Nissan Motor Corp. plans to use more common visible parts as part of a bid to cut costs, increase quality and cement the brand’s identity. Nissan global design chief Shiro Nakamura told Automotive News that parts like items like steering wheels, side mirrors and door handles will be increasingly standardized across the lineup.
While the move might result to cookie-cutter looks and a cheapened image, it could earn the aforementioned benefits if done right. "There are cost and quality benefits," Nakamura said on the sidelines of the Detroit auto show. He remarked that the trick will be elevating trim on entry-level vehicles to that of pricier segments.
Typically, Nissan, as well as most carmakers, fit their lower-tier models with lower-cost steering wheels, mirrors, handles, audio systems and climate controls. With its newest plan, Nissan would standardize the designs of these parts, albeit, at a higher level. He said that that additional volume would result to lower costs and better overall quality.
He noted that the standardization is aimed at raising the perceived quality of Nissan's lower-cost models while unifying the brand's styling. He added that cost savings will be used to engineer better components and create more sophisticated designs. Nakamura said that most customers won't be able to notice the standardized parts, "if it is carefully managed."
Nissan is currently using a modular platform to underpin its models. It is working with alliance partner Renault SA on the new platform -- the Common Module Family, or CMF. Having common parts means being able to trim purchasing costs by between 20 and 30 percent and cut investment in engineering by between 30 to 40 percent.
The first fruit of this modular strategy was redesigned Rogue crossover that was rolled out in late 2013. The Renault-Nissan is expected to complete the launches of the first CMF vehicles in 2016. The Japanese and French carmakers target to produce 1.5 million midsize and larger vehicles a year using common parts.