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Coming together in a time of crisis is what true partners do. And it seems the current global situation has forced Renault and Nissan to put aside their differences and come up with a new plan for its shaky Alliance; which also includes Mitsubishi.
As previously reported, Nissan is due to announce a new business plan next week that will see it scale back its involvement in Europe to focus on the USA and Asian markets. The Japanese brand has been struggling in recent years as sales decline and its relationship with its French partner has been strained since the arrest of former Alliance chief, Carlos Ghosn.
Nissan has pursued Ghosn for a variety of financial misconduct allegations, while Renault initially stood by the executive credited with turning the French brand’s fortunes around. Ghosn accused Nissan of pursuing his prosecution as a means of breaking up the Alliance between the French and Japanese brands, claiming Nissan executives wanted to separate entirely from Renault.
However, a new report from Reuters says the three companies are preparing to announce a new plan later next week that will see the Alliance work closer together than ever before. Under the reported proposal Nissan would be responsible for leading the development of SUVs, while Renault would take charge of small cars and light commercial vehicles.
As a result Nissan’s UK Sunderland plant could start building the Renault Captur and Kadjar alongside their Nissan twins, the Qashqai and Juke, saving both companies millions at a time of cost-cutting. At the same time Nissan would close its Spanish factory that makes the Navara ute for the European market; Australian Navaras are built in Thailand.
According to the source only the Qashqai, Juke, X-Trail and electric Ariya SUVs would remain the only Nissan-built models in European markets, with the rest of the range filled out by rebadged versions of Renault city cars and commercial vans.
The Reuters report comes at the same time French media claims Renault is looking to close as many as four of its factories as it looks to save more than €2 billion ($3.3b) amid the coronavirus pandemic-induced sales decline. The same report claims the Megane hatch and Koleos, along with the European-only Escape, Scenic and Talisman, could all be axed at the end of their current lifespan.
The revived Alpine brand also looks set to be axed permanently, with sales of the A110 sports cars in sharp decline around the world; only a single example has been sold in Australia in the first four months of 2020. The sports car brand was only revived in 2018 but requires its own plant in Dieppe, which Renault is looking to close in the current climate.
It’s not clear what direct impact these changes would have on both Renault and Nissan in Australia. While the report states Renault would take the leadership position in commercial vehicles, given it has limited experience of utes compared to both Nissan and Mitsubishi it would seem more likely for the Japanese duo to continue to spearhead the next-gen Navara and Triton.
The need to save money also raises question marks about the future of Nissan’s sports cars - the GT-R and 370Z. Both are reportedly likely to be scrapped from European markets, but it’s unclear if the need to save money will result in their long-overdue replacements being delayed or even scrapped entirely. Prior to the pandemic it was understood Nissan was close to launch the all-new Zed, rumoured to be called 400Z, and packing a turbocharged V6 engine and new platform shared with the Infiniti Q60 Coupe.