Nissan will send U.S.-built pickups to China

Automotive News

Automotive News | 2017-11-21

Nissan Motor Co. will export the U.S.-built Titan pickup to China, where it hopes to gain a foothold in the market's robust commercial and construction segments while satisfying growing consumer demand for American-style pickups.

Nissan wants to find new markets for the full-size Titan, which has been dwarfed in the critical U.S. market by its Detroit 3 competitors and Toyota. 

In the first 10 months, Titan sales in the United States have jumped 180 percent to 39,663 vehicles, but that amounts to three weeks¡¯ worth of sales for the top-selling Ford F-series pickup. For the year to date, the Titan had only a 1.7 percent share of the U.S. full-size pickup market.

Nissan North America Chairman Jose Munoz said the company decided to export Titans to China to satisfy Nissan's eager Chinese dealers. 

"The Chinese look very much to the United States and they see pickups driving families here," Munoz said during a visit to Automotive News on Friday. "They asked, ¡®Why don't we have those pickups here?¡¯" 

Nissan did not say what the initial export volumes would be. But Munoz noted that there is not too much available production capacity in Nissan¡¯s assembly plant in Canton, Miss.  

¡°Our aspirations are to get about 5 percent in this segment,¡± Munoz said. 

Meanwhile, he said Nissan North America is getting more requests to ship the Titan to other global markets. 

That meshes with the strategic plans of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, which plans to tap growth in China, Russia, India and Brazil over the next several years, according to alliance CEO Carlos Ghosn. 

The Titan is only one of the group's new export vehicles, according to Ashwani Gupta, senior vice president of the alliance's light commercial business unit. 

Nissan also has launched sales in China of the Navara pickup, a slightly smaller truck than the U.S.-market Frontier. The automaker plans to produce both a Renault version of the Navara as well as a version for Mercedes-Benz.

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