Last night we had dinner with Richard Miller, Nissan's product planning guru (it says so right on his card), and we had a great conversation about the truck market and the different strategies truck makers are using to meet customers' needs. Unfortunately, he couldn't get too specific about the next Nissan Titan. Still, we learned a few things.
"We know we have a lot of room to grow, and the next Titan, the one we're working on now, is going to be a big first step," Miller said. "We're looking at making the Titan into something better able to give our customers more of what they want, but that's not always easy."
Miller said some of the more recent focus-group discussions have been very different from the ones just five years ago. "We've heard customers quite often say they don't want to compromise on anything anymore. They want just as much power as they've always had, but they want much better fuel economy; they want better storage solutions, but they don't want to give anything up to get it; and they want all the features, but don't want to pay more."
When asked about the different powertrain technologies floating out there, Miller mentioned he was quite happy for Ford with all the success it is having with the EcoBoost technology. "It's interesting. If Toyota or Nissan or Honda had come to market with that technology, I'm not sure it would have been as universally accepted," he said. "In a way, it's good to have somebody big like Ford out in front changing the tastes and attitudes of truck buyers out there. … If 10 years ago you had told me the number-one-selling half-ton would be more than 50 percent V-6 engine, I would have thought you were crazy."
Continuing on the powertrain theme, Miller said, "Going forward, it's going to be really tough in this segment (full-size pickup truck) to not offer the customer a lot of choice." When asked specifically about a diesel option, Miller said, "It would be a lot easier if one of the big players would step out and let the rest of us see what kind of acceptance it could get, but I'm guessing we'll all have to be ready."
Miller finished by offering a few vague predictions about the next-gen Titan (which we gather is set to be released for the 2015 model year). "Titan fans know we were the first to offer the wide-opening rear door, hidden storage, the spray-in bedliner and in-bed channel track, but when our new truck comes out, we'll be more in line as a major player."