Nissan develops global light-duty truck platform

TOKYO -- Japan's Nissan Motor Co. said on Thursday it has developed a common platform for light-duty trucks that would be used on the new Cabstar and other models in future to maximize efficiency.

The new platform, along with another one for panel vans, will replace Nissan's 11 unique platforms for light commercial vehicles (LCVs) by 2010, enabling the company to reduce costs by using common parts.

Developed jointly by Nissan's engineering division in Barcelona and Japan, the platform will first be used on the new Cabstar, which goes on sale in Europe in September, Japan's second-biggest auto maker said in a statement.

The Cabstar will continue to be built at Nissan's plant in Avila, near Madrid.

Nissan has identified the LCV business as one of its major growth areas, setting its sights on becoming one of the world's leading makers along with the General Motors and Ford Motor Co. groups.

Under the current business plan, Nissan is aiming to boost LCV sales by 40 percent to 434,000 units over the three years to March 2008, and doubling the segment's operating margin to 8 percent.

In the business year that ended on March 31, Nissan's LCV unit sold 400,000 units and posted a profit margin of 7.7 percent.

"The development and introduction of the new light-duty truck platform demonstrates that Nissan is taking its place in the global commercial vehicle market very seriously," Andy Palmer, corporate vice president of the LCV business unit said in a statement.

Nissan, held 44 percent by Renault SA, said it had no plans now to share the new platform with the French car maker, which is one of its main LCV partners along with China's Dongfeng Motor Corp.

LCVs are defined as business-use cars, vans, trucks and buses with gross vehicle weight of under 8 tons. Light-duty trucks range between 2.8 to 15 tons.

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