Renault and Nissan aim to rejuvenate their two-decades-old cooperation with a range of industrial projects as part an agreement that will see Renault reducing its stake in its Japanese partner.
The two companies plan to present details of their deal in London on Feb. 6, sources said.
Renault, Nissan and junior partner Mitsubishi Motors will embark on about five projects, code-named “reloaded,” with others to follow, sources said.
One involves India, where the companies operate a plant on the outskirts of Chennai making small cars, engines and gearboxes, and another is for joint work on commercial vehicles. Other projects will spur closer collaboration in Latin America.
It was not immediately clear if already announced deals to produce the successor to the Nissan Micra in a Renault plant in France and Mitsubishi's new ASX and Colt models in Renault plants in Spain and Turkey would be considered part of those five projects.
Nissan also plans to invest in Renault’s carved-out electric-vehicle business Ampere, sources said.
Renault had proposed working together on 10-15 projects, French newspaper Le Figaro reported.
The desire to agree on fresh common projects signals the companies see a joint future for the 23-year-old alliance that had to be pieced together again after the arrest of former leader Carlos Ghosn in 2018. Tensions spilled over into Japanese-French politics when Ghosn openly contemplated merging the two companies before his shock arrest.
The alliance has operated joint plants, parts purchasing and development of common underpinnings for a range of vehicles, saving costs and creating one of the biggest automotive groups in the world. But complex organizations, cultural differences and missteps nearly brought down the partnership.
"The interest for each of the partners is now to be able to move forward without, for example, Renault’s management getting distracted in endless trans-national politics," said Pierre-Yves Quemener, a Stifel analyst with a buy rating on the carmaker.
The redesigned alliance will allow CEO Luca de Meo to move on with a complex split of Renault in five separate businesses, including Ampere.
Leaders of the two companies met via video link on Thursday. A source close to the matter said the meeting had gone off "without a hitch" but there were details that still needed to be worked out.
"As of today, we cannot say that we have reached an agreement," said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks are confidential.
The source added there was no major gap between the two companies and that the negotiations were unlikely to break down. But he also said that the Feb. 6 date for an announcement was not written in stone yet.
The boards of the two companies still need to individually approve a potential deal after Thursday's meeting.
The future shape of the alliance highlights how the immense technological upheaval in the auto industry is forcing companies to both partner and compete with newcomers and tech companies. Renault, for instance, has said it will partner with companies from China's Geely Automobile Holdings to semiconductor giant Qualcomm
Renault is separately working to finalize a deal with Geely and to bring in Saudi Arabian state oil producer Aramco as an investor and partner to develop gasoline engines and hybrid technologies.
Nissan has been concerned that the technology it has developed while partnered with Renault could leak to the French automaker's partners as it restructures. One of the sources who spoke to Reuters on Thursday said those concerns had now been addressed.
The deal will see Renault reduce its stake in Nissan to 15 percent over time from 43 percent to eliminate lopsided capital ties that have been a cause of friction for years.
Renault has consistently declined to comment publicly about the talks. A Nissan spokesperson declined to comment.
Bloomberg and Reuters contributed to this report