Sunday, February 15, 2009

Nissan Titan: One and Done...

Unfortunately it looks that way...Nissan and Chrysler announced today that they are ceasing cooperation on the development of not only the Nissan designed, Chrysler built 2nd Generation Titan but also what was to be the Nissan built, Dodge Hornet.  With Chrysler on the verge of bankruptcy and likely to cease existing in anything resembling its current form within a month or less and Nissan posting its first annual loss in a decade and promising to rework its entire lineup, canceling many models and introducing a number of others, this is not surprising but it is disappointing for Nissan fans in general and offroad Nissan fans in particular.

The Wall Street Journal article from 2/15:
By Jeff Bennett

Detroit--Chrysler LLC Thursday said its work with Nissan Motor Co. on the development of the Dodge Hornet and Nissan Titan pickup truck have been put on hold as the two companies evaluate their financial futures.

"Due to the current economic conditions, Nissan and Chrysler leadership directed their teams working on the two projects to work together in the first quarter of 2009 to improve the financial objectives for both companies before the projects move further forward," Chrysler spokesman Dave Elshoff said in a written statement late Thursday.

Chrysler announced in April that Nissan would build a fuel-efficient small car that Chrysler would then sell in North America and Europe under the Dodge Hornet name.  In return, Chrysler would build Nissan a full size pickup truck -- based on Nissan's design -- at its Saltillo, Mexico, assembly plant.

A third project, in which Nissan agreed to supply Chrysler with a new car based n the Nissan Versa sedan for limited distribution in South American in 2009 is still progressing.

Earlier Thursday, Vice Chairman Jim Press said work with Nissan continued when asked about a news report from Japan saying Nissan had shelved the joint venture.  Kyodo news service said Nissan had suspended preparatory work for the Chrysler tie-up, citing sources close to the deal.

Mr. Press didn't provide further details in his keynote address and the Chicago Auto Show.

Nissan, Japan's #3 auto maker, said earlier this week it will revise its product portfolio, including the cancellation of selected future programs after its first annual operating loss in 14 years.

Mr. Press also cautioned that the industry should not expect a rebound to historic sales levels when the economy rebounds.

"We need to accept and come to grips that sales could stay at this 10 million level for four more years," he said in reference to overall U.S. light-vehicle sales, which fell to 13.2 millin last year from a recent average of 16 million.

Chrysler and General Motors Corp. executives are racing to pull together the final pieces of their viability plans that must be submitted to the U.S. Department of Treasure on Tuesday.

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