In a sharp U-turn just 24 hours after executives representing the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance said most future models will largely look the same – but with different badges and subtle styling cues – Nissan has vowed to retain at least some of its identity.
In a video conference with international media overnight, the president and CEO of Nissan globally, Makato Uchida, was asked to clarify comments by Alliance executives from the day before, and how the group expected to sell more cars if there was little differentiation between them.
Uchida-san said the “Nissan-ness” of future models “will be determined by upper body”.
The Nissan boss said that the current arrangement with Renault saw unique bodies for both brands fitted to common underpinnings.
“Each partner tried to … avoid cannibalisation” on common models by designing unique bodies, said Uchida-san.
“As a result, we looked for significant differentiation between the two (Nissan and Renault) and this resulted in less efficiency in investment,” he said. “Based on the lessons learned, we are trying to (be) more efficient.”
Under the new regime announced yesterday, all three Alliance partners plan to share underpinnings and upper bodies on future models due three to five years from now.
When asked to clarify how much commonality there would be between the styling of the various brands, Uchida-san said: “It doesn’t mean that we are going to adopt identical upper (bodies)”.
He did admit, however, there will be “minimal … differentiation while we can use existing assets”.
For example, he said, the Alliance partners would look to adopt common doors – and, therefore, the main frame and cabin design of each vehicle.
In the case of the Nissan Navara and Mitsubishi Triton, for example, it could mean they share the same basic cabin shape and design, but have a unique front-end appearance and ute tubs.
However, the executive did not go into such detail, adding: “There are other successful models where they adopt common doors, but they look different.”
In conclusion, Uchida-san said: “I want to see Nissan to retain its Nissan-ness,” before admitting “our pathway to recovery will not be a smooth one.”
Meanwhile, at the end of the video conference, Nissan flashed up images of a range of new or updated models, however CarAdvice understands these have not been designed with the new philosophy in mind.
Rather, these are likely the last of the unique Nissan models due to be released over the next two years, before the Alliance starts to rollout more shared models in three to five years.
An updated Nissan Navara – with subtle changes to the daytime running lights – and refreshed Nissan Frontier appeared briefly in the short clip and are shown below, with the letters 'N' and 'F' in the background providing a clue to which one is which.