Nissan is working to reposition itself in the United States by building more cars and trucks that buyers actually like. While it could go on selling a zillion Rogues every year, that’s not really earning the affection of potential return customers. Instead, as Automotive News reports, the brand seems to be considering a return to the segment it helped create in this country by way of a small pickup truck. This time, though, it’d probably run on battery power.
The idea apparently presented itself when Nissan decided to rethink its truck offerings given its increasingly electrified model range. The pandemic hasn’t helped Titan sales though the Frontier has held relatively strong, and it may get even better with the fresh-look 2022 model. There’s also a familiar space being reshaped by the Ford Maverick and Hyundai Santa Cruz where small trucks are just as cool as big ones. Maybe it’s time for Nissan to draw off its Hardbody heritage, then.
Automotive News cites a source familiar with the matter as saying that Nissan is studying a truck that’d be smaller than the Frontier. Given the timeframe as well as the vehicles it’d likely compete with, it’s safe to bet it would be electrified in some way if not wholly electric from the start. And if it’s much like the Maverick or Santa Cruz, the truck would feature unibody construction.
Or, who knows—maybe Nissan would surprise us and really throw it back to the boxy trucks of days gone by. I’m not giving up hope for another body-on-frame.
Regardless of those details, it might just make sense for Nissan to do this. Its dealer network wants it, and that’d be one way to mend the recently strained relationships between the corporate automaker and its most customer-facing representatives.
Greg Carrasco, vice president of operations at Oakville Nissan in Toronto, explained to Automotive News why a small electric truck could be a big “W” for Nissan.
“Nissan once was a quirky, interesting Japanese car manufacturer that had loyalty because of how many chances they took when it came to design, when it came to performance,” Carrasco noted. He doesn’t believe the public still feels that way, however, as he adds, “That temporary amnesia is kind of curing itself.”
“There are a lot of people that own small properties that don’t need full-size pickup trucks and are looking for fuel-efficient and costs-effective pickups,” Carrasco continued. “Early adopters are going to be looking at this space, and if there is any market to be had, now’s the time.”
What’s more, Judy Wheeler—Nissan division vice president of sales and regional operations in the U.S—entertains the idea, too. While she didn’t give much clue as to how serious these talks are internally at Nissan, she admitted to Automotive News, “The pickup area is kind of interesting. There will be a consumer that’s looking more for a lifestyle vehicle that they can put all their gear in and go off-roading.”
Wheeler then mentioned Nissan’s dealer presence that’s long been familiar with EVs because of the Leaf, and they’re also capable of servicing them.
The Drive has reached out to Nissan for comment here and will update this post with its response. It’s hard to imagine a better fit for the compact pickup segment than the one who kinda started it in the late ’80s and early ’90s, especially with the potential for electric power in play. Don’t hold your breath but just remember that Nissan at least loves us enough to build another Z sports car.
Got a tip about small Nissan pickups making a comeback? Email the author: firstname.lastname@example.org