“The dedicated employees here in Canton look forward to building
the next generation of one of the best pickup trucks in America.”
– Steve Marsh, VP Manufacturing, Nissan Canton Vehicle Assembly Plant
Nissan has announced that a next-generation Nissan Frontier will be built in Canton, Mississippi, the same plant that’s been building the nearly 13-year-old second-gen Frontier since 2012.
But the platform on which the next Frontier will be based? And the precise timing of the unveiling and on-sale date?
The 2018 Nissan Frontier continues as the same F-Alpha midsize pickup truck that’s been on sale in America since the 2005 model year. That truck’s global replacement — known in many markets as the Navara — was unveiled three years ago as a truck that has not been sold north of Mexico.
Could the next Mississippi-built Nissan Frontier simply be the Navara-come-to-America? Is Nissan simply going to thoroughly revamp the Frontier to modestly modernize the truck while keeping it affordable? As Ford launches the global Ranger in North America in 2019 and pickups as varied as the GMC Canyon Denali and Honda Ridgeline grow ever more costly, an affordable Nissan would surely have a place in the market.
These questions weren’t answered by Nissan’s September 12th announcement. The announcement revealed Nissan’s decision to remain in Mississippi with the former Tennessee-built truck, pleasure voiced by Mississippi’s governor, and the previously quoted Mississippi plant boss, who called the Frontier “a leader in its class.”Nissan employs 6,400 people at its Mississippi facility. The Frontier isn’t the only body-on-frame Nissan built in Canton. The Titan, Titan XD, and NV vans are built there, as well, along with the Murano crossover. Nissan’s Canton production is down 15 percent so far this year, a decline largely traced back to lower Frontier volume, according to Automotive News Data Center.
As Nissan chased a section of the truck market that couldn’t buy a Titan in the middle of 2016 — the full-size Titan was in between models — Frontier sales shot up to a 15-year annual high of 86,926 sales last year.
But Frontier sales are sliding fast in 2017. Through the first two-thirds of this year, Frontier sales are down 19 percent, and its share of America’s small/midsize pickup truck market has fallen from 21 percent at this stage of 2016 to 17 percent this year.
It’s reasonable to surmise, if not firmly conclude, that Nissan now sees enough midsize pickup demand to justify the domestic production of the Navara as the next-gen Frontier. That could have an impact on the potential arrival of the Mercedes-Benz X-Class in America, as well. The X-Class is essentially an altered twin of the Navara. Yet with no American pickup truck production, Mercedes-Benz would be forced to pay a 25-percent chicken tax tariff on every imported X-Class.
Nissan last revealed a new Frontier at the 2004 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Is January 2018 to soon to expect the unveiling of the first new Frontier since George W. Bush’s first term?