Japanese automakers have pretty much ruled the U.S. auto market for the past 30 years or so. Even with all that success, there remains one segment they haven’t been able to crack: full-size trucks.
When it comes to strength and brawn, the Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado, and Dodge Ram have seen the vast majority of American full-size truck buyers. If the Toyota Tundra has managed to make a small dent in the American armor, the Nissan Titan has barely been a rock chip.
Neither vehicle has captured the hearts of truck owners the way Japanese midsize sedans and SUVs have siphoned customers away from the Detroit Big 3.
I say it’s time for the Japanese automakers to just admit defeat and get out of the full-size truck segment altogether. I thought for a while Nissan was smartly going in that direction, when its plans to share a platform for the Titan with the Dodge Ram sank with Chrysler’s bankruptcy.
Now, though, there is news that Nissan has decided to keep the Titan for the foreseeable future. Carlos Tavares, Nissan Executive Vice President, told Straightline,
We didn’t consider stopping. When the Chrysler deal fell through, we immediately started on a truck of our own. We are committed to this market. We recognize that it’s an important part of this market, so we are not going to step out.
The rough translation of that: The truck market is very profitable, and we want a piece of the pie.
It’s probably safe to assume that the next Titan will share architecture with Nissan’s recently unveiled line of commercial vehicles, the NV2500. That van is built in the same Canton, Mississippi, plant as the Titan, so it stands to reason that’s where Nissan looked when the Dodge deal collapsed.
I don’t think it’s worth the effort, though. Full-size pickups are distinctly American beasts, and no one seems to understand them like the domestic automakers. Even I, a longtime supporter of Toyota trucks and foreign vehicles in general, think it’s time for the Japanese to focus their efforts where they can be most successful. It’s time for them to bail on the full-size truck fantasy.
Do you think the Tundra and Titan are as good as Ford, Chevy, and Dodge trucks? Can Japanese automakers ever be competitive in the full-size truck segment or should they bail?