|Teaser sketch of new Nissan compact. Click to enlarge.
Nissan will reveal its new V-Platform technology and an all-new global compact car employing that technology at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2010. (Earlier post.) The V-Platform will be incorporated into at least two other models over the next three years.
Breaking with conventional practice that focused on launching production in established markets such as the US, Europe and Japan, and then localizing for emerging markets, Nissan has instigated measures to start production of the completely new model at overseas manufacturing sites such as India, China and Thailand. In other words, Nissan’s objective is to build a series of models on the same platform at three overseas production sites for sale in more than 160 countries.
|Nissan video newsletter featuring engineering and product executives on the new compact car.
To achieve this goal, Nissan developed an all-new production process to maintain its quality levels, packaging and competitive pricing.
This project was borne out of three critical factors, Nissan said: growing customer needs for compact cars in emerging markets; Nissan’s lack of a strong presence in this segment which occupies more than 20% of the world market; and the opportunity that such a global strategy gives Nissan to utilize both global reach and technical capabilities.
Nissan’s new engineering initiative was fine-tuned to meet the requirements of the new V-Platform, models and production method, while keeping costs down.
We were told from the outset that we would be working on not just a new car project, but instead a “breakthrough.” The directive also stipulated that we’d be working on a series of cars, not just one model, and that we were expected to create a whole new method in the way we develop cars. And this new line-up of compact vehicles had to generate huge volume as well as profits.—Noritaka Tsuru, Former V-Platform Chief Engineer, currently General Manager, Vehicle Project Purchasing
Nissan invited local engineers from the three main sites of production in India, Thailand and China to the Global Production Engineering Center (GPEC) at Nissan Zama Operations Center to learn the Nissan Production Way (NPW). Then the company sent Japanese support staff with their overseas counterparts back to their countries to assist with start-up procedures at all three plants.
In that way, Nissan maintained its high quality levels while at the same time optimizing local production methods with a localization rate of over 80%, a critical factor to avoid unnecessary costs such as logistics and import duties. As the project was deployed in three emerging countries at the same time, local production staff and suppliers instructed in the NPW are supporting each other by exchanging information and working together on quality optimization.
By building a dedicated new platform for the global market, we were able to improve fuel economy and CO2 emissions and also fit the cars to a high specification while building them down to an affordable price.—Vincent Cobee, Corporate Vice President and Program Director of the V-Platform.
Cobee believes that one million vehicles per year, based on the V-Platform at the project’s full ramp-up, is possible.