Nissan Tries Mega-Warranty on Titan

A newly completed Titan rolls off the line at the Nissan Canton Vehicle Assembly Plant in Canton, Miss., earlier this year. Nissan is offering a big boost in its warranty on its 2017 models in an attempt to cut into competitors’ market share. ENLARGE
A newly completed Titan rolls off the line at the Nissan Canton Vehicle Assembly Plant in Canton, Miss., earlier this year. Nissan is offering a big boost in its warranty on its 2017 models in an attempt to cut into competitors’ market share. Photo: Associated Press

Nissan Motor Co. NSANY 0.56 % is rolling out the Titan of truck warranties.

Long a laggard in the U.S. full-size truck market, the Japanese auto maker is offering its new 2017 Titan pickup with a five-year, 100,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty this year—coverage that far exceeds what rival truck makers are offering. The average comparable truck warranty stands at around three years and 36,000 miles.

The move comes as Nissan tries to reboot its image with truck buyers and put a dent in the Detroit car makers’ long-running dominance of the U.S. full-size truck market at time when low gasoline prices are fueling demand for brawny pickups.

The diesel version of the redesigned Titan hit dealer lots late last year and a higher-volume crew cab is expected to arrive this month.

Nissan believes the new truck could easily triple or quadruple sales of the previous-generation model, but so far, the Titan has gotten off to a slow start.

The company has sold only 7,242 trucks in the first seven months of the year, up 0.9% from the same year-ago period, according to Autodata Corp. Ford Motor Co. F 0.81 % , the market leader in trucks, sold 65,657 F-series pickups in July alone.

Phil O’Connor, marketing director for Nissan, says the company is hoping the new warranty offer will help the Titan stand out. He stressed the offer isn’t a response to the truck’s sluggish sales this year but rather a way to highlight reliability.

“What we have found is that advertising is only so effective,” Mr. O’Connor said in an interview. A five-year, 100,000-mile warranty offer on Nissan’s cargo vans in 2014 helped it to boost sales.

It is an absolute bloodbath to try and get converts right at the moment.

Dave Sullivan, analyst with AutoPacific

Dave Sullivan, an analyst with consulting firm AutoPacific, Inc., said the warranty could help boost potential buyers’ confidence in the truck’s quality. But Nissan is likely to face steep challenges poaching customers from rival truck makers, he said.

“It is an absolute bloodbath to try and get converts right at the moment,” Mr. Sullivan said.

Spokespeople for rival truck brands Ford, Chevy and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles FCAU 1.02 % NV’s Ram declined to comment on Nissan’s warranty offer but defended the quality and coverage of their own trucks.

Nissan has largely sat on the sidelines of the U.S.’s highly-profitable truck market since launching the full-size Titan in 2004 during the last pickup-truck boom. Delays redesigning the current Titan have left dealers struggling with an aging pickup model that has sold poorly against the more-established brands.

While Nissan doesn’t expect sales of the new Titan to match rivals Ford and General Motors Co. GM 0.92 % in sales, it is relying on the pickup to move it closer to meeting Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn’s goal of 10% U.S. market share in early 2017. Nissan’s U.S. market share was 8.7% in July.

Nissan, along with Japanese rivals Toyota Motor Corp. TM -0.18 % and Honda Motor Co. HMC 0.51 % , have long trailed the U.S. car makers in truck sales, putting them at a disadvantage when gasoline prices fall and demand for full-size pickups rises.

Truck buyers tend to be fiercely loyal and winning over defectors is even difficult for leading brands like Chevy and Ram.

Write to Jonathan Bach at [email protected]


WSJ.com: US Business

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