Daimler Weighs Small-Car Production With Renault-Nissan

Daimler AG and the Renault-Nissan alliance are considering expanding their cooperation to team up on manufacturing future small-car models.

“We have started a feasibility study investigating benefits from development and production of joint components for the next generation of compact cars,” Thomas Froehlich, a Daimler spokesman in Stuttgart, Germany, said by e-mail today. The review is ongoing and no decisions have been finalized.

Daimler has gradually added projects to a three-year-old cooperation with Renault SA and its partner Nissan Motor Co. that was originally focused on Daimler’s Smart city cars and delivery vans. Last year, the companies agreed to jointly develop a four-cylinder gasoline engine and to license Mercedes-Benz transmissions to Nissan’s Infiniti brand.

Mercedes, the third-largest maker of luxury vehicles, has been expanding its lineup of entry-level vehicles to lure younger customers to the brand. Mercedes, which aims to overtake Bayerische Motoren Werke AG in sales by the end of the decade, introduced the CLA compact four-door coupe this year.

A future version of the CLA might be built at Nissan’s plant in Aguascalientes, Mexico, Automotive News reported July 16. A decision would be made in early 2014, the magazine said citing Daimler Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche.

Joint production of Daimler and Nissan vehicles could start as early as next fall in the Mexican facility, which is under construction, the Nikkei newspaper reported yesterday.

No decision on production in Mexico has been taken, Rachel Konrad, a Renault spokeswoman, said by e-mail. She declined to comment on “speculative media reports.”

Zetsche and Carlos Ghosn, the CEO of both Nissan and Renault, said in 2011 that Nissan might use Daimler’s compact-car technology to make a vehicle for the Infiniti luxury brand. This vehicle is scheduled for introduction next year, the companies said at the time.

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