The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

16 April 2008


It's only a couple of models, officially, but nonetheless, Chrysler and Nissan are drawing closer together:

Highlights of the new agreement:

Nissan will manufacture an all-new, fuel-efficient small car based on a unique Chrysler concept and design. This new segment entry for Chrysler will be sold in North America, Europe and other global markets in 2010, and manufactured at Nissan's Oppama Plant in Japan.

Chrysler will manufacture a full-size pickup for Nissan. Based on a Nissan unique design, this truck will be manufactured at Chrysler's Saltillo (Mexico) Assembly Plant. In order to accommodate this product, Chrysler will shift volume from Mexico to its U.S.-based assembly plants that produce pickup trucks. Sales of the pickup in North America will start in 2011.

Things which come immediately to mind:

  • Nissan's Titan is definitely a full-size truck, but it's fifth in a five-vehicle market, and Consumer Reports reviles it. Not that CR is that fond of your basic Dodge Ram.

  • To some Nissanophiles, Oppama is the home of the Maxima, even though they started building them Stateside for 2004. (And it's Gwendolyn's home town.) However, I haven't yet heard any cries of "Blasphemy!"

  • Is Chrysler admitting that they can't afford to build one of their own designs?

  • And perhaps most important, is this a prelude to Something More?

The first Chrysler/Nissan hookup was announced back in January: Nissan will rebadge the Versa for Chrysler sale in South America. (Chrysler was buying transmissions from Nissan's Jatco unit before that, but this was the first deal for a whole car.) It's probably premature, but I wouldn't be surprised, somewhere down the line, to see Nissan's Carlos Ghosn showing up in Auburn Hills with a cashier's check and a collection of golden parachutes for Minimum Bob Nardelli and friends.

And neither would the Autoextremist:

[Ghosn] will maximize the Chrysler facilities (at least the ones he deems worth saving), he will pump up the Jeep brand globally by putting real muscle behind it, he will weed out the Chrysler product lineup both current and future (not that it would take a genius to figure that out), and he will approach the U.S. market with a unified product strategy that he has so desperately wanted.

In short, Ghosn will get what he has always wanted, which is to become more than a second-tier player in the U.S. market.

Me, I'm amused by the idea of Renault (Nissan's European partner) and Jeep back together again. Heck, if they want to bring back American Motors, it's fine with me.

Posted at 3:58 PM to Driver's Seat

How very ironic that back in the day when Daimler-Chrysler's stock ticker symbol was "DCX", Nissan was being bruited about by insiders as the "X"...

Posted by: Tam at 10:40 AM on 17 April 2008