Suppliers worked closely with Nissan engineers on the development of the new Almera.
During key stages of the car's development, between 30 and 50 supplier engineers were on site at Nissan's European Technology Center in Cranfield, Bedfordshire, south England. The Almera was completely designed at Cranfield.
But Nissan did not make major changes to the split of responsibility between suppliers and its own development team.
'It is their (the suppliers') responsibility to design for you,' said Almera Project Manager John Barrow. 'But at Nissan, we restrict their scope more than some other manufacturers.'
Nissan developed the specifications for the Almera's parts and asked suppliers for the most efficient solutions.
The Almera, code named the HS, uses Nissan's new MS platform. That platform also provides the basis for the Nissan Tino, Sunny and Pulsar.
Although some of the Almera's engineering work has been shared with the other MS platform vehicles, the carry-over content in terms of actual components is low, said Barrow.
'We started from a global point of view and we aimed to commonize development wherever possible,' he said. 'But at the same time, we wanted to maintain differences on a country-by-country basis in terms of the car's upper body and overall appearance.'
Barrow said the tuning of the Almera's dampers, springs and steering can also be adjusted for each individual market.
Almera components eventually will find their way into other cars produced by Nissan in Europe, said Barrow.
The steering wheel, introduced on the Almera, will be carried over to the new Primera. Other features, such as some of the electronic control units and control stalks, were designed for both the Almera and Primera.
With the Almera, Nissan made a concerted effort to understand what its customers wanted from the vehicle, and how they intended to use it.
As part of Nissan's Cogent program (see sidebar), Nissan asked suppliers for input into the latest trends in their fields of expertise.
'To try to improve the trend analysis we introduced an 'Ideas Concept Sheet',' said Barrow. 'That was an opportunity for suppliers to tell us about future developments and what could be required in the next few years.'
For example, the process generated new ideas about navigation systems and the technologies that could be employed.
The Almera has about 200 suppliers, a similar number to previous Nissan programs.