Renault is looking to breathe fresh life into its flagging partnership with Daimler, just as the German company has focused on working with BMW and Geely.
The collaboration started in 2010, when the Renault-Nissan alliance and Daimler announced plans to develop a platform for the Smart and Twingo minicars. To demonstrate their commitment, Daimler took a 3.1 percent stake in Renault and Nissan each, while the Franco-Japanese alliance acquired a 3.1 percent stake in Daimler.
Renault-Nissan and Daimler have worked together on more than a dozen joint projects, but momentum ground to a halt in 2016. No new projects have since been announced and only one, the Renault Kangoo-based Mercedes-Benz Citan urban delivery van, has been extended.
Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard told reporters on Friday that he and interim CEO Clothilde Delbos “decided at the end of last year to re-trigger that alliance, because it was well worth it.”
“I can tell you that from the CEO of Daimler we got a very positive reaction and we are working very regularly with his teams to see how we can ensure that the future of that particular alliance can continue,” he said.
Former Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn and Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche were often considered to be the glue holding the partnership together. The two held their last joint press briefing on the state of their partnership in October 2018. Weeks later Ghosn was arrested in Japan on charges of financial improprieties, and Zetsche retired the following May.
By that point, however, Daimler was already shifting its attention to other partners. After Chinese automotive group Zhejiang Geely took a surprise 10 percent stake in Daimler, Zetsche and incoming CEO Ola Kallenius sought to find areas of cooperation with its new shareholder. This culminated in a March 2019 deal to sell half of Smart to Geely and produce the car in China.
Daimler has also increased its cooperation with BMW beyond joint purchasing to include Level 3 autonomous driving and mobility services.
Analysts by that point believed Daimler had lost interest in Renault-Nissan, as Ghosn had left and the French-Japanese alliance appeared rudderless.