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Nissan aims to double use of common parts in next cars

Published: February 27, 2012 | 10:33 am
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Nissan Motor Co said on Monday it will overhaul the way it develops cars by using common parts across different vehicle segments, cutting costs by nearly 30 percent and helping offset soaring spending to make cars safer and more fuel-efficient.

Japan’s No.2 automaker said the new engineering concept, dubbed Common Module Family or CMF, would double the use of common parts in the next generation of its vehicles to around 80 percent. The first cars developed under CMF will be rolled out in 2013, it said.

“Everything we’re trying to do is about two things: how we make things more in common with partners … and at the same time keep the specificity of each brand,” Carlos Ghosn, the chief executive of Nissan and French partner Renault SA , told reporters at Nissan’s R&D Center near Tokyo.

“(It’s about) how we can get the cost efficiency and investment efficiency while at the same time still get a very distinctive brand or product that people will not confuse,” he said.

Automakers typically lump vehicles with similarly sized underpinnings into “platform” groupings, developing a variety of offshoots from those bases. For Nissan, which has a full lineup of vehicles ranging from subcompact hatchbacks to large sport utility vehicles and trucks, it had been impractical to use common parts within a platform because the parts would have needed to be good enough for the heaviest product, which in turn would be too expensive for the platform’s lightest cars.

Under the new strategy, Nissan will have four modules — the engine compartment, cockpit, front underbody and rear underbody — each with variations that depend on vehicle weight and can be shared across platforms, it said.

Corporate Vice President Hideyuki Sakamoto said that would help Nissan use common parts across as many as 1.6 million vehicles, compared with the 50,000-200,000 that are covered now. He said Nissan aimed to eventually match the volume reach of Volkswagen AG , which pioneered the concept of commonization in the auto industry.

Nissan executives said the system would be shared in some form with Renault, but declined to go into specifics.


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