PARIS -- Renault and Nissan announced plans to expand the scope of their global alliance Friday. The partners will increase their joint manufacturing operations and cooperate more on platforms, powertrains, vehicle engineering, logistics and r&d activities.
The French and Japanese carmakers reiterated previous promises to save 1.5 billion euros this year through enhanced cooperation. They say that productivity gains will lead to even more savings in the future.
For the first time in the alliance's 10-year history, Renault's and Nissan's cooperation plans will be managed by a dedicated cross-company team, which starts work Monday, June 1.
The 11-member team -- six people from Nissan and five from Renault -- is charged with finding, proposing then implementing solutions that lead to more harmonization and standardization across the two carmakers' operations.
"Over the last decade, we used the Alliance to develop win-win synergies between Renault and Nissan, and that approach worked well when both were profitable and growing," Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said in a statement.
"Today, we have to move faster," Ghosn said. "Seeking synergies is no longer optional, but mandatory."
Build together and save
This year, the two companies expect to save 363 million euros through shared manufacturing and logistics.
Renault will begin manufacturing two Nissan vehicles -- the Frontier pickup and the Livina minivan -- at its factory in Curitiba, Brazil, while Nissan recently added production of Renault-badged pickup and the low-cost Sandero hatchback at its South African assembly plant.
By year-end, 11 vehicles will be covered by cross-manufacturing agreements, according to the statement.
Until now, joint manufacturing operations have been principally limited to small cars such as the Renault Clio and Modus or Nissan Tiida/Versa, Note, and Micra, which are all produced on a shared platform.
Renault and Nissan project they will save another 289 million euros this year from powertrain sharing and an additional 279 million euros through the use of common platforms and inter-changeable components.
Desforge will be a key player
Engineering cooperation efforts are being led by Odile Deforges, who took over Renault's Paris-based engineering and quality operations earlier this year.
Desforges has been asked to bring her knowledge and experience with joint purchasing, gained during a seven-year reign atop the Renault Nissan Purchasing Organization (RNPO), to the planned engineering cooperation.
During Desforges' tenure at RNPO, joint purchasing activity rose from 30 percent of the two companies' total volume in 2001 to 85 percent in 2007, representing more than 6 billion euros in savings, according to Credit Suisse calculations.
Sources have told Automotive News Europe that moving Desforges to the engineering and quality post shows a commitment to sharing platforms, future products and technologies with Nissan.
The automakers already have linked new engine development as well as their electric vehicle programs, and are also working together on a common platform that will get its first use on a new entry-level subcompact to be built at an alliance factory under construction near Chennai, India.
Desforges told ANE that her so-called Tomahawk program aimed to force the use of interchangeable parts, like air and oil filters and air conditioning components, across the two companies' product lines.
A single core component in air conditioning systems will be used on 24 different subcompact and compact cars in the coming years, the companies said in the statement.
Other areas where the partners expect to save money through synergies in 2009 include:
Purchasing (157 million euros)
Sales and marketing (147 million euros)
R&d (115 million euros)
Light commercial vehicles (102 million euros)
Information systems and support functions (48 million euros).