Nissan Motor Co’s partial acquisition of Mitsubishi Motors could see the two groups co-develop their next-generation pickup ute models to drive down costs and share expertise.
Furthermore, Nissan’s newly appointed co-CEO Hiroto Saikawa has given a strong signal that Mitsubishi could use the Renault-Nissan alliance’s CMF modular architecture to revive the plans for new-generation passenger cars such as another Lancer.
Saikawa took a conference call with global media last week, including a few outlets from Australia including this one.
“Many companies face the challenge of ageing models. It happened to Nissan, it happened to Mitsubishi,” he said. “I cannot give you full assessment of Mitsubishi right now. [But] I can tell you that, we will see this in two way benefit.
“… Segments of joint platform development could include pick-up trucks in the ASEAN market where MMC has particular expertise.”
This last point suggest that the next iterations of the Navara (plus any Renault/Mercedes-Benz versions) and the Triton due around 2021 may share a newly developed architecture, created in tandem. The current Triton sports a reworked version of the previous model’s platform.
This would be a similar arrangement to what is believed to be taking place between Isuzu Ute and Mazda, though it’s not quite clear how involved the latter brand will be in that instance.
Before any of this eventuates, though, we may see Mitsubishi — ostensibly focused on crossover SUVs, pickups and a solitary passenger car, the ASEAN-focused Mirage — finally get what it needs to justify replacing the aged Lancer rather than letting it wither on the vine.
The CMF platform used by the Renault Megane, European Nissan Pulsar, Nissan Qashqai and more would presumably become available for Mitsubishi’s use, given it is now a part of the global Renault-Nissan Alliance, purportedly the world’s third-largest car brand by volume.
“…Existing platform can be exchanged whenever it will make significant sense,” Saikawa said.
Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi boss Carlos Ghosn has repeatedly said that platform sharing was a key driver in this deal, as was cutting costs through driving scale increases on parts and production. Mitsubishi doing a Megane/Pulsar-based Lancer would tick this box.
We also asked Saikawa if such a cost sharing arrangement could improve the business case for niche models, such as a sports car, or more performance-oriented versions of mainstream vehicles.
Perhaps a new Nissan Z coupe/Mitsubishi coupe co-architecture car like the Toyota 86/BRZ? Or a Lancer Evo using group technology like its turbo engines and AWD system, with some form of hybridisation? The transcript we received contained no answer…
Nissan Motor Co’s stake in MMC is 34 per cent, making it the chief shareholder. Alliance group sales (Renault/Nissan/MMC) are projected to hit 10 million units for fiscal year 2016, putting it up there with Toyota and the Volkswagen Group.