Interview: Nissan's Patrol program manager Carla Bailo; Nissan Keeping Titan Options Open
Automaker Still Exploring Partnership; Armada SUV's Future Uncertain
During the recent launch of the 2010 Nissan Patrol in Abu Dhabi, Motor Trend caught up with Patrol program manager Carla Bailo and asked her a few questions about Nissan's SUV plans in North America.
Truck Trend: Have you killed the Armada?
Carla Bailo: Right now it is still TBD. We are going to continue building the current Titan-based model as long as it is physically possible -- meaning as long as it meets all the necessary requirements: emissions, safety, etc.
TT: Where are you going to build it?
CB: In the U.S. at Canton.
TT: I thought NV [Nissan's commercial vehicle designation] was replacing it there?
CB: We are putting commercial vehicles there, but there are two separate lines so fundamentally, we have the capacity to continue to build and we still have demand. So as long as we have the demand, we are going to continue.
If you remember, we were going to make our next Titan off of the Chrysler. When Chrysler was bought by Fiat, that deal was suspended and we are not continuing with that. We are looking at doing another in-house design and we are keeping our options open as to whether we work with someone else.
That new generation may or may not include an SUV, it really depends on what we see in terms of the market segment itself, if there is going to be demand or an opening or if we believe that segment is going away.
Clearly, the luxury SUV is something that we have to stay in. It is going to be there no matter what really happens with the economy. It has definitely shrunk, but there is still customer demand for that product. However, we are not sure if there is still customer demand for an economical version of that kind of product, whether it is going to be replaced by the larger crossovers -- the monocoque, not frame-based products that are much more environmentally friendly and better for cost of ownership.
So clearly we are going to have another Titan since there is a strong demand for that globally. But whether we turn that into an SUV is still TBD.
TT: Surely, this vehicle [the Patrol] is sophisticated enough that it could go to America with an Armada badge?
CB: Right now we have discussed the potential. Quite frankly, this is still a little bit more sophisticated than the Armada, so we are not sure if it is right for that segment.
TT: Are you not able to deliver at the right price?
CB: Possibly. We would have to do some tuning and possibly de-contenting, but it is not totally off the table. That's why I am saying that we are not sure if we're going to make a new SUV with the next generation Titan. We have talked about this. There are many options on the table, but first we have to decide if there is going to still be a segment for this and whether we have a place in it.
TT: So Titan can go on without Armada, but Armada can't go on as a stand-alone product.
CB: Correct. They have to come off the same platform.
TT: And if Titan comes off the same platform with someone else, then the likelihood of it becoming an Armada increases?
CB: I am not necessarily saying that because we just don't know at this point. Our product planning teams are studying and there is a vast array of options, we just have to wait and see what happens with the segment.