Nissan's big vision: Titan rolling into global markets

Offering the Nissan Titan in global markets would challenge the longstanding industry wisdom that full-size pickups are too big and powerful for the crowded cities and narrow roads of the world at large.

TOKYO — Nissan Motor Co. will attempt to introduce its full-size American-made Titan pickup into new markets around the world.

Among the possible target markets: China, Australia, the Middle East and Russia.

The effort would challenge the longstanding industry wisdom that full-size pickups are creatures of North America and simply too big and powerful for the crowded cities and narrow roads of the world at large.

“We are now looking at other markets where we can introduce the full-size pickup,” said Ashwani Gupta, senior vice president of the Renault-Nissan Alliance’s light-commercial business unit, speaking to journalists here before the start of the Tokyo Motor Show. “That market is really growing.”

Gupta did not divulge details of the plan. But he said the Mississippi-built Titan is one of a number of light trucks that Renault-Nissan believes can deliver bigger sales on a global scale in the coming years.

It is also planning to broaden sales channels for Nissan’s smaller pickups and for vans made by both Nissan and Renault.

One hint to Nissan’s strategy is that the Titan — designed and developed for North American consumers — is now counted as a member of the Renault-Nissan Alliance LCV unit, which includes delivery vans and other commercial vehicles.

Rather than simply trying to appeal to individual truck-loving consumers around the world, company strategists envision pitching the Titan to commercial users. That approach would count heavily on contractors in China, Australia and the Middle East buying the pickups for use in big construction projects and public-sector activities.

In pickup-friendly U.S.A., Nissan has its hands full trying to break into the Detroit 3-dominated segment. Nissan has been focusing most of its marketing dollars and distribution efforts so far on selected U.S. markets and regions. Through the end of September this year, Nissan sold 35,549 Titans, a fraction of the 658,636 F-series pickups sold by Ford Motor Co. during the same period.

But Nissan’s results represent a 224 percent increase from the same period a year ago, making the Titan one of the fastest growing products in the U.S. market.

The Renault-Nissan Alliance also has ambitions of fanning sales of Nissan’s smaller global pickup platform, known outside the United States as the Navara, which is slightly smaller than Nissan’s midsize U.S. pickup, the Frontier.

Nissan just launched Navara sales in China.

Nissan also is preparing to produce both a Renault version of the Navara as well as a version for Mercedes-Benz.

Also in the mix now for the Alliance is an even smaller pickup produced by Mitsubishi, the Triton.

Renault and Nissan want to speed up the process of integrating Mitsubishi into their global platform-sharing plans, and the Triton offers some potential at the small end of the pickup segment.

The Triton, built in Thailand and not sold in the United States, could offer Nissan and Renault entrée into truck selling in emerging markets.

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