a redesigned Altima, a freshened Pathfinder, and a new, 250-hp V6
engine. But the big news for pickup enthusiasts is right around
announced that the 2001 Frontier, a "freshening" of the current
model, will be unveiled at the Chicago auto show this spring. And
then, in an exclusive interview with PickupTruck.Com, Nissan revealed
details of its long-rumored full-size pickup, first
seen in sketch form on PUTC.
General Manager of Nissan North America told PUTC that while the
new V6 would be a good engine for a full-size truck, it wasn't enough.
"We've told (Nissan) that we want full-size, full power. So we want
"We told Mr.
(Nissan CEO Carlos) Ghosn the first time, in July, when he first
took over, he came out here. We had 15 dealers in, and the dealers
said, 'Full-size, full power.' One of the dealers went so far as
to say it'd be great if we had a V-10. Nobody would buy it, but
people like to know there's a big brother out there. So our goal
is full-size, full power. The target vehicle would be the F-150.
That's what we told them we'd like to have."
Ford, Dodge -- they are the market," Connelly noted, explicitly
discounting Toyota's Tundra as a paradigm. "They're big, they're
strong -- they're the ones that created the market. So that's what
the people want, and that's where we should be."
Will such a
truck appear in the near future? "We should have a decision about
it in the next couple, three, four months... Once the decision's
been made and the platform's been defined, we'll get our timetables.
I think it probably won't (appear) for maybe three years."
that despite Nissan's drive to simplify its product lines, the full-size
truck may be built on an all-new platform. "That's why they (Nissan
corporate) are looking right now, because they have to find the
right platform and the right engine. I don't think they want to
announce anything until they're sure they've got everything lined
up. I think in a couple of months we'll have an announcement that
will include all those details and the date it'll probably roll
chief Jerry Hirschberg told PUTC that design of the truck will be
a collaborative effort between Nissan's Japan and US design centers.
Initial sketches have begun in Japan, due to workload in the US
center, but NDI in California will have the final say in all aspects
of the truck's design.
With the success
of Frontier and Xterra, Nissan's Smyrna, Tennessee plant is running
flat out. Connelly announced at Detroit that production of the compact
Altima will be moved to Mexico, freeing truck capacity in Smyrna.
Will that be used for the full-size? That was part of the dealers'
mantra. "They said, 'Full-size, full power, designed in America,
built in America.' In addition to that, Mr. Ghosn has said he'd
like to have more U.S. production built in the US (Smyrna boss)
Jerry Benefield has been asked to take a look at production capacity
at Smyrna and see how much more he can get out of it," Connelly
to see the big Nissan sooner rather than later. "It's important
to the company. We know it. Mr. Ghosn also knows it."