By on July 30, 2014

140611-01-16

Our industry source who reported that Nissan would use an old version of the Frontier has reported back to us with some bittersweet news.

The reported next-generation Frontier, which would have been based on the bones of the old, first-generation Frontier, has been abandoned. According to our source, bringing the old technology up to modern crash standards was too onerous a task, and the costs were simply too high – even with using an already paid for architecture.

The big issue at hand is this: Nissan still wants to have a small, basic, fuel-efficient affordable truck, since they see it as an untapped niche. Their original thinking was that the D22 Frontier would let them get their in a cost-effective way (remember, small trucks are low-margin, difficult to price and carry significant regulatory burdens). But now that this option is off the table, Nissan is forced to use the all-new Navara as a starting point.

From a superficial perspective, that’s not such a bad thing. The Navara is a modern, global mid-size pickup that is a proven design and a sales success across the globe. The problem is that, as it sits now, it’s far too expensive for what Nissan USA is looking for. So, the North American truck will use the Navara architecture, due to its crashworthiness, and ability to fit a modern, diesel engine under the hood, but the tradeoff will be a fair amount of content will not make it across the ocean.

As with the now dead D22, Nissan Mexico will be responsible for engineering the truck to meet NAFTA standards. This “clean sheet” approach, if it can be called that, will cause further delays. The current Frontier will soldier on until 2018, when the new truck arrives. A diesel variant arrives a year later. The new truck will likely have a different look and stick to the original mandate of being akin to a modern-day Hardbody. But instead of actually being a a modern day Hardbody, it will be a revamped modern truck.

Nissan had planned to give North American truck buyers something truly unique, but it was not to be. We will be getting what is arguably the better, more modern option, but this new approach will just add more time, effort and expense to the program. The goal of a low-cost, fuel-efficient pickup is still in sight. Nissan will just be approaching it in a different way.

 

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42 Comments on “Report: Nissan Scraps Small Truck Plans, Navara Now On For North America...”


  • avatar
    Onus

    I like this idea. Nissan has the market cornered with cheap new cars. Like the VERSA. No one seems to want to challenge them.

    Lines up with them targeting 2018-2019 emissions on the diesel that i read on another site.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      …Nissan has the market cornered with cheap new cars. Like the VERSA. No one seems to want to challenge them….

      I don’t know if I would agree with that. 67K Versas sold through June, several other B-Segment players aren’t that far behind. They definitely don’t have the market “cornered”

      • 0 avatar
        Onus

        My anecdotal evidence says they are a heck of a lot more popular around here than the other options.

        Isn’t the Versa c segment size wise? Sure looks it to me.

        Well maybe not cornered. But, they have found their niche.

        In this case it is more cut and dry. People have been begging for a cheap small truck. Like the ones of old.

        • 0 avatar
          RobertRyan

          @Onus,
          Not at all. Current US Diesels cannot meet Euro V ,let alone Euro VI. No we are not into smaller diesels, it was Nissans call to base it on a Euro V1 regulations , others who sell their Pickups in Asia, use Euro V . Ford has developed a 2.2 litre engine, that meets Euro V1 and is currently used in the European Transit

          • 0 avatar
            Onus

            EPA 2010 is stricter than Euro 5, and about equal to Euro 6. This is why we hear all the diesel talks now. The emissions standards are very close and don’t require crazy extra things to meet us standards from euro 6.

            If you read the article awhile back. The Ram 1500 that was imported to Europe. Meets EPA 2010 emissions. Had no problem with emissions on import.

            That tell its all there. Other than that research can be done to prove my point as well. Check below i have a link comparing epa emissions and euro emissions graphed out so you can see visually see the difference.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @Onus,
            No not at all. EPA 2010 fails on CO2 and particulates, that is why it cannot be imported.here and sold . You can import limited numbers of non compliance vehicles, but numbers restricted RAM 1500 was one off, they are not selling it in Europe, so it does not have to pass emission regulations or other EU standards

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @Onus,
            That was this the RAM 1500 Diesel report http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/european-review-ram-1500-ecodiesel/
            No Voltje mentions they are all Petrol engines, that either run on LPG or Petrol. Limited import quota exists in EU as well

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      Suits me fine too. Barring another recession, I should be on track to put myself further in debt to get one of these in my laneway.
      :-)
      I like the burnt orange color too.

