Mitsubishi recently claimed – somewhat boldly – it would lead dual-cab development for the next generation of vehicles under its alliance. According to a senior figure inside the Nissan camp, that leadership role mightn't be as clear cut.
Speaking to Australian media ahead of a Sahara Desert off-road drive of Nissan Navara AT32, Nissan Patrol, Nissan Terra and Nissan Titan, Pedro de Anda, chief product specialist, was adamant no decision has been made about development as the alliance rolls into full force.
Interestingly, Triton and Navara both feature philosophical differences as it stands, with the Mitsubishi using a traditional leaf-spring rear end, and the Navara a more modern, five-link coil-spring rear end.
Still, with Navara available with both leaf springs or coils on the same platform, that difference in philosophy might not be the biggest hurdle to negotiate.
"I'm aware of Mitsubishi said," de Anda said with a wry grin. "And they have their reasons for saying what they said. But we said when this Renault/Nissan/Mitsubishi alliance was created that we were of course, looking at different synergies and when our lifecycles align we will share a platform."
That's another factor sure to influence what happens and when. Triton and Navara, both typically following the commercial ten-year life spans, are at different stages within that life cycle. Further, should Mitsubishi wish to continue with the leaf-spring rear end, that could be accommodated, while Nissan stays with coil springs.
Another area where the two currently differ, is the Mitsubishi offering of Super Select 4WD, allowing the Triton to be left in 4WD at all times on any road surface. Navara doesn't currently offer that and according to de Anda, it isn't a consideration currently on the table.
"We've been in partnership for a year and half, so it is still a very premature stage," he said. "I can't give too many details, who will do what, we can't confirm yet."
In a market like Australia, one factor stands out as a determining purchase influence – styling – and dual cabs have very different design cues and features.
That factor is something homogeny wouldn't help, and de Anda is adamant platform sharing, doesn't have to mean same/same styling when the time comes to design. In fact, he references the Mercedes-Benz X-Class as an example two dual-cabs on the same underpinnings don't need to look the same.
"They are different brands with different customers," de Anda says in reference to the Triton and Navara. "For Mitsubishi, the Triton is very important to them obviously. But these vehicles must be more than just different bonnets or different from fascia. Ideally all of the panels should be different, even the glasshouse can be different."