By on September 14, 2011

Dieter Zetsche and Carlos Ghosn had their intimate luncheon with selected members of the Fourth Estate today. It took place in the not so fancy, but highly convenient Maritim Hotel, which has a prized asset: A private entrance to the Frankfurt Motor Show. It, and the Marriott across the street, are the hottest properties in Frankfurt during Motor Show days. The TTAC-dispatched fly-on-the-wall reports from the luncheon:

  • Infiniti will base a premium compact vehicle on the Mercedes MFA platform (Mercedes compact-car class), starting in 2014.
  • Renault is studying the use of Mercedes modules for future upper-range offerings.
  • Daimler will provide batteries from their production facility in Kamenz, Germany, and Renault-Nissan will provide electric motors and power electronics for the use in electric vehicles (smart and Twingo ZE). First releases will occur in 2014.
  • Zetsche and Ghosn confirmed that their engineers made significant progress on all of the original three projects that the companies announced last year. Everything is going according to schedules:
  • The smart/Twingo project is on track for an expected launch in the early first-quarter of 2014. Two-seater smart production will be in Hambach, France, and four-seater smart and Renault production will be at Renault in Novo Mesto, Slovenia.
  • The all-new entry-level city-van project for Mercedes-Benz is also on track with expected launch end 2012. Production at Renault in Maubeuge, France.
  • A cross-supply of powertrains is on schedule. The Nissan-Renault Alliance will supply Daimler with compact three-cylinder gasoline engines and four-cylinder diesel engines to be used in the small-car segment (smart, Twingo) as well as in the jointly developed light commercial vehicle and in Mercedes-Benz’s next generation of premium compact cars. Daimler will supply Nissan and Infiniti with four- and six-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines from the current and future engine portfolio.

That’s a lot of sharing without a lot of shares. While Volkswagen got nothing from its Suzuki investment, Ghosn pulled off the trickiest cross-cultural alliance there is: A fruitful and harmonious tie-up with Daimler.

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16 Comments on “Daimler and Nissan-Renault Share Platforms, Batteries, Engines, Engineers...”

  • avatar
    Hildy Johnson

    This alliance seems to make a lot of sense. On its own, Smart is going nowhere fast, and Infiniti is also borderline scale-challenged.

    The small scale of the exchange of shares gives the impression that the focus really is on technical cooperation. Dr Z seems to be a straight shooter, quite different from his predecessor Schrempp.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeh, Dr. Z sure is a stright shooter. He did shoot Chrysler right between the eyes. That’s why he was promoted to run Daimler.

      And an Infiniti based on a Benz product? Well there goes the quality of that division. Hopefully Ghosn is smart enough and tough enough to keep Daimler out of the “cookie jar”.

  • avatar

    Hope this turns out better than the last time Diamler ventured into the “volume” market (remember the Chrysler division?). By the way Zetsche ran Chrysler during that fabulous time.

  • avatar

    I can just imagine an amicable Daimler/Nissan-Renault on a double date with VW/Suzuki, and all the really awkward moments at dinner where the latter couple’s playful back-and-forth escalates into a full-blown spat that compels the maître d’ to notify them that they’re disturbing the other diners.

  • avatar

    Well, let’s see how Daimler hoses Renault Nissan. We’ll know in about 3-5 years…

    • 0 avatar

      Hear! Hear!

      Hope Daimler doesn’t leave any marks on what is at the moment the world’s fastest growing car conglomorate (with the possible exception of Hyundai-Kia) à la the Chrysler-Daimler debacle.


    • 0 avatar

      Everything I ever read about the Daimler-Chrysler fiasco indicated that Daimler was staffed by control freaks who seriously thought that nobody else could conceivably understand how to design a car. They took the most profitable car company on earth, blew up all of the systems that were working quite well, and substituted all of its own processes. The larger vehicles (where Daimler at least had some experience) fared tolerably well, but the smaller vehicles (Sebring, Caliber) were disasters.

      Maybe Renault-Nissan will retain some autonomy, and if so, maybe this will work. But maybe not.

  • avatar

    I am wondering what those who howl about even the potential for a Cadillac compact car or who complain about Lincoln and Buick having one will make of Infiniti having a compact car.

    Seems like a lot of this, from Mercedes perspective, was driven by Smart’s failure.

    Also isn`t Renault doing relatively badly in Europe? Nissan is doing well in the US but Renault is just regional.

    • 0 avatar

      @mike978: I think a lot of folks have no clue as to how much our automotive landscape will change with the adoption of higher CAFE standards, even though they were not as high as some would like.

      Why else would BMW and others tout their new cars with four cylinder (in some cases turbo-ed) engines? Even the thriftiest six cylinder engine is going to be too costly (to mfrs) to sell with out a capable four cylinder companion. Some mfrs, like Hyundai (and now GM) won’t even bother with a six cylinder variant of their mid-sized cars for this reason, IMO.

      Bottom line: Every mfr’s luxury division will have a compact 4 cylinder car. Just to meet CAFE in the US and probably other markets too.

    • 0 avatar

      mike, Renault is not just regional. In BRazil for example they’re outgrowing the market by a great margin and of the major brands, they’re the ones growing the most (21% when I last checked). Also, from what I read of Matt Gasnier’s blog, their Logan/Sandero lione does quite well in North Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe, not to mention South America. Brazil alone is going to sell 3.6 to 3.8 million cars this year (which would place it in 4th place worldwide) and Renault in poised to get almost a 7% slice. If Ford is not careful, Renault could actually pass them next year and become the 4th largest company here.

      From what I read on TTAC and elsewhere, Nissan is growing mightily in Asia. And in Brazil they’re about to the launch the all important Nissan March. ALl impoertant because it is a subcompact hatch, with a 1.0 flex fuel engine. If Nissan gets real on pricing (like Renault did and is thusly reaping the rewards) they could end up having a top ten seller that could eventually threaten the leaders (who all sell more than 10k a month, or in the case of the top 2 more than 24k a month). If they however pretend the March is a “premium” product like Kia does with its Picanto and place it in the top price brackets of that market, it’ll become just a nich car and sell 1000 to 2000 a month.

      So I say Nissan and Renault show potential to grow more and more. And I for one hope the Mercedes thing doesn’t distract them.

      • 0 avatar

        Renault is a regional brand: Europe and Latin America. It has been in decline ever since the alliance with Nissan. The Renault Group (including now Dacia and Samsung) produces about he same number of cars (2.5 million) today as Renault alone did 10 years ago. Nissan, which at the time of the alliance produced about as many cars as Renault, sold over 4 million cars in 2010. The alliance worked out very well for Nissan, but Renault got screwed. Ghosn put all his efforts into Nissan, and has only shown contempt for Renault.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      “Infiniti having a compact car”


    • 0 avatar

      I am wondering what those who howl about even the potential for a Cadillac compact car or who complain about Lincoln and Buick having one will make of Infiniti having a compact car.

      It would depend upon where it’s launched. I wouldn’t do it in the US, but it might work for other markets.

      Seems like a lot of this, from Mercedes perspective, was driven by Smart’s failure.

      It’s not unusual for car companies to form R&D alliances. I don’t see how a successful Smart would have made any difference.

      Nissan is doing well in the US but Renault is just regional.

      During 2010, 37% of Renault Group’s sales were outside of Europe. It’s not a large player overall in the global market, but it does count on the global market for a lot of its sales.

      And Nissan is part of the deal as well. It isn’t just Renault Group.

  • avatar

    Does this mean that Renault is changing GM for Mercedes for its van partner?

  • avatar

    Carlos — if you know what is good for you — run !! run like the wind…

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