NASHVILLE — Chrysler LLC and Nissan Motor Co. have suspended plans to share a Japan-built car and U.S.-built pickup, citing a need to review the business case for each.
The announcement last week raised questions not only about a next-generation Nissan Titan pickup based on the Dodge Ram but also about the future of Nissan-Chrysler co-operation.
Nissan has been planning to phase out Titan production in Canton, Miss., and begin receiving the Chrysler-built Titan in 2011. Also under review is a plan for Nissan to build a small fuel-efficient car, dubbed the Hornet, in Japan for Chrysler to export to global markets.
In a statement, Nissan North America Inc. said: "Because of current economic conditions, Nissan and Chrysler teams working on the two ... projects have been asked to ensure that financial objectives for both companies can be met before these two projects move forward."
Given Chrysler's uncertain future — it presents a viability plan in Washington this week and has formed a tentative alliance with Fiat — the delay leaves open the possibility that the two projects could be scrapped, although neither Nissan nor Chrysler gave any indication of that last week.
They did say that a third vehicle-sharing project will continue on schedule — Chrysler will sell a version of Nissan's compact Versa sedan in South America. That vehicle is not scheduled to come to the United States as a Chrysler product.
A spokesman for Nissan North America in Franklin, Tenn., said the project interruption will not affect the current supply of Titans. He declined to speculate about the next generation of the truck.
The automakers blamed the interruption of the Titan and Hornet projects on a worsening economic picture, including dollar-yen exchange rates, that is throwing sales forecasts in doubt.