PARIS -- Renault and Nissan have taken another step toward integrating their global alliance, announcing the creation of a joint light commercial vehicle business unit in an effort to reduce costs, share technology and increase sales in a growing segment.
The unit will be led by Ashwani Gupta, the head of Renault's light commercial vehicle operations since 2014. Both automakers will retain their own brand identity, sales and revenue, the alliance said in a statement. Mitsubishi, which joined the alliance last year after Nissan bought a controlling stake in the company, will also play an as-yet-undefined role.
"The combination of Renault, Nissan and the early collaboration with Mitsubishi Motors in a single alliance LCV business unit will boost sales and deliver greater synergies," alliance CEO Carlos Ghosn said in the statement.
In February, Ghosn stepped down as CEO of Nissan, saying he wanted to "devote more time and energy to managing the strategic and operational evolution and expansion of the alliance."
The three companies combined sold more than 1.5 million LCVs in 2015, the alliance said. Nissan sold 815,490 vehicles, while Renault, including its Russian subsidiary AvtoVAZ, sold 443,931. Volume at Mitsubishi reached 248,000.
Top sellers were the Renault Kangoo, at 118,200 units, and the Nissan NP300 Navara, at 196,497 units.
"Renault is good at vans and Nissan is good at trucks," said Catherine Loubier, a spokeswoman for the alliance. "We can expect the expertise of Renault will be put toward the production of vans -- and the same for Nissan for trucks."
Nissan and Renault already collaborate on a number of vehicles including the Nissan NV300 van, built on the Renault Trafic platform, and the Renault Alaskan, built on the Nissan Navara platform.
The unit will also handle body-on-frame SUVs, including the Nissan Armada and Patrol models.
Mitsubishi and Nissan said this month that they were studying joint production of pickup trucks in Southeast Asia.
Loubier said the new unit would focus on increasing sales in strong and emerging markets, including the U.S., China, Russia, India and the ASEAN countries.
Gupta joined Renault in 2006 in India, as general manager for purchasing. In 2011, he was appointed global program director for Datsun, leading product development in India, Russia, Indonesia and South Africa.