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Chrysler and Nissan call it quits on car, truck sharing

Chrysler and Nissan call it quits on car, truck sharing

Lindsay Chappell
Automotive News | August 27, 2009 – 12:01 am EST


NASHVILLE — Chrysler Group, whose new Italian partner, Fiat S.p.A., is preparing to supply Chrysler dealers with European-designed small cars, on Wednesday scrapped plans to share vehicles with Nissan Motor Co.

The decision means:

• Nissan will not supply Chrysler dealers with a small car for global markets starting next year.

• Nissan will not provide Chrysler with a Nissan Versa-based sedan to sell in South America.

• Chrysler will not build the next-generation full-sized Nissan Titan pickup starting in the 2012 model year.

“It was decided it was in the best interests of both companies to end the projects,” Chrysler and Nissan said in a joint statement.

That leaves Nissan with a bigger problem than any facing Chrysler.

Nissan will continue producing Titans at its plant in Canton, Miss., through the 2011 model year. Beyond that, Nissan now must scramble to either find a different manufacturing partner to produce the next Titan or create the truck’s next generation on an abbreviated schedule.

“We’re exploring our options,” Nissan North America spokesman Fred Standish said.

The announcement comes on the heels of press speculation that Chrysler’s new 20 percent owner, Fiat, soon will begin putting a version of its compact Fiat 500 into production in North America for Chrysler Group dealers. That would bolster Chrysler’s lineup in a market that has shifted from large vehicles, where Chrysler has excelled in the past, to more fuel-efficient small cars, where the automaker has been weak.

Chrysler’s altered status as a Fiat partner is made clear by the scope of today’s project cancellation.

In February, as Chrysler teetered toward bankruptcy and an uncertain future, Nissan and Chrysler said they would temporarily halt work on the global small car and Titan projects. But they said they would press ahead on the deal to sell a Chrysler-badged Versa in South America, despite the corporate uncertainties.

Today’s news signals Chrysler is now taking a larger world view of its product plans under Fiat leadership.

Nissan was developing the global car to be built in Japan to Chrysler specifications, Nissan officials said earlier this year. Chrysler was planning to build the Titan on its Ram pickup assembly line in Saltillo, Mexico, using interior and exterior design plans provided by Nissan.

PRESS RELEASE: The following is a joint statement from Nissan and Chrysler

Nissan and Chrysler today announced a mutual agreement to end three OEM vehicle-supply projects announced last year.

For the past several months, teams from both companies have been studying the viability of the projects in light of significant changes in business conditions since the projects were announced in January and April of 2008.

Today, it was decided it was in the best interests of both companies to end the projects.

The projects had involved:

1. Nissan providing to Chrysler a compact sedan for the South American market beginning this year.

2. Nissan providing to Chrysler a small vehicle for global markets beginning in 2010.

3. Chrysler providing to Nissan a full-size pickup truck starting in 2011.

A separate agreement involving the supply of transmissions from Nissan affiliate JATCO to Chrysler remains unchanged. That agreement has been in effect since 2004.

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