Nissan to Sell Chrysler Truck - So What About the Armada?

April 14, 2008
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With today's announcement from Auburn Hills and Tokyo that Chrysler and Nissan would trade product for product, the speculation on more deals between the automakers grew louder.

Earlier this year, the two automakers outlined the basics of the deal, which had Nissan producing a compact car for Chrysler to sell in South American markets. That car was to be based on the Versa compact on sale already in the U.S.

But as times change, so do plans -- and today's word from Chrysler and Nissan is that in addition to the original pact, Nissan would also supply Chrysler with a "fuel-efficient small car based on a unique Chrysler concept and design." This car will also be sold in North America, the duo added. Bloomberg also reports that car is due in 2010.

So what is it? Nissan has long sold an older version of its Sentra in Mexico and could rebadge that car for Chrysler to also sell in Mexico, but there seems to be some harmony building for a compact car that could replace the Caliber/PT Cruiser/Jeep Patriot and Compass range as well as the next Sentra/Rogue/Versa trio. But the key detail here was that the new Chrysler car would be built by Nissan in its Oppama, Japan factory -- which could make it a smaller entry distinct from the Sentra lineup entirely. Possibly a coupe, a production version of the Urge concept car? Most likely, as Chrysler seemed to hint at in an afternoon conference call, is a car spun from the next Nissan March compact due in two years' time.

At the other end of the deal, it seems Nissan's days building full-size trucks in Mississippi are coming to a close. Nissan will receive a version of the Dodge Ram to sell in the U.S. starting in 2011. That vehicle will be built in Chrysler's Saltillo, Mexico plant, leaving Nissan's factory in Canton, Miss., free to build commercial vehicles as the Japanese automaker said it would last week.

Left unmentioned is Nissan's Armada full-size sport-utility vehicle, based on the Titan pickup. Nissan had previously said it would move the Infiniti QX56 production back to Japan, but hasn't said a word on the fate of the Armada. With slow sales and a big seven-passenger crossover coming next year, it's possible the Armada name will simply die, along with Nissan's vision of taking on Chrysler, Ford and GM in the full-size truck market.

And left completely in the open -- is Chrysler the American partner that Nissan's been looking to add to its global alliance with Renault?

Tell us what you think - and what you know about the Armada's future and the upcoming Chrysler-badged Nissan.

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