NIS­SAN TO THE RES­CUE

NIS­SAN SET TO JUMP-START MIT­SUBISHI’S 4X4 OF­FER­INGS WITH A PLAT­FORM SHAR­ING STRAT­EGY.

4 x 4 Australia - - 4cast -

NIS­SAN is set to cap­i­talise on its planned 34 per cent pur­chase of Mit­subishi by em­bark­ing on a bold plat­form shar­ing strat­egy that could ex­pand the four-wheel drive of­fer­ings of both brands.

The head of Re­nault and Nis­san, Car­los Ghosn, has al­ready flagged the idea of Mit­subishi’s Triton ute shar­ing the plat­form of the Navara, some­thing that would lead to sig­nif­i­cant de­vel­op­ment and pro­duc­tion sav­ings and – po­ten­tially – pro­duce a bet­ter prod­uct.

“It’s very pos­si­ble we’re go­ing to use the same plat­form,” Ghosn told jour­nal­ists in a phone con­fer­ence within days of the May an­nounce­ment of the planned $3 bil­lion pur­chase of Mit­subishi shares, which will give Nis­san a con­trol­ling in­ter­est in the ail­ing Ja­panese ri­val.

“In­stead of hav­ing two dif­fer­ent plat­forms we can have, on the same plat­form, two dif­fer­ent prod­ucts, which will al­low the in­vest­ments to be lower and also to have lower pur­chas­ing costs of parts that are not vis­i­ble to the cus­tomer.”

How­ever, Ghosn was adamant the cars would not be badge-en­gi­neered and would in­stead look, feel and smell dif­fer­ent on the show­room floor.

“We’re go­ing to de­velop the cars dif­fer­ently be­cause the cus­tomers of Mit­subishi are not the same as the cus­tomers of Nis­san,” he said.

The Navara ute is al­ready pro­vid­ing the un­der­pin­nings for the up­com­ing Mercedesbenz and Re­nault utes, though (along sim­i­lar lines) each will be pre­sented to cus­tomers quite dif­fer­ently.

The Mercedes-benz, in par­tic­u­lar, will be a very dif­fer­ent beast and come with a pre­mium price tag be­fit­ting the brand. Mercedes will use its own 4Matic four-wheel drive sys­tem and, while there will be a Nis­san-sourced en­gine within the Benz global of­fer­ings, there will also be Mercedes-benz en­gines, in­clud­ing a V6 diesel.

Ben­e­fits could also flow to Nis­san within its ex­pan­sive six-strong SUV range.

With the im­mi­nent demise of the Y61 Pa­trol in Oc­to­ber – af­ter al­most 19 years on the mar­ket – the com­pany will be left with­out a large dieselpow­ered off-roader. Util­is­ing the plat­form of the Navara – as the pre­vi­ous Pathfinder used to – and shar­ing those de­vel­op­ment costs with a next-gen Pa­jero Sport (it­self based on the Triton) seems an ob­vi­ous choice.

The Y62 Nis­san Pa­trol (the big­ger, petrol-pow­ered Pa­trol made for the US mar­ket) could also

pro­vide a life­line to the Mit­subishi Pa­jero, an age­ing model that was ex­pected to be dis­con­tin­ued at the end of the cur­rent gen­er­a­tion. Mit­subishi had pre­vi­ously flagged its in­ten­tion to con­tinue the Pa­jero name­plate with the GC-PHEV con­cept from the 2013 Tokyo Mo­tor Show, but more re­cently it ap­peared there was noth­ing in the de­vel­op­ment pipe­line. The move to dis­con­tinue the Chal­lenger name and re­place it with Pa­jero Sport added fuel to the fire that the Pa­jero – a model that has been in Aus­tralia since 1983 and one of a hand­ful of off-road­ers that utilised a mono­coque con­struc­tion – could be killed off.

On the softer side of SUVS, Mit­subishi could lever­age the vast Nis­san port­fo­lio for com­po­nents and plat­forms for much­needed re­place­ments.

Could Nis­san’s NP300 chas­sis also sup­port new utes from Re­nault, Mit­subishi, Mercedes-benz and Fiat as part of a mega-auto al­liance?

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