Ashwani Gupta was named head of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliances new cross-company light commercial vehicle business unit in 2017. He is responsible for vans and pickups across all three brands, and he is working to find synergies through common platforms and technologies, develop new markets such as China, and integrate Mitsubishi, the newest member of the alliance. He spoke with Automotive News Europe Correspondent Peter Sigal about what the unit has accomplished in the past year, and what the future holds for LCVs.
It has been a year since the alliance established a separate business unit for LCVs. What have you learned in that time?
We clearly saw the business grow for all three brands. We have confirmed a fourth common platform between Renault and Nissan. We have a common platform for the Renault Trafic and Nissan NV300, we have a common platform for the Master and NV400, we have a common platform for the Alaskan and Navara pickups, and now we will have a common platform for the Kangoo and NV200.
Any other big changes?
The second big achievement is the launch of the Alaskan from our Barcelona plant, which belongs to Nissan but makes the pickup for three brands, Nissan, Renault and Daimler (the X class). This is important in terms of cross development and cross marketing. The third achievement relates to China, where Renault has set up its joint venture with Jinbei Brilliance, and Nissan has started selling the Navara there. We will soon be launching a second frame-based Nissan SUV in China. Finally, we have started working on a future pickup platform with Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi, now in the advance product planning stage. We have a long product planning cycle, so we start with market intelligence. That’s why if we do this exercise together it gives us better efficiency and effectiveness. We start talking about common products, common platforms, cross-manufacturing and cross-development.
What are the primary goals of the Jinbei joint venture?
There are three things we are going to do. No. 1 is we will focus on the current business and will expand the Jinbei brand. No. 2 is we will launch some upgrades of the Jinbei brand. No. 3 is we will be introducing Renault-branded vans in this joint venture. Our plan is to sell 150,000 vehicles annually by end of Renault’s Drive the Future plan in 2022.