  • avatar
    319583076

    Interesting…

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Thank you GM, thank you.

    What?

    By throwing down the Colorado/Canyon card (I’m not a fan, I’d rather have the Holden Ute but I get an El Camino aint’ gonna sell) they are forcing the other players in the small/mid track market to up their game – right or wrong.

    In the end, we all win with more choice and the Tacoma/Frontier get much needed updates – where again – we all win in the end.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    To further improve this win, they should sell it as a Datsun.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      Nissan with the new Navada decreased the engine capacity of the diesel to 2.3 litres because the 3 litre 405lbs ft of torque, does not meet Euro 6 emission regulations (neither does the 3.2 diesel in the new US Transit). Not a great selling point, I think numbers being sold will plummet

      • 0 avatar
        Onus

        The 3.2 doesn’t meet emissions yet. But, its meets epa 2010 which is very nearly equal to euro 6. Shouldn’t take more than a computer program change to meet euro 6 standards coming from epa 2010.

        • 0 avatar
          RobertRyan

          @Onus,
          Far from Euro 6, which appears to be big hurdle to jump. The reason the 3.2 was killed in Europe, it could not be upgraded to Euro 6. We still keep it as we are Euro 5

          • 0 avatar
            Onus

            Contrary to what ford says they are very very close. Whatever reason for not updating it I have no idea. I imagine the smaller engines are more popular in nearly all the markets that require euro 6.

            Probably packaging issues IMO. DOC + DEF + UREA.

            http://transportpolicy.net/index.php?title=Global_Comparison:_Light-duty_Emissions

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      Lil’ Hustler? Though the name seems to have a different connotation 35+ years later.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “According to our source, bringing the old technology up to modern crash standards was too onerous a task, and the costs were simply too high – even with using an already paid for architecture.”

    Ford ran the Ranger to MY12, and it dated from CY1993 with its last facelift being CY1998. This was ok in the eyes of bureaucracy, but suddenly two years later the D22 Frontier -itself from CY1997 four years newer than Ranger- is unacceptable for crash standards. Either Ford was ahead of its time in 1993 from a safety standpoint, and conversely Nissan was phoning it in around 1997, or we’ve gotten a little ridiculous with our crash standards.

    • 0 avatar
      Onus

      They don’t need to update it our standards haven’t changed at all since. But, consumers don’t like tin cans anymore. They like to be safe when they crash.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        The article does not elaborate on whose crash standards the D22 could not meet. However it seems the current D40 Navarra performed rather poorly, and I believe this D40 is being sold right now as the Nissan Frontier in the US. Evidently crash standards be damned according to its buyers.

        I love this, ok so it got one star. No wait, let me update the firmware. Hey now its barely average, yay!

        “Safety

        The D40 Navara has undergone Euro NCAP crash testing along with the Mitsubishi Triton and Isuzu D-Max, and received one star with a strikeout; however, after retesting with upgraded computer software it went from the lowest in the group to the highest (overall) with 3 stars. Among the problems discovered during the test was delayed airbag deployment and insufficient seatbelt restraint, which were solved with the software upgrade. The car receives good rating in Frontal Offset Test, Side Impact, and Roof Test by IIHS but only Acceptable in rear impact.”

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nissan_Navara

    • 0 avatar
      319583076

      I’ll take ridiculous crash standards!

      -insert my usual lament about risk and risk perception here-

    • 0 avatar
      cronus

      The Ranger was rated 2 stars in NHTSA crash tests. Maybe Nissan didn’t want that level of embarrassment.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Read the post above because evidently they were not aware of a firmware issue which probably was killing people until an NCAP test. Even after the upgrade they seem to have only beaten out Mitsubishi and Isuzu products.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      The Ranger was good in 1998 but yes one of the reasons it died was because it couldn’t meet the safety standards for vehicles produced after Jan 1st 2012 as it was. Ford did not see the profit potential in either upgrading it or spending the money on the tooling needed for the parts that would have made the global Ranger meet US safety standards.

