Nissan’s presence in the U.S. has been mostly dominated by a passenger car lineup. Sprinkling some poorly-sold trucks and SUVs in there along the way and most Americans would probably say that Nissan is a “mostly-car” company. But elsewhere in the world, Nissan has made its presence known with a variety of other SUVs and trucks, including one that can dominate as both: the Nissan Patrol. So will the world-renowned Nissan Patrol truck come to the U.S. to save the segment?
Nissan struggles to have a presence in the American truck market
Nissan sold little over 72,000 Frontier pickups in 2019 and around 31,500 Titans, according to GoodCarBadCar. That’s a 9% decline over the previous year for the Frontier and close to a 38% decline for the Titan.
Not only are truck sales declining year-over-year for Nissan, but when compared to other truck brands, Nissan is at the bottom of the barrel. Ford, for instance, sold close to 900,000 F-Series trucks in 2019, while Chevrolet sold 575,000 Silverados.
With more and more Americans turning to SUVs and trucks over small cars, this seems to be spelling a disaster for Nissan in the U.S. According to the New York Times, the Japanese automaker has “failed to develop vehicles that appeal to the changing tastes of American consumers.”
Between poor sales and internal problems, the brand’s net income “fell 54.8% in the last quarter” of 2019. But what can Nissan do to save its truck sales and company? After all, Nissan makes better cars than it does trucks, right?
The best Nissan truck you’ve never seen
Automaker Nissan took up the common design of the post-WWII era and began working on military-style vehicles in the ’60s. Competing with other brands like Toyota, it debuted its new four-wheel drive SUV to the U.S. in the early ’60s.
First called the 4W Series, this utilitarian vehicle was powerful and more affordable than rivals. It was used widely by policemen, military, firefighters, and laborers because of its bare-bones, get-it-done nature. Due to poor sales, however, Nissan states the 4W Series stopped coming to the U.S. in 1969. But this cool vehicle didn’t die after it left the U.S.
The Patrol has gone through many changes and names, but the versatile, military-grade vehicle has donned multiple countries since its first production days. The Patrol has been available in both pickup truck and cab/SUV varieties; in just about every country but the U.S. In fact, the Patrol is technically in its sixth generation. And for almost decades of production, the Patrol hasn’t needed to change that much to stay relevant.
The Patrol rivals in many ways the Jeep, in its design, as well as top-notch, off-roading capabilities. The Patrol was the first vehicle to cross the Australian Simpson Desert, it’s come with hard and soft tops, and has been available as a diesel option for decades.
The latest 2020 Nissan Patrol was recently debuted to the Middle East and it shows its impressive nature hasn’t changed. According to the Road Show by CNET, the Patrol may be loaded to the brim with tech and safety features, but it’s still a “macho utility vehicle.”
Why bringing the Nissan Patrol to the U.S. is a smart move
In order to save sales in the United States, Nissan must restrategize and give consumers what they need. Where beautifully-designed cars have been the automaker’s main focus in America, inspirational trucks like the Patrol must stand in their place.
But Nissan has used the Armada as a replacement for the Patrol SUV and would benefit much more from its truck variation, which could rival both the Jeep Wrangler and Gladiator for a spot as top American off-roading vehicle.