First Shoe to Drop – Titan Becomes a Dodge Ram Derivative
Nissan and Chrysler appear to be getting closer and closer to merging major parts of their product lineups. Earlier this year Nissan announced that the Nissan Titan full-size pickup presently produced on Nissan’s own platform at Nissan’s 300,000 unit capacity plant in Canton, Mississippi would become a reskinned Dodge Ram built at Saltillo, Mexico early in the next decade. In the meantime, Chrysler has idled Saltillo in the face of dwindling Ram sales and the introduction of the all new 2009 Ram pickup. This practically guarantees that Chrysler’s half ton truck platform will continue to get volume “efficiencies” from two plants.
In the first round of the relationship Chrysler also agreed to rebadge the Nissan Versa small car to provide a much needed entry below the Dodge Caliber/Jeep Patriot/Jeep Compass.
Conjecture for Nissan’s Canton, Mississippi Plant – Loses Titan/Quest/QX56 – Adds?
As Titan moves out of Canton so does the Quest minivan and the Infiniti QX56 luxury SUV. Nissan earlier announced the Quest production was moving to Japan and out of Canton and that QX56 becomes a derivative of the next generation Nissan Patrol made in Japan. That leaves Canton with a line of production for the Altima mid-size car and the Armada full-size SUV.
Altima Provides Base for Next Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger
Nissan and Chrysler are teaming up on mid-size cars with Chrysler to replace their Sebring and Avanger mid-size sedans with derivatives of the Altima. Altima is an outstanding product and the Sebring/Avenger have proven to be duds. This way Nissan can pump up sedan volume at Canton (they also make Altima at their huge Smyrna, Tennessee plant). And probably somewhere in the fine print Chrysler closes their Sterling Heights (Michigan) plant making Avenger/Sebring. If this happens Chrysler closes a UAW plant in the North moving production to a non-unionized plant in the South. There certainly will be screaming if this happens.
Nissan hasn’t said anything about Armada, but it could provide the basis for Chrysler’s next generation of Aspen/Durango bringing needed volume to Canton’s truck line and allowing Chrysler to close another assembly plant in Delaware. Alternatively, Nissan’s Pathfinder Mid-Size SUV assembled at Smyrna could provide the basis for the Next Durango and Aspen and might be better for the times. In this scenario Chrysler closes a second UAW plant in the North. More screaming.
LCV is Untapped Potential
Nissan is filling Canton body-on-frame truck capacity with their upcoming LCV – light commercial vehicle. The way we understand it is that the LCV program will lead with a van in several different configurations and then will add a pickup version in heavy duty form. So, the Nissan Titan based on the Dodge Ram provides the light duty pickup and the LCV derivative gives Nissan three-quarter and one tons. Not mentioned, but could be on the table would be Chrysler getting access to Nissan’s LCVs to eliminate the Dodge Sprinter that comes from Daimler.
What About the Minivan?
Nissan has previously said they would source the next Quest from Japan, but they have consistently lost the minivan battle trying to go it on their own (or at one time with Ford’s Mercury brand). It would not be unrealistic to think Nissan could strike a deal with Chrysler to get a version of Chrysler’s minivan much like Volkswagen has with their Routan.