It Just Got Easier to Buy a Truck . . .

  • August 12, 2023

Nissan has just announced The End for its Titan half-ton pick-up truck, which is the only new half-ton you can still buy that comes standard with a V8 engine (and doesn’t even offer a V6, let alone a four).

And that, of course, is why it’s The End for this truck.

Reports of its demise focus on sales as the cause of mortality – and while it’s true the Titan never sold in numbers anywhere near those posted by the class leaders, Ford’s F-150, the Chevy Silverado and the Ram 1500 – it is also true the Titan’s V8 has become a liability.

For Nissan.

The reason being the math. As in – Corporate Average Fuel Economy math. The latter being the math that every vehicle manufacturer must do because the government requires it – and applies a financial “incentive,” in the form of punitive taxes that are levied for “non-compliance.” A vehicle manufacturer can build V8-powered trucks like the Titan if it likes. There is no law against it. But if they do build it – and if it pulls down the CAFE “fleet average” below the number the government requires be met – cue the “incentives.” These make it cost-prohibitive to sell such vehicles – unless the manufacturer sells enough other vehicles (i.e., the ones that more-than-meet the CAFE mandatory “fleet average”) to compensate for the ones that don’t “comply.”

Nissan might have been able to continue selling the Titan – if it could sell enough Ariyas and Leafs. Which – being electric – could plump up Nissan’s CAFE “fleet average” to compensate for the drag-down effect of the Titan, which averages 18 MPG.

But those aren’t selling well, either.

The current CAFE “standard” is about 35 MPG – and (courtesy of the Biden Thing) it will rise by 8 percent next year and then 10 percent for 2026, headed for 58 miles-per-gallon, on average, within less than eight years from now.

There is no way the Titan could rise to that standard without shutting off – without getting rid of – its V8 engine.

Of course, the same problem threatens to impart a Sicilian mouth kiss upon the Ford F-150, the Chevy Silverado and the Ram 1500, too. But not as immediately – because all of the latter come standard with much smaller V6 engine (and even a four cylinder, in the case of the Chevy) that aren’t as devastating to their respective manufacturers’ CAFE “fleet averages.” Also, GM, Ford and Stellantis (the parent company of Ram) make so much money on these trucks- which they sell in huge numbers – that it offsets the costs of government. GM, Ford and Stellantis can probably afford to eat the cost of government “incentives” without raising the price to buyers of their hot-selling trucks beyond what most people are willing (and able) to pay.

Nissan, on the other hand, can’t.

Last year, only 15,063 Titans were bought. This is comparable to the number of electric F-150s (the Lightning) that were bought last year – and that isn’t even 4 percent  of the total number of F-150s (the non-electric ones) Ford sold last year.

Nissan had targeted annual sales of 100,000 to make building the Titan a viable proposition but the best year over the past 20 since it made its debut back in ’03 was 87,000 sold. It wasn’t enough to keep things going, especially in view of the . . . “incentives.”

The effect of these can be seen in the way Nissan (and it’s not just Nissan) has changed its advertising vis-a-vis 20 years ago. In 2003, Nissan touted vehicles like the Titan. Boasted about the power and the audacity of the thing. The company certainly didn’t apologize for the existence of the thing. If anything, the Titan was a repudiation of everything Nissan (and it’s not just Nissan) currently touts, such as the Ariya – which isn’t even a thing in that its name is a nonsensical confection-conjunction of some kind, similar to the made-up names given by the pharmaceutical cartels to their latest drugs – i.e., ask your doctor about Burenjia (I just made that up).

What the heck is an “Ariya”? Maybe it is an Aryan with spelling/grammar problems? Does it ariya on time?

Whatever it is, it isn’t a Titan – a straightforward, unapologetic thing as out-of-place in these times as a shotgun rack affixed to the rear glass of a high school kid’s pickup – parked at school.

Nissan is getting out of big trucks because what else could it have done? It could have embraced the electric tar baby, of course. But perhaps Nissan was wise enough to see how that would go. Ford is seeing just that. Chevy will, too.

But in the end, so will we – in that it won’t be possible, soon, for any of the remaining players to continue building trucks that can be sold at a price enough people will be willing and able to pay. The “incentives” will see to that. And if those aren’t enough, new ones will be found.

The result, inevitably, will be two kinds of trucks. One very expensive. The other electric – and expensive.

These will make the Titan seem like a deal.

Because, of course, it was.

. . .

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