The Kids Are Fighting Again: Renault-Nissan Swaps Out Powertrain Chief to Stamp Out a Family Squabble
Nissan and Renault consummated their marriage in 1999, but some family members still aren’t happy living under the same roof.
In an effort to put a lid on infighting, Renault-Nissan has asked its head of powertrain engineering to take a walk, replacing him with a company veteran who — the company hopes — can bring both sides together.
The alliance needs a hug-filled happy ending in a hurry, as regulators are gunning for the automaker’s not-so-clean engines.
As reported by Reuters, the automaker named Philippe Brunet as its top executive in charge of engines and transmissions today, replacing Alain Raposo in that role. Raposo, who failed to bring about a truce between both powertrain camps, shuffles off to an advisory role on January 1.
For the most part, both companies saw mutual benefits from the alliance. Shared platforms, new markets and prosperity followed the marriage, but the nuptials couldn’t stamp out the rivalry between the powertrain divisions of both companies. Reportedly, each side wants their technology to become the standard throughout the alliance, and it’s driving executives nuts.
“It’s a permanent punch-up — after 17 years we are still unable to think like a single company,” an unnamed Renault-Nissan executive told Reuters yesterday. “In powertrain it’s always been hell.”
Already, both brands share 85 percent of the alliance’s engines. Still, both sides are dissatisfied, and neither are Europe’s environmental watchdogs. Independent testing performed in the wake of Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal fingered Renault-Nissan’s engines for their smog-causing nitrogen oxide emissions. Some European Union prosecutors aren’t even sure the company’s engines are entirely legal.
With stringent European emissions standards on the way, it’s more important than ever for both powertrain divisions to work together and develop cleaner powerplants.
“We’re behind on several projects — some engine development schedules are all over the place,” another manager told Reuters. “The tighter standards are causing real difficulties, so we’re hiring and doing everything we can, but it’s not enough.”
It looks like the automaker’s solution was to hire a new, stricter nanny. Brunet, who joined Renault’s Formula One unit in 1989 before moving on to its engineering division in 2000, needs to be that guy.
[Image: © 2015 Mark Stevenson/The Truth About Cars]
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