After struggling to break into the full-size pickup market for more than a decade, Nissan wants to jump-start sales of its new Titan truck family by offering a five-year, 100,000-mile warranty, leapfrogging rival automakers.
The bumper-to-bumper warranty surpasses the industry standard of a three-year, 36,000-mile guarantee in the pickup truck sales segment.
“This is going to shake up the market,” Phil O'Connor, Nissan’s U.S. truck and sport-utility marketing director, told Trucks.com. “It is going to give buyers a reason to put Titan on their shopping list and give us a serious look.”
The new warranty starts with Nissan’s .
Nissan and fellow Japanese brand Toyota have tried for years to increase sales of big pickup trucks. They have opened factories in the U.S. – Nissan in Mississippi and Toyota in Texas – to avoid tariffs and demonstrate their products are as American as the domestic brands.
But the Asian brands have made little headway. Through the first seven months of this year, Japanese branded full-size pickups accounted for just 6 percent of the nearly 1.3 million trucks sold in that segment this year, according to Autodata Corp., an industry research firm.
Nissan says it wants to grab 5 percent of the market, which would be more than five times its current position. Such a share would require the automaker to sell roughly 100,000 trucks annually. The company has barely sold 7,000 Titans so far this year.
Market leader Ford sold 460,901 F-Series trucks so far this year. General Motors has sold 327,768 Chevrolet Silverados and another 128,894 GMC Sierras. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles sold 271,232 Rams.
“We know we are competing with some very long-standing brands, brands that customers have had relationships with for a very long time,” O'Connor said.
It’s not that Nissan has a reputation for poor reliability, but rather it needs to do something to gain the attention of customers, he said.
“There are just not as many full-size pickup truck buyers who are familiar with the Titan brand and Nissan,” O'Connor said.
In offering a longer warranty, Nissan is following a playbook pioneered by Hyundai.
Plagued by reliability problems and seeing its annual sales dwindle to just 90,000 by 1998, the South Korean automaker considered abandoning the U.S. market. But Hyundai stuck it out. It rebooted the brand with a new warranty program for the 1999 model year that guaranteed the vehicles bumper to bumper for up to 60,000 miles and the powertrains for up to 100,000 miles while it went to work reengineering its cars.
Hyundai sold more than 760,000 vehicles in the U.S. last year and captured a 4.4 percent market share, according to Autodata. Although its quality has improved dramatically, it still offers the long warranty.
Nissan used the long-warranty gambit two years ago, introducing “America’s Best Commercial Van Warranty” – also five years and 100,000 miles – to market its NV and NV200 cargo vans. Sales of the larger NV rose 13.9 percent last year from 2014. NV200 sales jumped 29.4 percent in the same time span.
The warranty initiative comes at a critical time for Nissan’s truck marketing efforts.
The automaker launched sales of its new full-size Titan XD diesel truck this year. It also started manufacturing a gas version of the XD, equipped with a 390-horsepower, 5.6-liter Endurance V-8 engine.
Later this month, Nissan will begin shipping its smaller half-ton Titan — powered by the same 5.6-liter V8 gas engine — to dealers. The redesigned pickup slots in below the XD and is built on a different platform. The Titan will replace the outgoing model, which is 13 years old and even Nissan officials concede is no longer competitive with rival pickup truck models.
The various gas, diesel and cab configurations of the two models have the potential to make Nissan more than a “niche player” in the pickup truck market, O’Connor said.
“We are now targeting the entire segment” he said, “and will cover over 85% of the full-size pickup market.”