Nissan has announced the completion of a 2.3 hectare test site to help enhance the development of its four-wheel drive technology. Located at its Motegi test facility in Japan, the new circuit was designed to replicate different real-world driving conditions from across the world and includes a rocky section simulating rough mountain terrain, a desert road and a 30 degree incline slope.

The news comes as Nissan scales back its production of heavy-duty pickups and focuses on developing new vehicles utilizing monocoque construction instead of the older body-on-frame design. Automotive News recently reported that Nissan is suspending its heavy-duty pickup program and may even scrap the current range altogether. The older design requires unique components such as a dedicated frame, suspension and transmission, which may no longer be profitable.

Nissan's product development boss Carlos Tavares said “not all but part of the SUVs are going to shift to monocoque, unibody.” This means that Nissan will eventually abandon some of its body-on-frame SUVs such as the Infiniti QX56 and the Nissan Pathfinder, and replace them with lighter and more fuel-efficient crossover designs. The fact that Nissan has built an all new test track dedicated to such vehicles shows that it believes there’s still some life in the segment.