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The joint agreement between Nissan and Mitsubishi has given birth to discussions regarding a Thai-built one-ton pickup. This development points to future Navara and Triton models potentially sharing platforms and technology.
This proposal is just one of the joint operations being evaluated by the two Japanese car giants as a riposte to similar partnerships between the likes of Ford and Mazda, culminating in the joint development of the Ranger and BT-50 pickups, as well as General Motors and Isuzu with the co-development of the Trail Blazer and new Isuzu KB pickup.
On the local market, Nissan’a current pickup offerings comprise the Spanish-built Navara, which arrived here in 2005, and the locally manufactured NP300, which has been around since 1997. Mitsubishi’s Triton is something of a comparative newcomer, having been on the market since 2006 in a number of configurations.
Although the Nissan offerings are both due for an upgrade/replacement, the Mitsubishi still has a couple of years ahead of it before a replacement is due. This would place the emergence of a joint-developed pickup to around 2014-15.
Given the pressures placed on manufacturers to bring new products to the market at more competitive price points, the sharing of components and production facilities between Nissan and Mitsubishi makes a great deal of sense. It also goes some way to explaining the decision to shift Navara production from Nissan’s Thai plant to Mitsubishi’s facility in the same country.
Both parties already pool their resources to produce minicar and commercial vehicle models in Japan. Despite each group already accommodating existing partnerships (Renault-Nissan Alliance shares tech with Daimler and Mitsubishi works closely with RSA Peugeot Citroen on such products as the ASX/Air Cross/4008 SUV), this latest development will not affect these partnerships.
In an official joint statement, Nissan and Mitsubishi said they had agreed to study new opportunities to generate additional synergies:
“The cooperation agreement between Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors will be complementary to any agreements the two parties have already established with other partners,” they said.
Nissan president and CEO Carlos Ghosn said the agreement supported Nissan’s expansion in emerging markets, met immediate capacity needs overseas and enabled it to grow its mini car business in Japan.
“Our relationship with Mitsubishi demonstrates the ability of the Renault-Nissan Alliance – with its network of global partnerships – to constantly evolve and create new win-win relationships with other companies in function of specific needs and shared objectives," he said. Mitsubishi Motors president Osamu Masuko said: “This agreement to expand our business cooperation with Nissan is founded on our good business relationship since 2003, through several OEM (original equipment manufacturer) agreements of mini cars and commercial vehicles.
“I believe that the expansion of our OEM agreement will complement each others' regional characteristics and product lineup, and the one-ton pickup and mini car projects will be the best solution to strengthen each others' competitiveness."