PARIS - The Nissan Xterra sport-utility could be sold in Europe as a Renault.
The Xterra has been a big winner for Nissan in North America since it was launched last May. Now Renault, which bought a controlling stake in Nissan last year, may want a version of its own.
'To sell it here we need to make sure that enough capacity is available in the USA, that we can offer a diesel version, and that the whole thing can be done at an affordable price,' said Georges Douin, Renault executive vice president for product planning.
The Xterra, which is derived from Nissan's Frontier pickup, is built at Nissan's plant in Smyrna, Tennessee, USA.
'We are also wondering if the successor to the Xterra could be manufactured in Europe,' said Douin.
He said Renault has not decided whether to build a luxury SUV based on the Koleos concept car shown at the Geneva auto show.
'It's not impossible,' Douin said. 'We can join with Nissan. Nissan has more reasons than Renault to have such a vehicle, considering its position in the US market.'
Douin said the partners are moving toward a combined product strategy. He said Renault wants 'complete commonality before 2010.'
'(Renault Chairman) Louis Schweitzer's idea is that sometimes the origin of the platforms - Renault or Nissan - will be forgotten,' he said.
The partners are jointly developing a common small direct-injection 1.2-liter diesel engine family that will power the next Renault Twingo, Clio and Nissan Micra.
Douin said Renault would eventually use Nissan's 3.5-liter V-6 in its cars. It will probably replace the current V-6 engine shared with PSA/Peugeot-Citroen. The agreement between Renault and PSA lasts until 2005.
More stylish Megane
Meanwhile, Douin said the replacement for Renault's best-selling Megane would have a more aggressive design than the current model.
The new Megane is expected in the second half of 2003.
'The future Megane sedan must compete with the Scenic,' said Douin. 'That means the sedan must assert itself more than the present model.
'We are trying to be nonconformist in the upper range,' he said. 'But that doesn't mean that we must remain conservative in the lower and medium segments.'
Renault sold almost 600,000 Meganes in western Europe last year, including 287,000 Scenic compact minivans.
Douin said the next Laguna sedan and wagon would be launched at the Paris auto show in October.
'The new Laguna must legitimize Renault in the upper-medium segment,' he said. 'We are targeting an 11 percent segment share in western Europe compared with 7 percent now.'
In the upper range, Renault's plans include the Avantime luxury 'coupe-space' and the successors to the Safrane and Espace.
'We want to go out there with innovative, distinctive products,' said Douin. 'Our approach is not one of a mass producer because we want to conquer in these segments, particularly outside France.'