Renault-Nissan and Daimler today announced a broad strategic cooperation to share everything from engines, platforms and even procurement services, and in the process potentially save billions of dollars for all parties involved. The two groups also announced an equity exchange that will give Renault-Nissan a 3.1 percent stake in Daimler and Daimler a 3.1 percent stake in Renault and a 3.1 percent stake in Nissan.
The cooperation will include the co-development of the next-generation Smart Fortwo and Renault Twingo, including electric versions, as well as on expanding the Smart and Twingo families, powertrain sharing and co-development on future projects for both passenger vehicle and commercial segments, and a closer collaboration between the companies’ respective luxury units, Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz.
The successor to the current Smart Fortwo, a new four-seater vehicle and the next-generation Renault Twingo will be engineered on the basis of a jointly developed architecture. All vehicles will clearly differ from each other in terms of product design. One main characteristic of the new architecture will be the unique rear wheel drive concept used by current smart vehicles.
The launches of the jointly developed models are planned for 2013 onwards. The Smart plant in Hambach, France will be the production location for the two-seater versions, while the Renault plant in Novo Mesto, Slovenia will be the production location for the four-seater versions. Right from its market launch, the jointly developed future models will also be available with an electric drive. Nissan is also expected to launch its own model based on this new platform.
The focus of the cooperation in the powertrain area is on the sharing of highly fuel-efficient, diesel and gasoline engines between Renault-Nissan and Daimler. Renault-Nissan will provide three and four-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines out of its portfolio to Daimler, and in return Daimler will provide gasoline and diesel engines out of its current portfolio to Infiniti. This includes four- and six-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines. Renault-Nissan and Daimler will also cooperate on future gasoline and diesel engines.
The new deal also included the establishment of a long-term framework for all the parties to work closely on future areas of cooperation. Namely, these include opportunities to be studied on shared modules and components between Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz vehicles, and regional cooperation in the U.S., China and Japan. Speculation as to what else may come of the Infiniti-Mercedes pairing is precisely that, for the moment, but we have an inkling that there may be a small sedan (think C-Class badges, but possibly smaller) built in Alabama and shared between the two brands, along with a shared powertrain. Other possibilities include a smaller crossover and a B/C-Class combo vehicle to help both automakers meet impending fuel efficiency requirements while boosting volume, and therefore cutting costs. In addition, opportunities to co-develop technologies relating to electric vehicles and batteries will be explored between all three parties.
Pictured above is the CEO of Renault-Nissan, Carlos Ghosn, and the CEO of Daimler, Dieter Zetsche, formally signing the agreement.