      I never believed that Nissan would bring back the old truck as it does not make sense to spend that much money trying to bring the old truck up to today’s standards for such a small volume. Going with the global truck was the only way to stay in the game in a semi-cost effective manner.

    • 0 avatar
      segxr7

      Having seen a lot of crash test reports from that era, Ford really did seem to be ahead of their time. They often got 4-5 stars while it was still common for a lot of cars (especially GM and Asian makes) to be pretty appalling.

      It’s also very possible that they got lucky and were able to meet newer standards with simple changes, whereas the D22 platform had some sort of fatal flaw. I think there are too many factors in play to blame it on crash standards. And even if that was the issue, I really don’t have a problem with it.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        At the very minimum stability control would have to be added and while the vast majority of hardware is there it does take a lot of engineering and testing to program it. All light vehicles made after 1/1/12 are required to have stability control. Roof crush standards are also getting more stringent.

  • avatar
    readallover

    This leaves the door wide open for Fiat to build the Strada in Mexico and avoid the chicken tax.

    • 0 avatar
      Beerboy12

      I am struggling to grasp why Fiat does not do this, they would own this (baby truck) market. Mind you, the Strada is not much smaller and less capable than 1980’s and 90’s mid size pickups…

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        The seven guys on the internet who want one aren’t enough to make it profitable (particularly when five of the seven wouldn’t bother to buy one if it was available.)

        • 0 avatar
          3Deuce27

          “The seven guys on the internet who want one aren’t enough to make it profitable (particularly when five of the seven wouldn’t bother to buy one if it was available.)” _ _ _ _ True enough ‘PCH101′ for the guys on this blog, but I know plenty of others who don’t bother themselves with blogs, who are nursing along old 80’s small pick-ups who would like to see something plain and simple with 30mpg capability come along and replace their old Rangers, Mitsu’s, and 720’s, seems the guys with the Isuzu’s and S-10/15’s 1.9’s are not that interested.

          The small utility trailer, pulled behind the wife’s CUV/SUV has replaced the small pick-up, while the guys look forlornly at their big pick-ups that they can only use a few times a year now due to $4.00 a gallon fuel.

          A high mpg pick-up utility has to return the market as we can’t keep punishing the planet with the fuel hogs we have now in any size utility.

          I still have my little Nissan ‘720’ 4×4, but it never got the MPG that my 80′ Chevy LUV achieved, and because of that, it has only accumulated 127,000 or so miles in 29 years, I blew past that in the LUV in five years. I also only use it for rough and steep roads or fording creeks/mud hole that require a 4×4, or for a quick load of building material, where the LUV was used daily as a personal vehicle transport/work horse, because of its MPG and high utility.

          Got a hankering for Tex/Mex so better crawl up the basement stairs and slather some underarm all over my upper body and put on a clean shirt… not… wipe the drool off my chin and fire up the Moped. I will leave you guys to figure out the small pick-up utility issue for the OEM’s.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    The Navara is awesome… But they will cheap it out? I have a hard time understanding how that will succeeded.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Well the reality is that the only purchasers of the current truck are auto parts stores who can’t get a Ranger anymore and aren’t willing to pay Toyota prices. So they need a truck for their core customer to have a hope in hell of selling enough to make it worth the investment.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    “The problem is that, as it sits now, it’s far too expensive for what Nissan USA is looking for.”

    Without the Pathfinder to amortize the platform, generating profits becomes more of a challenge. I guess that the effort to amortize it across the Americas was a pipedream.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    Unlike the Big 3 minus 1, Nissan does not have the burden of cutting into the full sized pickup cash cow with a decent small truck. The next Titan with the 5.0 Cummins would be a direct competitor for max tow/haul 1/2 tons from Ford and GM or 3/4 ton trucks from Ram. The Navara even with minimal dumbing down for the rebellious colonies would fit nicely into their portfolio.

