Following the announcement that the 2015 Nissan Titan would offer a 5.0-liter turbodiesel V-8, we were able to grab a few minutes with Fred Diaz, Nissan U.S.A. divisional vice president for sales and marketing, about the process leading to the decision to offer a V-8 diesel with 550 lb-ft of torque in a half-ton truck.
Q: This is obviously a huge announcement for the half-ton segment. Could you share some about the discovery and conversations leading up to this, particularly focus groups with truck buyers?
A: It's a huge announcement for the Nissan brand and for the Titan truck. As we moved toward the development of the next-generation Titan, we knew that we needed to have an engine that delivered on what customers and truckers really wanted. We conducted a lot of focus groups with owners of the domestic OE trucks, as well as the foreign OE trucks, and asked the customers 'What is it that you need, what is it that you want?' In the truck business, if you're not attentive to what your customers want, you're destined to fail. What we found was that a lot of customers wanted a V-8 diesel in a 1500-class, light-duty truck. We think we're in a unique white-space situation with this truck.
Q: Coming from Ram, you were involved with the development of the Ram 1500 diesel. There are some obvious similarities, but also some major differences. Do you see any potential cross-shopping or cross-consideration between the two trucks?
A: We want to appeal to any truck buyer out there that is looking for a great truck with a great engine, whether that's one of our loyal Titan owners, a cross-shopper, or a loyalist to another brand.
Q: The current Titan is somewhat dated. Do you think Nissan will be fighting an uphill battle trying to attract customers to the new truck?
A: No question, the Titan was due for an update. Within a half-second of seeing the new truck for the first time, I was immediately impressed. I sat in the interior was also very impressed. Then you add to it a power plant like the Cummins engine, and I think we're going to get customers' attention. We're going to get consumers to say "I need to consider this truck," customers that may have never considered Nissan before. We're going to have fun, and make it good for our customers.