By on December 17, 2009

Wanna make out? Picture courtesy modernmechanix.com

Remember when Japan’s Nikkei said: “The latest round of partnerships is widely seen as just the beginning of a major shakeup of the auto making industry?” A kind of Japanese company, Renault (partner of Nissan) is engaged in heavy petting with yet another partner.

Reuters says French carmaker Renault is in talks with Daimler and others about partnerships. Areas covered include engines, transmission platforms, and access to new technologies, Renault COO Patrick Pelata confirmed today. He added: “We are discussing serious matters with Daimler.”

A Daimler spokesman had the usual milquetoast “We speak to various manufacturers, including Renault, about possibilities to cooperate.” Adding “including Renault” is slightly unusual.

Both companies need help.

Daimler AG saw demand for luxury cars collapsing in the second half of 2008. In the January-to-November period of 2009, sales were down 11.8  percent at 1.02m cars sold worldwide.

Despite profiting heavily from various European cash for clunker schemes, Renault’s passenger car sales in the first 11 months of the year are down 2.1 percent to 1,852,917 vehicles.

On top of the malaise, there is this green trend that costs a lot of green in development money. You want to spread that across as many units as possible.

Pelata said that carmakers should “try to share the costs of access to new technologies, like the electric vehicle, batteries, fuel cells — anything that is very expensive … and which is a fixed cost but which they don’t want to abandon because they think these technologies could be necessary in the future.”

What’s more, both companies are looking with trepidation at 2010. All forecasts, including Pelata’s, say that next year, the European car market will contract as the C4C wears off. Pelata sees a 10 percent downturn for Europe in 2010. For key markets like Germany, a 25 percent drop is expected by several industry associations.

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