Nissan’s mighty Titan ute is a step closer to appearing on Australian forecourts, with local automotive development partner Premcar in the running to convert the monster four-wheel drive to right-hand drive on local soil.
The Titan would provide a new competitor to other locally converted big utes such as the Ram and Silverado, but without a feasible plan to swap the steering wheel, previous speculation has been conjecture at best.
However, Nissan’s collaboration with Melbourne-based vehicle developer Premcar – to produce the Australia-only Navara N-Trek Warrior – appears to offer the ideal solution.
Speaking to WhichCar, Nissan Australia managing director Stephen Lester revealed the Japanese car maker is talking not just to the company’s global head office about the possibilities for Titan, but also Premcar.
“This (Premcar partnership) affords us an opportunity to demonstrate just how successful and capable we can be in what would be a potential local conversion of Titan,” he said. “That’s more than likely the way the plan looks if it were to happen – the only way it would happen.
“We have no shortage of ambition to bring Titan to Australia.”
After a blast in Nissan’s newest Navara flagship, it’s clear Premcar has the expertise to produce the Warrior to a high standard, but Lester explained the hardest challenge was not engaging a local supplier, but to convince Nissan’s Japanese product execs to approve the venture.
“We’ve had discussions with them on it. The reality is that the work we have to do is with Japan not with local suppliers at this stage. We have meetings every couple of weeks.
“We will continue to fight the good fight. We believe [with] the right efforts from the engineering team in Japan and a team here locally that we could overcome the central and primary concerns for the Nissan brand.”
Those concerns, explained Lester, regard upholding Nissan’s customer expectations and the need to deliver a vehicle of a high safety, durability and capability standard, regardless of where in the world it is produced.
Premcar appears to be able to offer the smarts to deliver a Nissan-endorsed vehicle, but Lester described the remaining work required to get the project off the ground as a “chasm”.
Premcar engineering director Bernie Quinn also shed some light on the possibilities to convert the Titan and explained that the current Epping facility has capacity to expand into a new line, effectively double its current line operation and take on multiple new projects.
At least one of the new projects will be another Warrior product for Nissan and although neither partner would reveal which model was in line for the conversion, Lester confirmed it would be another serious off-roader like the Navara. Our money would be on the recently refreshed Patrol large SUV.
“As we go forward, that (Navara Warrior) engenders a lot of confidence for us in terms what we can do with Premcar and what they can deliver and how we can apply that to vehicles in different segments from just the Navara.
“There are other concepts outside the traditional back woods, in the bush, on the beach off-road that can come to mind because there are all sorts of environments that the vehicles are overcoming. What is really at the core though is no compromise. A battle-tested warrior.”
And the Titan Warrior concept that was revealed in 2016 would be an easy bet for the third Warrior to roll out of local production lines.
As for demand, Lester said dealers were being approached about the possibility of buying a Nissan-backed Titan locally, and added other sources of research were offering a barometer into demand.
“You only need to look on car aggregator websites that could suggest there already is demand by other opportunists in the market place and that’s probably the easiest example to show that the demand is there.”
Those ‘opportunists’ include Performax and American Vehicle Sales (AVS), who are offering locally converted examples for a price. If the cost of the new Navara Warrior is anything to go by, a Premcar converted Titan could significantly undercut the cost of independently altered versions.