New Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida has clarified future vehicles developed in alliance with Renault and/or Mitsubishi won’t necessarily be badge-engineered – or in other words share complete upper bodies as well as architectures.
The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance this week announced plans to slash costs by sharing “vehicle upper bodies” as well as platforms and electrical architectures, reducing the price of developing a new model by 40 per cent.
But the concerns flagged were obvious: will all Alliance vehicles just look the same now? Not even Volkswagen and Skoda – one being a direct subsidiary of the other, rather than a partner firm – have taken that path.
The answer is that some will. For instance Nissan and Mitsubishi already have rebadged versions of the Renault Trafic van with no changes bar the name.
But it doesn’t mean that this model will apply to all segments.
The models of most interest to us in Australia are the next-generation Nissan Navara and Mitsubishi Triton.
It’s expected Mitsubishi will be the project leader, in a setup akin to ventures between dominant and recipient partners such as the 2020 Isuzu D-Max and Mazda BT-50, or 2022 Ford Ranger and Volkswagen Amarok.
“The brand, the ‘Nissan-ness’, will be determined by the upper body. But if you look back, in relations with Renault, because we had the challenging volume task, each partner tried to minimise cannibalisation as much as possible.
“As a result we looked for significant differentiation between the two and the result was less efficiency in investment. But it doesn’t mean we are [now] going to adopt identical upper bodies… that’s not our intention.
“… Differentiation will be attained [but] we can use existing assets, for example we look for adoption of common doors. There are other successful models where they adopt common doors but they look different.”
Nissan’s COO Ashwani Gupta also confirmed the partnership with Mitsubishi.
“We are working very closely with Mitsubishi to use common powertrain and transmissions, also common modules on the next Triton and Navara,” he said.
Given Mitsubishi launched a heavily-facelifted Triton last year, and given the D23 Navara is about five years into its life cycle, it’s unlikely the new shared Triton and Navara range will hit the market until about 2023/24.