Nissan to Discontinue Pickup Sales

For years, Nissan has been vowing to change the American full-size pickup market with a vehicle that challenges Ford, Ram and Chevrolet.  However, Nissan told its U.S. dealers last week that it will discontinue sales of the Titan XD and other Titan configurations such as single-cab models.

Nissan planners and executives said Nissan’s first-generation Titan in 2003 was a low-volume affair because the nameplate lacked key variations for serious truck buyers.  Without options like V-8 diesel, Nissan would not be a contender for pickup cross-shopping.

In the United States, pickup sales have been growing.  For the past six months, the Titan only took 1.5% share of the full size pickup segment, with 18,026 sales. That is a decline of over 23 percent from last year. Ford however, sold 448,398 full-size pickups entering June.

There is a perception that full-size pickup buyers typically buy American brands. In a letter last week to Nissan retailers obtained, Nissan Division Vice President Billy Hayes said Nissan remains committed to the full-size pickup market.

“We are simplifying the Titan lineup to focus our efforts on models that maximize opportunities to attract retail customers in the market for a full-size truck,” Hayes said. “With a stronger, more focused lineup, we can maximize the impact of the investment we are making.”

He told retailers Nissan will unveil “a dramatically refreshed Titan” at the Texas state fair in September and reveal “a new Titan XD” later in the fall.

Volkswagen and General Motors Rid Their Line of Hybrid Vehicles, Toyota and Ford Plan to Keep Hybrids

For over two decades, auto makers have used hybrid vehicles as a means to help them comply with regulations on fuel consumption and give customers green buying options. Now, Volkswagen and General Motors say they see no future for hybrids in their U.S. lineups.  Both companies are changing the majority of their future investment to fully electric cars rather than hybrids fueled by a gasoline engine and an electric motor.  The companies feel the hybrid is only a “stopgap” to meeting upcoming tailpipe-emissions requirements in Europe and China.

General Motors plans to launch over twenty fully electric vehicles world-wide in the next four years, including several plug-in models in the United States, specifically for Cadillac and Chevy brands. Volkswagen has also committed to producing more battery-powered models, including a small plug-in SUV and an electric version of its minibus in 2022.

“If I had a dollar more to invest, would I spend it on a hybrid? Or would I spend it on the answer that we all know is going to happen, and get there faster and better than anybody else?” GM President Mark Reuss said in an interview.

Toyota and Ford are continuing their work on hybrids, rather than fully electric vehicles.  Last week, Continental AG , one of the world’s biggest car-parts makers, said it would cut investment in conventional engine parts because of a faster-than-expected fall in demand. Both Ford and Toyota have made hybrids a core party of their future plans for all markets.

Ford announced that they even have plans to add hybrid versions of popular models such as the F-150 pickup truck and the Ford Explorer in an effort to increase fuel economy in the near-term, while developing fully electric vehicles in the long-term. However, many auto companies typically lose money on each electric car they sell due to the high cost of lithium-ion batteries.  Lack of places to plug-in as well as battery range have both bee concerns of buyers considering electric vehicles.  Many analysts have reported that those two factors have made all-electric cars a risky investment and strategy for automakers.