    Most Tacoma’s I see are double cab 4×4 TRD’s or SR5’s which overlap price wise with 1/2 ton trucks. Even a run through Cars.com search engine indicates that most small trucks are mid to high level trim double cabs.

    The alleged cheapskate market is only a small percentage of sales. Fleets and bottom spec trucks aren’t more than 8% of Tacoma sales. Tacoma is killing the regular cab and the new Colorado won’t even offer it.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      @Lou_BC – The Tacoma regular cab is one of the fastest selling trucks on the planet, close behind the Tacoma crew/double cab. The regular cab has to be close to 1/2 of all Tacomas Toyota sells in the US, regardless of how reluctant Toyota is to build it. And you have to never mind your own anecdotal. The Tacoma isn’t even for sale in Canada. And look how pitiful its sale are up there. One month the Tacoma was outsold by the Hyundai Veloster!

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @DenverMike – “The Great White North” ain’t too friendly to reg cab 4×2 pickups. Ever stop to think (at any time) that is the reason why they were killed off in Canada well before the USA?

        Canada being a small market has been treated like an extension of the USA market.
        We buy more trucks per capita than the USA and our trucks tend to be more likely to be used as trucks. A study was released in Canada and showed trucks were more popular on our prairies i.e. farm country and Northern rural areas.

        Like I said earlier -areas that don’t tend to be hospitable to 4×2 trucks.

        Large urban centres will favour a 4×2 reg cab due to size and they are perfect for small delivery stuff BUT once again and I’ve pointed this out before, you can’t deliver jack sh!t to heavy industry with a small truck. Most companies servicing heavy industry run 450/4500 and larger service and delivery trucks.

        I mentioned Cars.com search engine because it is a USA based engine. What it spits out mirrors Toyota statistics as well as my Northern view.

        Despite your blog name you allege to reside in California and California has dictated to car companies what sits on the show room floor.
        Toyota has signalled a big “F^ck you” to California by moving head office to Texas.
        One cannot accurately extrapolate sunny SoCal anecdotal evidence as the standard for the rest of the world.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          @Lou_BC – Toyota did abandon California, like much of big industry has or about to. But CA remains the Tacoma’s big market. By far. And favours regular cabs, by far. And most deliveries, even to service big equipment and earth movers are mostly small items, under 200 lbs. A lot of times, just an o-ring set, gaskets or pressure lines.

          So there’s no reason for Tacoma sales (Access and crew/double cabs only) to be do dismal and disappointing in Canada, unless the lack of regular cabs kills it. Same with Frontier sales.

          With the regular cab Taco being cancelled in the US now, I’ll eat my hat if Tacoma sales don’t fall through the floor next year. Even though Orkin is under contract for another 2 year, the new Colorado/Canyons muddies the waters a bit. The Frontier may end up outselling all other midsize trucks, with an even playing field. Meaning all extended cab, base midsizer trucks.

  • avatar
    turboprius

    Glad Nissan is going on the Navara route.

    But 2018? The Frontier has been long in the tooth since 2011 or so. Same applies to the Armada, the Titan, and the Xterra. At least we know a Titan replacement is coming, and Nissan has the Patrol in other countries. They could bring that to America and badge it as the Armada. Twin homie QX56/QX80 has been a luxurious Patrol for a few years.

    If this Navara became an SUV, it could be the new Xterra. However, as I just said, a redesign has been needed for a long time. Considering the delay of the Frontier, a new Xterra (if it happens) would probably come to be in 2020, 2021.

  • avatar
    catachanninja

    I’m seriously heartbroken over this. I loved my old ranger but the years were starting to add up and I didn’t want to buy essentially another ten year old truck. I love my Altima but I miss offroading, shooting off the tailgate, driving in the snow with impunity and being able to move large objects through tight streets. I’m sick of these trash bloated “trucks” on the market right now, and they’re overpriced on top of it.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    I said all along, the whole story was a hoax, knowing what it takes to keep the Frontier, and Titan (and the others that all share the common chassis) afloat. Never mind that the Hard Body is considered a meat grinder by today’s standards.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    If Nissan is concerned about keeping the price down, why are they wanting to equip it with a diesel?


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