As we come out the other end of this global recession, automakers are struggling to adapt to a new world in which fuel economy standards are getting increasingly tighter and environmental regulations are taking center stage. One way for carmakers to quickly do that is by sharing what they know with other companies so that all the research and development can be pooled and the cost spread out among several players.
Towards that end, a few weeks ago I reported on a rumor that Renault, Nissan and Daimler were in talks to cooperate and form some sort of mega-alliance in which they would save greatly on research and development costs by swapping technologies that each company is specialized in but that the others may be lacking.
It now appears that a tie-up announcement between the three companies will be coming as soon as tomorrow.
Nissan and Renault have already been in their own alliance for the last 11 years in which Nissan has shared their significant EV expertise while Renault has shared their small car platforms and engine development. In that alliance Nissan owns about 15% of Renault while Renault owns about 44% of Nissan. By all accounts, that alliance has worked extremely well.
In the case of Daimler, they have significant experience with their micro-car Smart brand as well as with large displacement, high-end engines, but have been searching for ways to increase their ability to bring plug-in cars to market as well as increase their small car presence. Nissan and Renault have always lacked on in-house engine development. In the scenario that’s being reported in the media, Nissan and Renault would get relatively fuel efficient large displacement engines while Daimler would get access to electric vehicle technology and small car platforms.
Reportedly, the tie-up would be accomplished through additional cross-shareholding. It wouldn’t reach the level of the alliance between Renault, but it has been suggested that a much more modest 3-4% share might be traded between the three companies.