For years, we've wondered which automaker will try to challenge one of the best selling vehicles in the South East Asian region: the Innova (or Kijang) MPV from Toyota.
Since 2004, the Innova multi-purpose vehicle from Toyota has had no serious modern competitors ever since it replaced the Tamaraw FX/Revo. That was also made even more apparent when Mitsubishi and Isuzu have had to phase out the Adventure (Freeca in other markets) and Crosswind (Panther in other markets), respectively, owing to more stringent emissions standards.
But that could change, and the competitor model could come from another Japanese marque: Nissan.
At a meeting with Nissan executives at their General Headquarters (GHQ) in Yokohama, Japan, AutoIndustriya.com asked whether Nissan is looking at a potential model to rival the Innova.
We asked the question given the trend in the industry. Most carmakers, particularly those that are strong in the ASEAN region, have a tendency to use their body-on-frame platform twice, typically for a pick-up truck and a pick-up passenger vehicle (PPV) model. Isuzu has the D-Max and mu-X, Ford has the Ranger and Everest, Mitsubishi has the Strada and Montero Sport, and Nissan has the Navara and Terra. Only Toyota uses a similar platform thrice: for the Hilux, Fortuner, and Innova.
The short answer, which came from Mr. Hiroshi Nagasuka, Nissan's General Manager for Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV) Product Planning, is yes: Nissan is definitely looking at a larger MPV model, but will not be released for quite some time. In his words, the company is still studying the project.
We already know -thanks to another senior Nissan executive- that the company is eager to leverage their still-fresh alliance with Mitsubishi to come up with a derivative of the smaller Xpander MPV which will compete against the Toyota Rush and Honda BR-V. But the model we asked about is going to slot higher in the model range, and will presumably be similar in size to the Innova.
Nagasuka also hinted that it is possible that they could take advantage of the alliance for the development of this, citing that the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance is their major strength from a global perspective.
A larger (albeit still technically "compact") MPV would be good for Nissan, particularly in emerging markets such as Indonesia, India, and of course, the Philippines. Last month, Nissan Philippines registered their best ever sales, led by what could be the brethren of this MPV in the study phase: the Navara and the Terra.
Does an Innova fighter from Nissan sound interesting?