Mini-Trucks Are Coming Back: Here’s What Nissan Is Developing

Nissan has its eyes on the upcoming Hyundai Santa Cruz. The Santa Cruz is the unibody pickup some have compared to a modern-day mini-truck. It’s a four-door based on Hyundai’s Santa Fe crossover and it is expected next year as a 2022 model. Smaller than a Honda Ridgeline, manufacturers are looking at this as the next segment in the continuing pickup truck zeitgeist. So mini-trucks are coming back here’s what Nissan is rumored to be developing.

Nissan sells the full-size Tundra and medium-size Frontier but no mini-truck

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Rendering | Kolesa-2
2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Rendering | Kolesa

Currently, Nissan sells the full-size Tundra and medium size Frontier. Virtually any company in the pickup truck business has similar offerings except for Ram. It’s working on a midsize pickup. It suffices with the continuation of the previous generation Ram truck as a cheap full-size with a midsize price. 

Interestingly, Ram makes a truck very similar to the forthcoming Santa Cruz. It’s not available here, but it should be. Called the Ram 700, but it is only available in Latin American countries. Available as both a two- and four-door, it is based on the Fiat Strada platform. But, we digress.

Nissan wants something that is smaller and more affordable than the next Frontier

2020 Ram 700 Pickup | FCA-00
2020 Ram 700 Pickup | FCA

Rumors are that the new Frontier making its way in 2024 will be slightly larger than the current model. So Nissan wants something that is smaller and more affordable than the next Frontier. Besides having its eye on the Santa Cruz it is also anticipating the Ford Maverick which will become available in 2022. 

So a global light truck is in the cards seeing that there will be room for such a product below the Frontier. When posed with the question by Cars Guide, Nissan Motor Company senior vice-president for global planning Ivan Espinosa said “we’re always looking at the market and constantly monitoring trends as well as customer behavior. 

“This opportunity exists in some markets globally. Thinking of the evolution of trucks, customer wishes and regulatory trends will be demanding lighter vehicles that are more fuel-efficient. One way of solving that is through electrification, but the other is working on mass reduction. As we said, we are constantly looking at the market and exploring different alternatives,” Espinosa said. 

The Hyundai Santa Cruz will act as a stalking horse of sorts for a Nissan mini-truck

Hyundai Santa Cruz | Hyundai

RELATED: Sadly, the Ram 700 Mini-Truck Won’t Be Sold In The US

While Espinoza’s comments reflected Nissan’s take on markets outside of the US, there is no evidence Nissan would add this product here. We are expecting that the Hyundai Santa Cruz will act as a stalking horse of sorts. If it is a success expect a similar product from Nissan. Especially, if it has already developed a similar truck for other markets. 

Nissan is hampered in developing the vehicles it needs due to its financial position. Most of its product lines have not been updated, leading to smaller sales as newer models from competitors overshadow Nissan products. As a result, sales are down and so are profits. It is slowly ramping up the development of many new models and platforms but limited by the capital it has available.