Mike Stevens | May 27, 2010

NISSAN AUSTRALIA has confirmed that it will sell the current-generation Y61 Patrol alongside the incoming P61G 2011 Patrol, which is due to arrive sometime next year.

However, in an interview with TMR, Nissan Australia CEO and Managing Director Dan Thompson said that a powertrain upgrade for the long-serving Y61 is not on the cards.

“Certainly we’ll continue to keep the product fresh through model year updates,” Mr Thompson said.

“We just did that about six months ago to get a bit more technology into the vehicle, but certainly at this stage there are no plans for powertrain or significant life-cycle events on the model's way out.”

Although both the Y61 and P61G will be sold under the Patrol nameplate, each model will occupy opposite ends of the off-roader spectrum.

The Y61, with its rugged engineering and near-bulletproof hardware, will be the workhorse of the range while the P61G will be a more comfortable and civilised alternative – a strategy similar to that used by Toyota with its Landcruiser 70-series and 200-series.

Click to read TMR's review of the 2010 Nissan patrol Ti

According to Thompson, neither model will step on the other’s toes in Nissan showrooms.

“We’re looking at whether that elongation strategy for Y61 makes sense, I certainly believe it does,” he said.

“We’ll continue to sell Y61 as long as the market demand is there, and it makes sense from a portfolio perspective.

“With P61G coming in and sitting up top in a very premium section of the large SUV segment, Y61 will have a very relevant role to play - as D22 does in the Navara range today.”

The 2011 Nissan Patrol will be the more civilised and luxurious model of the pair.
The 2011 Nissan Patrol will be the more civilised and luxurious model of the pair.

However, Mr Thompson said that “it’s too early to tell” whether Nissan Australia will trim back the Y61 Patrol range and only offer a stripped-down variant for off-road enthusiasts, commercial customers and government fleets.

“In my opinion Y61 will have a role now, a year from now, two years from now. When we launch P61G it will still have a role,” Mr Thompson said.

“When we get closer to that time we’ll define precisely what that role is, what’s the market demand and what’s the product that we need to put into that space,” he said.

“It’s probably a bit too early to say what the market is going to want two years from now, but we have the flexibility with Y61 to adjust as we go.”

“We still do get people who want the larger seven-seat full size SUV for private use, and that’s why the last change we made was focused on technology.

“Fleets, mining companies and government departments are still quite happy and pleased with what the Patrol offers, so there’s a mix between the two types of customer.

“Over the next couple of years we’ll see how that consumer versus fleet mix changes – if it does so at all - and that will certainly be what drives our decision on what we do with Y61 from a product perspective.”

One likely change will be the deletion of the petrol variant from the Y61 range. Last year less than five percent of Patrol sales were for the 4.8 litre petrol model, however petrol sales have since petered out to become “absolutely insignificant” today.

Asked if Nissan Australia would consider dropping the petrol powertrain altogether, Mr Thompson replied, “absolutely”.

However, the all-new P61G Patrol will arrive in Australia with the same direct-injected 300kW 5.6 litre petrol V8 that was unveiled at the model’s launch in Abu Dhabi earlier this year. Nissan has not yet revealed what engine will power an inevitable diesel variant.

“What’s been unveiled globally is the 5.6 litre petrol, and that is what we will launch with,” Mr Thompson told TMR.

“Certainly that car will come here, even though the segment as a whole is predominantly diesel,” he said.

“We understand that for volume there’s a necessity for diesel, so that’s something we’ll continue to work on.”

Although nothing has been confirmed, Nissan’s newly-developed 170kW/550Nm V9X 3.0 litre turbodiesel V6 could possibly find its way into the all-new Patrol, as could a version of Mercedes-Benz’s V6 or inline four turbodiesel engines.

“We do have plenty of options when it comes to a diesel P61G, whether it’s through our alliance with Renault or the recently announced alliance with Daimler,” Mr Thompson said.

“What will come of that is obviously too early for us to tell, but our strategic partnerships and arrangements give us plenty of options.

“It’s just a matter for us of finding what’s the perfect diesel solution for P61G.”

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