples then you are either too short or the truck is too tall to work from the bed.

Nissan do not be swayed by what everyone is doing, be your own brand. I could clunk down 55K for a loaded Ram ECO but I am holding out for you. Please call me I need a job, semi retired electrical contractor--very hard worker. OK that is all the begging for now. Nissan you are still a player--hang in there.

Dave Suton (not verified)    December 15, 2014 - 8:26AM

In reply to by Robert C (not verified)

If you're an electrical contractor, I would never hire you. If you think Nissan is a great brand, than you're pretty stupid to begin with.