TOKYO - Nissan Motor Co. said it will slash the number of platforms on which it builds cars and light trucks to five from 24 by 2005.
At the same time, said President Yoshikazu Hanawa, Nissan intends to cut development times for all new models to a world-best 12 months.
Following these plans will enable Nissan to grab 6.0 percent of the global auto market by 2000, up from 5.4 percent in 1996, he said.
Although carmakers in the USA and Europe have cut costs drastically during the last decade, they still generally trail Japanese carmakers in product-development time.
Nissan's targets, if achieved, would widen that gap.
10 months faster
Platform sharing offers the potential for saving considerable costs as well as time, said Hanawa.
'This will enable us to shorten the development lead time for a new model by around 10 months, compared with the development of a completely new platform,' Hanawa said.
He cited Europe as an example of the sharing he plans. There, one platform will be the foundation for the replacement for the UK-built Almera, which Nissan will begin building in 2000, and the two new multipurpose vehicles Nissan will launch at its plant in Spain.
To further speed new-model development, Nissan is introducing a new computer-aided design system that will link the development process from concept creation and planning to production.
Nissan aims to slash its new-model development time, currently at 19 months at the shortest, to around 12 months. Hanawa did not set a target date for reaching the 12-month goal.
Among the new models in Nissan's pipeline are several due this autumn that use Nissan's Hyper continuously variable transmission mated with a direct-injection gasoline engine. The combination can boost fuel economy by about 50 percent over current vehicles.
In the fiscal year beginning 1 April, Nissan plans to launch a hybrid car that uses both a gasoline engine and electric batteries, Hanawa said.
Nissan also plans to convert nearly all its diesel engines to direct-injection by 2000.
Those engines improve fuel economy by about 40 percent over current diesels.
Nissan will launch its first model with a direct-injection diesel this spring. Tadao Takei, executive vice president for domestic marketing and sales, said the engine will be in the 2.0- to 2.5-liter range.
Takei said diesels currently are more popular in Europe than in Japan, but he said he expects Japanese consumers to shift from gasoline engines 'because the performance will be so good.'
Hanawa also said that all nine of the new or fully redesigned models Nissan will launch in Japan this year will be available in low-emission versions.
The low emission versions will cut emissions in normal city driving to one-tenth the level currently required by Japanese regulations.
The new models will be key to Hanawa's goal of boosting Nissan's market share in Japan from 20.2 percent in 1997 to 25 percent by 2000. (Those figures exclude mini vehicles with engines under 660cc.)
If Nissan also can maintain its current 4 percent share of overseas markets, that will lift it to the 6 percent global share Hanawa wants.
At that point, Hanawa estimated, Nissan will sell 1.3 million vehicles in Japan and 2.0 million overseas.