Chrysler had their 2009 full-line press preview last week; hence, all these posts about Chrysler recently.
Just about every auto scribe on the continent was there, so you also catch up with your colleagues at events like these.
Was hanging around the new Dodge Ram pick-up - not necessarily my kind of vehicle, but one does have to keep up-to-date, doesn't one? - and chatting with Paul Weissler who writes for, among others, Popular Mechanics magazine. Paul is one of the senior members of our profession, as well as one of the more technically astute, not to mention doggedly determined - and opinionated.
Not that that is a bad thing.
We began discussing the Nissan Titan family of vehicles (Titan, Pathfinder, Armada, Infiniti QX56). These were all US-designed and -built, in Nissan's attempt to grab pieces of what were at the time two of the largest and most profitable segments in the North American market, full-size pick-ups and SUVs.
That was then.
Not that I know that much about such vehicles, but even by my standards I never liked these big Nissans much. I found them all unattractive (admittedly, a subjective issue), cheap-looking inside, noisy and sluggish to drive.
Paul disagreed completely, which shows there
is always room for differences of opinion. He can choose to be wrong if he likes.
Because I have someone pretty important on my side of this argument - Nissan. They have decided to get out of the full-size pick-up business, and have Chrysler build variants of the new Ram for them, starting in early 2011. At least part of the motivation for Nissan is to grab a share of the new full-size truck two-mode hybrid powertrain Chrysler is launching in Aspen and Durango this year, and in Ram in 2010.
The big Nissan SUVs will soldier on for at least another year or two, but I bet their replacements will be Chrysler-based also.
In return, Nissan will build a new Versa-based small car, something Chrysler desperately needs in this era of sky-rocketing fuel prices. I have also heard rumours of a Nissan-built compact pick-up which they would also share with Chrysler. This is a market segment Ford seems to have all to itself with the you-can-buy-a-brand-new-antique Ranger.