The next generation Nissan Navara and Mitsubishi Triton 4x4 utes could retain significant differences after all, despite planned cost-cutting and increased model sharing via the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance.
While the idea behind the Alliance is sharing resources and development costs to save money – and senior executives have previously said there would be more commonality across the three brands on all future models – a global Nissan executive now claims each brand will be able to maintain technical differences.
Ivan Espinosa, Senior Vice President of Global Planning at Nissan told Australian media during an online conference that, if any of the Alliance manufacturers deem it necessary, co-developed new models could have unique major components such as powertrain and suspension.
"The way that we look at the leader/follower approach, is leveraging on what the Alliance partners have," said Mr Espinosa. "But the focus is on each company’s strategies."
"So if, in the future," he said, "we find a need to do something different or even unique, because the customer is demanding these things, this is what we will do."
When it launched in 2015, the D23 Navara broke the rulebook by offering a five-link coil-sprung rear suspension, instead of the ubiquitous leaf springs of most competitors. And if they want to, Nissan could retain this unique trait in their future model.
"While at the same time, we will keep leveraging on what the Alliance partners." Mr Espinosa continued:
"You can think of maybe having the frame done by a company, and the powertrain done by another company."
"If this works, both in terms of business parameters for each of the companies, and also addresses the market requirements, this is something you could eventually see."
This flies in the face of earlier reports, that indicated that forthcoming Triton and Navara models could be a so-called badge-engineering exercise, sharing mechanicals, chassis platforms, and even body panels.
However, global president and CEO of Nissan Makato Uchida said soon after that the “Nissan-ness” of future models “will be determined by upper body”.
"Each company has it’s own requirements … the requirements remain unique. And if we have something unique that we as Nissan need, then we can think of having that in our own truck and not following truly what the other Alliance partners do."
CarAdvice understands a next-generation Mitsubishi Triton is due in 2023. Receiving a major mid-life update this week, the Nissan Navara will likely not be replaced until 2025.