A senior Nissan Motor Company official says the Japanese maker is still open to partnering with the post-bankruptcy Chrysler on its next-generation Titan pickup, but is looking at other alternatives if that alliance doesn’t materialize.
Nissan launched its full-size truck to much acclaim, six years ago, but sales have never lived up to expectations, and with the need to update the offering, the company had hoped to reduce development and production costs by partnering with Chrysler on a new version of Titan that would be based upon the American maker’s big Dodge Ram. With sales of just over 10,000 Titans to date in 2009, or off 50%, the program volumes are challenging.
Though that deal appeared to be sealed, everything was put back up in the air by Chrysler’s forced bankruptcy, earlier in the year. The automaker has re-emerged under the control of Italy’s Fiat, but Larry Dominique, who oversees truck operations for Nissan, in the U.S., told TheDetroitBureau there has been no answer from Chrysler yet as to whether it will want to move ahead on the Ram-Titan project.
That appears to reflect what other industry sources have observed, that the Fiat-dominated Chrysler is in the midst of turmoil, as its new Italian masters shake up the organization. A number of Chrysler executives have left the company and others are being repositioned, but for the moment, it’s not completely clear who is in charge of what.
Nissan is hoping to get an indication of Chrysler’s willingness to proceed, but even then, cautioned Dominique, it will need to work back over the details of the program to ensure that it can still prove a successful alternative to building a next-generation Titan in-house.
There are other options, Dominique explained, stressing that the number of potential partners who might be willing to work with Nissan, “has grown exponentially.” On the other hand, only a relative handful of manufacturers actually have experience specifically producing full-size pickups. Besides Chrysler, that includes General Motors, Ford Motor Company and Toyota, and while the executive didn’t specifically refer to them by name, it seems unlikely, he hinted, that any of those would want to partner with Nissan on a product that might give them competition.
If Nissan did go with a partner other than Chrysler, it would look to do more than just buy a replacement for its Titan. “We have our own V-8,” said Dominque, which a partner might want to use in its own products.
Nissan is hoping to get an answer from Chrysler soon, but it is beginning to look at other alternatives, rather than wait.