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How Nissan Australia missed the boat with a Ram 1500 rival

Nissan has missed a golden opportunity to join the heavyweight pick-up battle in Australia with its American-made Titan.

As Ram and Chevrolet trucks continue to grow in popularity Down Under, and Ford and Toyota finalise their Australian arrival plans, the stillborn Titan project has finally received its offical Australian death notice.

It comes after more than five years of talk, but little action, on a high-level Nissan commitment to a right-hand drive Titan.

The Titan was first promised to Australia in October 2017 by Ashwani Gupta, then the head of light commercial vehicle operations for the Renault-Nissan Alliance.

“Truck lovers love trucks. We are studying the expansion of the Titan full-size pick-up in other markets outside the US,” said Mr Gupta, speaking to Australian media in Japan.

The idea was strongly supported by the CEO of Nissan Australia at the time, Stephen Lester, although he could never confirm an official engineering plan.

“Our resolve to get it to Australia hasn’t changed. [But] there is no specific timing for us,” Mr Lester said in 2019.

“The story hasn’t changed much. It’s still very much on our radar locally. And we’re keeping it on the global radar.”

But a change of management at Nissan Australia, under new boss Adam Paterson, did not move the needle on Titan, despite Gupta – the last senior survivor from the Carlos Ghosn team that radically reformed Nissan in the early days of the global alliance – moving steadily up the ranks to eventually become the company’s chief operating officer.

While Nissan failed to move, the popularity of full-sized US pickups in Australia continued to grow, with the Walkinshaw Automotive Group in Melbourne developing and implementing right-hand drive conversions for Ram and the Chevrolet Silverado.

Walkinshaw is also responsible for similar work, and production, of the Toyota Tundra towards the end of this year.

Official sales figures from VFACTS show Chevrolet sold 1953 of its Silverado trucks through the first seven months of this year, up from 1170 in 2022, while Ram numbers accelerated from 2998 a year ago to 4534 – a jump of 51.2 per cent – in the same period.

But the crunch was coming for the Titan, as Gupta was ousted by Japanese management on June 19.

His departure was a huge blow and CarExpert immediately contacted Nissan Australia for an official statement on the Titan, but received no reply for more than a month.

There was no reply, either, from Premcar in Melbourne, Nissan’s official partner for its Warrior models and a potential connection for right-hand drive conversion work.

The official silence was eventually broken by Nissan on August 7 – but from the USA.

“Production of the Nissan Titan is scheduled to end summer 2024 at our Canton plant in Mississippi,” Nissan North America said.

The decision to kill the Titan, and end the current model run in the middle of next year, was made partly because of poor US sales and partly as a result of future electrification plans.

It was no surprise, and clearly pointed to a full and final stop to any hopes of bringing the Titan to Australia.

But there was still no news from Nissan Australia, until CarExpert requested an update.

Eventually there was an official one-line death sentence.

“At this point there are no plans to introduce the current Titan to Australia,” said Nissan Australia.


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