Renault-Dongfeng China JV to rely heavily on Nissan

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GENEVA -- Renault will rely heavily on its alliance partner Nissan for manufacturing staff in China, where it will start producing locally built crossovers with Dongfeng Motor Group in 2016, said Jacques Daniel, CEO of Dongfeng Renault Automobiles.

"We will use a lot of people from Nissan's manufacturing staff in China," he said at the auto show here. "We will get the design and r&d staff from Europe."

The joint venture will use the same suppliers as Nissan, the CEO said.

The new models for China will be developed at Renault's Guyancourt technical center outside Paris, he said. But in the future, the joint venture would use local talent for r&d.

The Renault-Dongfeng partnership needs to gain a competitive edge despite being a latecomer by harnessing the experience of Nissan, from dealerships to marketing to technology.

The French carmaker lags behind General Motors, Volkswagen Group and Ford Motor in China, the world's biggest auto market. Renault makes half of its sales in Europe, where car demand is at a two-decade low.

Daniel provided no further details on the upcoming China-built crossovers other than to say that they won't be sold in Europe under the Duster badge. He said the joint venture was "waiting to hear" whether it would be building an electric vehicle, and did not elaborate on the timing of the launch of the JV's local brand.

"It's a little vague at this stage," he said. "The crossovers will keep us very busy over the next three years."

Daniel declined to give production targets other to say that the JV is targeting a 3 percent market share in China.

Renault and Dongfeng signed the 7.76 billion yuan ($1.28 billion) partnership agreement in December. The joint venture plant will have an initial production capacity of 150,000 vehicles per year, with the potential for double that in the near future.

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