PARIS – With chatter swirling about potential expansion of the Renault-Nissan alliance, CEO Carlos Ghosn put his support directly into expanding the automakers' relationship with Daimler AG.
“We know we have a powerhouse,” Ghosn said at the Paris auto show.
“When you add the R&D of Renault, Nissan and Daimler, we are the largest in the industry,” Ghosn said. “We have every kind of technology, particularly if we get organized within ourselves. It can be a competitive advantage.”
For now, the Renault-Nissan alliance with Daimler is limited to light commercial vehicles, powertrain sharing and the combined development of Smart and Renault small cars.
However, Ghosn said that once those priority projects have achieved their “breakthrough,” the chance for further cooperation between the three automakers could expand into areas such as electric vehicles and battery development.
Ghosn and Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche are scheduled to meet with Daimler's supervisory board on Friday to discuss further areas of expansion, Ghosn said.
Ghosn said an alliance with Daimler would not necessarily quash some sort of cooperation with General Motors Co., another automaker mentioned as a potential partner. There are areas – such as development of a shared minivan – that would not conflict with any areas of Daimler products, Ghosn said.
However, Ghosn also downplayed such possibilities with GM as “more fiction than anything else, not even discussions.”
Ghosn is a firm believer in expanding the Renault-Nissan alliance, in order to expand scale, share development costs and better stretch the sales and marketing web.
The emergence of the BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China – has Ghosn feeling that Renault and Nissan cannot go it alone without another major automotive partner beyond the relatively small-scale alliances it has with companies such as Ssangyong, Dacia and Dongfeng.