On the eve of Tesla’s electric pickup debut, Nissan has said it, too, will join in on the truck electrification parade. “Electrification will be key to trucks,” says Francois Bailly, head of Nissan’s Light Commercial Vehicles business. “Electric is fun to drive, it’s fantastic torque, acceleration, quietness, all that is great.”
Speaking at a press event in Utah, as reported by Automotive News he didn’t reveal when the electric wave of Nissan pickup trucks will take place. Nissan’s electric development will hinge on technology and how affordable it is. “There should not be a compromise in terms of towing and payload,” Bailly said. “We need to be able to offer a reasonably priced pickup truck.”
Nissan was at the forefront of electric vehicles
Don’t forget that Nissan was at the forefront of electric vehicles when it introduced the Leaf in 2010. Since then it has let a number of its vehicles lapse including the Leaf. It received its first revamp in 2017. The current Nissan full-size Titan pickup and midsize Frontier have not been revamped in over 10 years. Both are expected to be all-new by 2021.
Nissan’s slow approach may be due partially to its place in truck production. The Titan only makes up 1.4% of the full-size pickup truck segment. That places it at the bottom of the list of manufacturers. But Bailly thinks having a pickup truck helps sell all Nissan products including sedans. “These people are loyal,” he says. “If they like our truck they will buy other Nissan vehicles in the portfolio, so it’s a very key segment.”
Nissan needs to refocus on its trucks
With the pickup segment so hot Nissan knows it needs to rethink what it has and get back into the game. “What we are doing with this truck is refocusing our energy and maybe have a more limited lineup so we can do more with our available investment,” Bailly says.
Another aspect of improving Nissan truck sales is the dealer network and salesforce. “We need to give them better product, better training, and help them understand what the advantages are,” he says. “Why do we think towing is better on the Titan than other trucks? We need to give them the tools to succeed.”
Tesla and Rivian electric pickups “great for the industry”
Both Tesla and Rivian are stealing the electric truck limelight of late. Interestingly, neither has produced a single pickup. “I think it’s great for the industry overall to challenge all of us,” Bailly said.
But he doesn’t think that electric truck technology is ready quite yet. “I don’t think we are technologically ready to have that no-compromise EV or plug-in hybrid,” he says. “I don’t want to put a truck on the market with limited payload, limited range, or limited towing. The customers will not go for that.”
All of the truck manufacturers are looking to electrification to, at the very least, add another model to the hot truck lineup for each company. But there could be a shift to electric pickup trucks, or it might fizzle. But the speed and intensity we are seeing with manufacturers wanting electric everything to tell us they know more than they’re telling.
At least outwardly, they’re saying electrification is the wave of the future. Will that apply to trucks? We’ll know soon.