Nissan’s Navara and Mitsubishi’s Triton utes are set to become twins-under-the-skin following the former’s $3 billion investment in the latter.
Nissan last week bought a 34 per cent controlling stake in Mitsubishi. Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said the new alliance would allow the two Japanese brands to share technological development, manufacturing and common vehicle platforms.
Ghosn said sharing platforms would have mutual benefits, especially in terms of saving substantial development costs whether a Nissan or Mitsubishi platform was used as the basis for particular models.
Nissan’s Navara is already the basis of a forthcoming Mercedes-Benz ute called the Mercedes-Benz GLT, as well as the new Alaskan ute from current partner Renault.
The company admitted it is “very possible” the same platform would be used for the next-generation versions of the Navara and Triton, but stressed that the two utes would still have distinctive looks and feel, and different specifications.
It would mirror the current arrangement between Ford and Mazda, which produce, respectively, the Ford Ranger and BT-50 utes on the same platform, though both look markedly different inside and out.
The Holden Colorado and Isuzu D-Max are differentiated to a lesser degree but also share basic underpinnings.
Nissan and Mitsubishi have recent form when it comes to sharing ute production. Between 2012 and 2014 the previous-generation Navara was run down the assembly line as the Triton in Mitsubishi’s Laem Chabang plant in Thailand.
Nissan’s move comes at a time when Mitsubishi is embroiled in a fuel economy scandal after admitting it had reported false consumption figures for a number of domestic models.
Nissan sells four times more vehicles globally than Mitsubishi, with approximately 4 million annual sales.