Nissan Abandons Heavy Duty Titan Plan

By: RyanThomas

The Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. has abandoned its plans to build heavy duty Titan trucks. This information was divulged by Autoweek. The automaker had been contemplating on bringing three-quarter and one-ton models to the market in 2009 or 2010. But the plan is now held in abeyance and is likely to be scrapped.

Carlos Tavares, the product development chief of the automaker, said that the company decided that at least for the time being, the cost of developing the necessary components to field a heavy-duty truck was not worth the potential return, especially considering the potential volatility of today's truck market due to the ever-increasing gas prices.

A heavy duty version of the Nissan Titan would necessitate a unique and beefed up body to handle the increased payloads and towing capacity. Analysts in the industry say that with the rising gas prices, an automaker could not help but ponder on fuel-efficiency before coming up with a new vehicle or variant. Nonetheless, the most influential factor that could affect the scrapping of the plan is the low sales projection which is the sum of all negative factors.

While highly financially rewarding, the heavy duty truck segment is highly competitive and dominated by Ford, GM and Dodge. Hence, a new market entry requires a huge investment to develop dedicated platforms and powertrains. For the automaker to be able to break in, it must be able to invest heavily on , large diesel engines and heavy duty transmissions.

The Toyota Motor Corp., the only other Japanese automaker in the full-size truck market, has also reportedly put its plans for a heavy-duty variant of the Tundra on hold indefinitely.

Nissan also intends to discard one or more of its truck-based sport utility vehicles to the graveyard. The automaker is currently building four body-on-frame SUVs - the Xterra, Pathfinder, Armada and its Infiniti sibling, the QX56. The discontinued SUVs are expected to be replaced with unibody crossovers. But the automaker did not give a target date for its release.

The automaker also will abandon some of its body-on-frame SUVs and would be replacing them with lighter and more fuel-efficient crossovers. The Infiniti QX56 and the Nissan Pathfinder and Armada use body-on-frame construction.

"Not all but part of the SUVs are going to shift to monoque, unibody," Carlos Tavares, Nissan's product development boss, said in an interview at the auto show here. No timetable was given. "We suspended our heavy-duty truck program because, from a business perspective, we thought that the risk was too high," Tavares added.

A heavy-duty pickup requires a dedicated frame, suspension and transmission to handle higher weight loads, Tavares said. A diesel engine would be mandatory. "If the market is so-so, you could lose a lot of money. There are a lot of places in the world where we can spend our money." "Maybe," Tavares said, "we don't have to do that one." No timetable was given for a decision.

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