Mitsubishi Motors needs a pickup truck for the U.S. and Nissan wants a cheaper one for the global market. While the Red Diamonds’ Raider filled a ten year gap in the company’s lineup after the American discontinuation of the Mighty Max in 1996, sales were disappointing and production ended back in 2009. Now Mitsubishi and its new parent Nissan are investigating joint production of pickup trucks in Southeast Asia as they hunt for savings within the Renault-Nissan partnership.
The two Japanese automakers may combine the technical basis and eventual production of the future replacements for the South Asian-built Nissan Navara and Mitsubishi Triton, Mitsubishi chief operating officer Trevor Mann said in an interview at the Geneva car show.
“If you look at our cost performance in that region, we are the benchmark within the alliance,” Mann told Reuters. “Our four-by-four technology, our cost base on pickups is better than Nissan’s.”
That means Mitsubishi’s pickup architectures are likely to underpin subsequent Nissan models, said Mann, who was assigned by alliance head Carlos Ghosn to turn the failing Mitsubishi around after Nissan dropped $2.3 billion for a 34 percent controlling stake last October.
While Nissan and Mitsubishi both produce frame-based pickups and cars, the vehicles have elemental manufacturing and design differences. Moving to shared architectures would allow the Mitsubishi factory to focus on pickups while the Nissan plant continues to produce cars and SUVs, increasing productivity and lowering costs for both brands, Mann said.
Although, he was also careful to say that nothing had been set in stone. The current Navara and Triton models were launched in 2014 and neither are due for replacement until 2022, meaning development decisions should still be a couple years away. However, under a common platform it might be easier to get Mitsubishi trucks back into other markets — maybe even the United States and Canada if the cooperative truck platform extends beyond Asian assembly.
[Image: Mitsubishi Motors]