Posts Tagged ‘frontier’

This is Sparky – The Nissan Leaf Pickup You’ll Never Drive

Posted by Stephen On Saturday, September 20th, 2014

What do you get when you cross a Nissan Leaf with a pickup truck?

Sparky Nissan Leaf Pickup

Nissan has a unique way of approaching corporate team-building exercises. Where most companies might build a bike, Nissan’s engineers build a car. That car is Sparky the all-electric ute (utility coupe), a green car that’s used as a parts hauler at Nissan’s Reliability Group in Stanfield, Arizona. Although this cool little car probably won’t ever become commercially available, it’s too cool not to cover.

Nissan Sparky with Reliability Group engineers

In case it’s not obvious from the front-end, this eco-friendly cargo hauler started life as a conventional Nissan Leaf. It’s the brainchild of Rolland Schellenberg and Arnold Moulinet, two head durability and reliability engineers at the expansive Stanfield premises. It started when Moulinet had to kill two birds with one stone – he needed a team-building project and a small truck to haul parts around the Reliability Group’s sprawling campus. He instantly thought of a Leaf pickup, and after a bit of research with Mr. Schellenberg, he knew it could be done.

To build Sparky, the engineers took the body of a Nissan Leaf and fused it with the cab of a Titan and the bed of a Frontier. The project took several months, not made any shorter by the fact that neither engineer held back on the bells and whistles. In the video at the bottom of this post, you’ll see how they added a power rear-window to the back of the cab and woody-style beams along the truck’s bed.

Sparky Nissan Leaf Pickup rear view

On top of that, Sparky is fully wired with head- and taillights, and has a surprisingly stylish finish with a voluptuous rear-end and distinct rear spoiler.

Apparently, Schellenberg and the rest of Nissan’s humble engineers actually wanted to keep their creation a secret, but visitors to the Stanfield center had other ideas. “We tried to keep it a secret and be exciting for everybody. But we have visitors and they come and they see that track and they go straight to ‘What is it?’”

For those of you food like to create your own version of Sparky the Leaf-based ute, all you have to do is spend years in the field of rough-road vehicle testing. Moulinet explained that his “main job here is working on rough-road vehicles … I’m pretty good at taking cars completely apart the bare frame and putting them back together again to resume testing.”

To hear the full story of how Sparky came to be, watch the video below:

Nissan NP300 Navara Pickup Officially Revealed, w/ Video

Posted by Stephen On Monday, June 16th, 2014

After two weeks of teasers, Nissan has finally pulled the curtain off their next-gen Navara midsize pickup truck. For two weeks we’ve waited, twiddling our thumbs in anticipation, and now we can finally have both images and videos of Nissan’s next contribution to the international pickup segment. Take a look for yourself below:

2015 Nissan NP300 Navara

Unfortunately, we’ll warn our US readers up front that this new Nissan NP300 Navara platform will not make it into the States. At least, not for several years. While the new Navara is expected to launch everywhere from the UK to Thailand by the end of this year, Nissan America is holding off on a new version of their Frontier pickup.


Because as we stated in our original preview article, the next-gen US-exclusive full-size Nissan Titan pickup is expected to debut at next year’s Detroit Auto Show. Frankly, Nissan North America doesn’t want to launch two brand-new pickups at the same time – it’s bad for business.

But, let’s get back to the truck at hand… Watch the video below to learn what’s new with the next-gen Navara:

Clearly, there’s a lot to be said about Nissan’s new ruggedly handsome pickup.

To start with, it features an all-around more modern silhouette with curvier front- and rear-end styling than the outgoing model. Traits like Nissan’s new V-motion chrome grille, a shortened front clip, new slanted LEDs, a lower roofline and a higher beltline all help create an image that’s both tough and refined. The ‘smooth’ trend continues in the rear where the bumper and taillights have been slightly redesigned for a more modern look, while a blacked-out B-pillar helps keep the look feeling open and unrestrained.

Unfortunately, we don’t have any specific measurements to help you compare the current Navarra with this new one. Nissan has said that they’ll offer a variety of different body types, bed lengths and powertrain options from market to market, while the same King and Crew cabins will be available on all models. However, Nissan has stated that the new Navarra is both wider and sturdier than the outgoing model, complete with bigger tires for rigorous off-road driving.

Inside, the new Navarra gets a plethora of new technologies and designs, which we think are best illustrated through Nissan’s second promo video, embedded below:

And here’s an image that offers a closer look at the interior styling:
2015 Nissan NP300 Navara interior

As you can see, the new Navara has a much more SUV-feeling interior than the current one. Nissan says that they worked very hard to give customers exactly what they wanted, and you can see that their efforts have really paid off. Roomy, modern and comfortable are all words you could use to describe this truck.

Beneath the hood, you’ll find that default Nissan Navara comes with improved versions of the same two powertrains found in the outgoing model. The first is a 2.5L four-cylinder DOHC diesel with either 161hp or 188hp depending on trim. The second is an in-line 2.5L four-cylinder gas engine with unspecified output. However, while the engines remain the same, Nissan estimates the new Navarra is 11% more fuel efficient than the current one. This is mostly due to a lower curb-weight and more efficient engine technology.

Nissan Teases a New “Special” Pickup Truck

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

It looks like a new generation for an as-yet-unknown Nissan pickup truck is coming just in time for summer. Earlier this week, Nissan posted the picture seen below on their global Instragram account with the tagline, “There’s a special member of the Nissan family on the way. Due date: June 11”.

New Nissan Pickup Truck

The picture alone doesn’t tell us very much about whatever this new pickup truck might be. All we can see is that it features a totally new grille unlike anything on any current Nissan pickup, along with new boomerang LEDs.

But, what exactly are we looking at?

As you may know, Nissan currently manufactures two different pickup trucks – the full-size Nissan Titan and the mid-size Nissan Navara / Frontier. As you continue reading, we’ll examine what model this pickup will likely be and why.

Let the speculation commence!

First, let’s look at what evidence supports that this could be the next-generation Nissan Titan. Even though it it’s hard to judge the truck’s size from a single veiled image, it definitely does look like it’s got the proportions to be a full-size pickup. Furthermore, the humongous grille that’s barely visible beneath the curtain looks a lot closer to the current Titan than the current Navara. With these two factors in mind, it’s easy to see why several other auto blogs believe that this new truck is the next Nissan Titan.

The only problem?

The Nissan Titan is a US-exclusive model. Why would they tease a US-only pickup truck on their global Nissan account when they have a perfectly good Nissan USA Instagram? For the record, Nissan USA hasn’t posted anything about this new truck on either their Instagram or Twitter. In addition, Nissan has already sort-of hinted that we’ll see the next-gen Nissan Titan at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show.

This leads us to believe that the image at the top of this post actually previews the next-gen Nissan Navara / Frontier. It also makes more sense that this would be the “special member” of Nissan’s family since the Frontier has been around, in one form or another, since 1986.

Therefore, even though both Nissan pickups are long in need of updates (the Titan hasn’t seen any major updates since its launch in 2003), it seems most likely that the Frontier is the one getting a new generation. The current Frontier debuted in 2004, so it really is past due.

As for our Titan fans, don’t worry… Nissan has already hinted that the next-generation Titan will likely debut early next year, so you’ve only got a little while longer to wait.

In the meantime, you can watch the promo video for the new Nissan pickup below: