How Ghosn will push alliance to 14 million sales

Ghosn said that most of the alliance's growth will come from emerging economies.

Photo credit: Reuters
Peter Sigal is a France-based correspondent with Automotive News Europe.
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PARIS -- Carlos Ghosn has always been careful to say that the success of the Renault-Nissan alliance should be measured in synergies among the partners, not sales growth.

Even so, Ghosn said last Friday that the alliance that he chairs, which now includes Mitsubishi, would be selling 14 million vehicles annually by 2022, a 33 percent increase over this year. The alliance was the world's No. 1 automotive group by volume in the first half, selling more than 5.26 million vehicles, he said.

Ghosn played down the importance of those figures as he laid out the alliance's strategy for the next six years, but he admitted that growth will be vital to achieving his financial goals. Those include a doubling of synergies to 10 billion euros from 5 billion euros, and total revenues of $240 billion from $180 billion in 2016.

"Sales is not and has never been an end in itself, but our increasing global presence creates additional opportunities of economies of scale," he said. "We will boost synergies by relying on more common platforms and power trains, sharing innovation in electrification, connectivity and autonomous drive technology and mobility services."

Ghosn has drawn criticism for not moving fast enough to integrate Renault and Nissan platforms and powertrains. The alliance has been in place since 1999 yet last year just 2 million vehicles were built on two common platforms.

In one example, the Nissan Micra is built at Renault's plant in Flins, France, alongside the Clio and Zoe but does not share a platform with either vehicle.

Ghosn pledged to increase that figure to more than 9 million alliance vehicles on four common platforms. He said two new platforms would join the alliance's CMF common architecture, one for subcompact cars such as the Micra, Clio and Captur crossover and one for electric vehicles, likely shared between the next-generation Renault Zoe and Nissan Leaf.

Alliance vehicles will share 22 engines out of 31, or 75 percent, compared to 14 shared engines among 38 last year.

Analysts Evercore ISI said in a report Friday that Ghosn's volume predictions are "ambitious," assuming an annual growth rate of 5.8 percent.

Growth regions

Ghosn said that most of the alliance's growth will come from markets such as China, India and Southeast Asia and from recoveries in Russia, Brazil and the Middle East.

"We are assuming that most of the mature markets will be stable," he said about the United States, Europe and Japan. "Most of our growth is not going to come from there."

First-half results from the Renault Group seem to bear this out. Sales of passenger cars and light commercial vehicles rose 51 percent in the Asia-Pacific region; 19 percent in Africa, India and the Middle East; 15 percent in South America -- but just 5.6 percent in Europe.

The alliance's expanded size will also likely be an asset as it struggles with the implications of costly technologies like electric vehicles and autonomous driving that have yet to deliver significant revenue.

Evercore ISI said the alliance's increasing size would let it "leverage expensive future technologies over significant global volumes."

Renault and Nissan have been pioneers in electrification with the Zoe and Leaf, but competitors are gathering in every segment, from upstarts such as Tesla to deep-pocketed German brands such as Mercedes-Benz and the Volkswagen Group. Ghosn said the alliance would introduce 12 new electric vehicles by 2022, staking out its territory in the mass market and affordable sectors.

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