By on August 17, 2020


Romance was not in the air when Japanese officials attempted to spark a merger between troubled automaker Nissan and its far healthier rival, Honda, a report in the Financial Times claims.

According to three sources, the effort to bring both automakers to the table — a high-level decision apparently originating in the Japanese Prime Minister’s office — went nowhere. Can anyone imagine a reason why Honda would turn up its nose at such an idea?

The attempt to bring both sides to the table for merger talks reportedly occurred at the end of last year, as Nissan floundered amid financial distress born of falling global sales and brash past decisions. The pandemic that came along early this year didn’t help things and effectively buried the idea. The thinking in Shinzo Abe’s office was that the bad blood between Nissan and alliance partner Renault could lead to a split — a danger that risked leaving “the Japanese company exposed.”

Who better to partner with than unencumbered auto giant Honda? Toyota, it seemed, had too many smaller tie-ups on the go already.

Indeed, FT claims the close relationship between Nissan and Renault and the capital structure they both share was a factor in the idea not getting off the ground. Renault owns a 43.4-percent stake in Nissan, with Nissan holding a 15-percent stake in the former company. As well, the French government holds a 15-percent stake in Renault.

It’s reported that the effort to merge didn’t even make it to the boards of either automaker, with Honda rejecting the idea outright. Nissan preferred to move forward with its own attempts to right the ship and repair the alliance.

In May, the automaker released a four-year plan aimed at solidifying Nissan’s fiscal foundation. The plan would see the automaker shrink in global reach and output; alliance partners Renault and Mitsubishi would also tame their ambitions, focusing instead on the markets and products that show the most promise.

As for the kiboshed merger talks, parts and platform compatibility between Honda and Nissan products would have proven another sticking point.

One former Nissan executive told FT, “A Nissan-Honda merger would only make sense to people who do not understand the car industry.”

[Image: Nissan]

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14 Comments on “Report: Nissan-Honda Tie-up Didn’t Makes It to the First Date...”

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    There’s another reason this particular merger wouldn’t work: Nissan, in addition to being a troubled company, is also a highly toxic company these days. It’s leadership instinctively looks inward while Honda has a long history of looking upward and outward. Nissan’s resistance to change and embracement of the world led to a palace coup that brought down Carlos Ghosn. Honda isn’t perfect but is an entirely different world compared to Nissan, which it doesn’t need to hamper its own progress.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Why would Honda even entertain the thought of merging with Nissan? Nissan is toxic especially to Honda, Toyota, Mazda, and Subaru.

  • avatar

    What does Nissan offer that Honda could possibly want or even need?

    Cue the crickets.

  • avatar

    I like how the government’s suggested fix for an ailing company is to pull a healthy company down into the muck with it.

  • avatar

    I’ve said it before but there is a 0% chance that Japan will allow Nissan to fail or go through bankruptcy. If the situation becomes more dire then they’ll press the merger idea harder with Honda or Toyota.

    • 0 avatar

      The Japanese (or the Germans for that matter) will never allow one of their major auto producers to go under. Here in the ‘States, we cheer on the idea of major manufacturer going down…

      Give it a year or two, Nissan and/or Mitsubishi will be owned by Toyota. Toyota seems to be the Japanese government’s go to for this kind of thing.

      • 0 avatar

        Well from the Honda history we all know that I’m the past most Japanese car companies wanted to kill Honda when Honda starting to sell small cars. Nissan was bigger, but today Honda look like more profitable and also diversified their business not just car and motorcycle.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Grammar Nazi reporting in. Headline should be Report: “Nissan-Honda Tie-up Didn’t Make It to the First Date”

  • avatar

    Do you really think Toyota-Nissan merger will pass the antitrust challenges?

    • 0 avatar

      I’m not familiar with how antitrust laws work in Japan, but given that this little blind date was set by their prime minister, I’d have to think it wouldn’t have been an issue legally.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    The way things are going with Nissan, the only suitors could well be Gaijin companies.

    Hyundai would symbolize how far ahead a former Japanese imperial colony has leaped forward.

    • 0 avatar

      Would make some sense, as the Japanese market remains large and Hyundai has no presence of any kind in it, but it is a shrinking market, and other than that, I don’t know what Nissan has to offer Hyundai. Same thing with Mitsubishi.

  • avatar

    My first thought is that a Chinese company would be the ideal candidate to link up with Nissan, but I don’t think the Japanese government would ever let that happen.

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