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Ghosn says Nissan may stop Titan production; Chrysler LLC alliance claimed

Automotive World; by Glenn Brooks; 17 December, 2007

Nissan officials have denied that the company has made such a decision, but in an interview in the latest issue of Newsweek magazine, the OEM's chief executive, Carlos Ghosn, states that production of the company's full-sized pick-up truck may be axed.


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Originally Posted by Automotive World
Nissan officials have denied that the company has made such a decision, but in an interview in the latest issue of Newsweek magazine, the OEM's chief executive, Carlos Ghosn, states that production of the company's full-sized pick-up truck may be axed.

"The name of the game is going to be more fuel-efficient cars," Ghosn states. "And when you make your product plans for the future, you can't say, 'I've always had a pick-up truck, so I'll just keep improving it.' If you can't make it profitably, you have to get out," he adds.

The Titan, launched in 2003 and facelifted earlier this year, is scheduled to be replaced in 2010. Nissan builds this rival for the Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra, Ford F-150, Dodge Ram and Toyota Tundra at its Canton, Mississippi plant. Although sales have held up relatively well this year despite the continued rises in the price of gasoline, the Titan has a 5.6-litre V8 as standard, while rivals offer six-cylinder base model variants.
The company's own data shows Titan sales totalled 60,961 for the year to the end of November 2007, down 8.8% from 66,617 year-on-year. In the same period of 2007, the company imported 72,159 units of the Murano SUV, its best-selling light truck and a model that has been in its last year of production with the replacement recently unveiled.

In possibly related news, the 15 December edition of Japan's Nikkei newspaper claimed that Nissan and Chrysler LLC are currently in talks to set up a vehicle cross-selling agreement. The story was also carried by The Financial Times in its weekend edition. The London-based broadsheet stated that the alliance would benefit Chrysler in Russia while both partners could gain from plant-utilisation efficiencies in North America.

Under the terms of the alleged agreement, each of the two constructors would sell the other's vehicles under its own brand, the Nikkei reported without naming sources. The cross-selling agreement could also be a prelude to a broader partnership between the two groups, which would involve the sharing of production sites, the paper continued.

With the Michigan-based OEM set to release a new generation Ram full-sized pick-up in 2008, sources have speculated that Ghosn's statement may be a precursor to Dodge building the next Titan for supply to Nissan North America.
Under an existing deal, Chrysler LLC is set to manufacture a version of its Chrysler Town & Country/Dodge Grand Caravan minivans for Volkswagen of America from 2008. The company already builds a rebadged Dodge Dakota mid-sized pick-up for Mitsubishi, while Nissan is to supply Suzuki with a rival model, based on its Frontier pick-up, which is also US-built, from next year.
 

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