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Nissan reviews Patrol platform
Monocoque or ladder chassis? That's the question that faces Nissan when it comes to the next Patrol
20 Aug 2002
By JOHN MELLOR
NISSAN Motor Company executives remain undecided if the next generation Patrol will continue with a chassis or move to a monocoque body. However, Nissan will consolidate its off-road and light truck range, including the next Patrol, on to a common truck platform from which its various workhorse and off-road vehicles would be derived.
The plan is to use a common base but to develop "a family of platforms" from that common base.
According to Nissan vice-president of planning, Patrick Pelata, the company at present has six different platforms for its all-terrain wagons and pick-up range - including X-Trail.
"Now were are making a family of platforms with much smaller differentiations.
Except Patrol. Patrol will share a lot of features of these platforms but it will be the most differentiated platform."Mr Pelata said it is too early in the program to say whether the next-generation Patrol - the styling of which has already been hinted at in the Crossbow concept car - would retain a separate chassis.
"Patrol is an icon for us. In many countries it is the only car by which we are known by customers who are far from us. So we have to be in line with that.
"But being in line does not mean we are not going to transform the concept. In line means we have to keep all the basics concepts and put those in the new concept and then add things and maybe in the end it makes a significantly different car."Nissan head of design, Shiro Nakamura said one issue was that Patrol is a very hard core 4x4. Nissan did not want to take it towards the BMW X5 monocoque structure because Nissan had developed the Murano crossover 4x4 and the FX45 Infiniti to cover that X5 segment.
Mr Nakamura said the Crossbow show car does not look like the final version of the next Patrol, "but it is showing the directions were are heading".
Mr Pelata said new versions of the Patrol and Pathfinder were being grouped into Nissan's expanded pick-up and SUV off-road range being developed for the US market.
"We are just starting to work on the next Patrol. As you know we are also doing a full sized SUV and pick-up for the US market.
"The question for us is how do you do that? You have to be huge, you have to be very powerful and at the same time we have to be Nissan. So we have to be different because just offering another Ford F150 or a Silverado is meaningless."Mr Pelata said Nissan's US truck ambitions were to have modest volume expectations based on a more niche offering.
"We have looked at the current contenders of the full sized pick-ups, we have looked at segmentation and we have found that some customers were not so happy with their current SUVs and pick-ups. We have focussed on them because they were quite numerous. So they are a good target for us.
"I think we can have a powerful, tough and highly technical four-wheel drive car and at the same time be very thoughtful for the customer and provide a lot of new features that in fact the customer wanted to have and had not (being getting).
"You will see the result in Detroit in January."Mr Pelata said a new Pathfinder was on the way and would be available in Australia next year.
"The first generation was very successful. It was tough, rough and affordable and in a way we want to come back to this. But also the market has moved a lot and people now want more luxury inside, they want more comfort, they want a lot of utility in the seat arrangements. So we are doing that."
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