Daimler to Add Renault-Nissan Fuso Vans to Global Cooperation

Daimler AG and Renault SA are expanding their global cooperation to include commercial vans made in Japan as the manufacturers continue to identify new projects together.

Renault’s alliance partner Nissan Motor Corp. will supply Daimler with the NV350 Urvan to be sold under its Mitsubishi Fuso brand in selected export markets, the companies said today at the International Auto Show in Frankfurt.

“We will continue to seek out new projects together that make sense for all partners,” Daimler Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche said at a news conference.

The manufacturers have gradually added projects to their three-year-old cooperation, which was originally focused on Stuttgart, Germany-based Daimler’s Smart city cars and Mercedes-Benz delivery vans. Last year, the companies agreed to jointly develop a four-cylinder gasoline engine and to license Mercedes transmissions for Nissan’s Infiniti luxury brand to be made in Mexico.

“There’s no limit to the cooperation, there’s no taboo,” Carlos Ghosn, chief executive officer at both Renault and Nissan, said at the event.

Tennessee Production

The ramp up of a joint engine production in Decherd, Tennessee is on track for production start in mid-2014, Ghosn said. The engines will be used in the mid-sized Mercedes-Benz C-Class and new Nissan Infiniti cars.

Mercedes and Infiniti are not competing for the same customers, said Ghosn. “Cross-shopping between the two brands is limited.”

The two partners will also look into a possible cooperation in the large van segment even as talks haven’t started yet, Zetsche said. A Daimler contract to rebadge the Mercedes Sprinter for Volkswagen AG will cease at the end of 2016, Daimler said last week. The decision to end production for Volkswagen was independent of any possible cooperation with Renault-Nissan, Zetsche said.

Daimler and Renault, which is based in the Paris suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt, cooperate on Daimler’s smaller Citan delivery van, which the German company adapted from Renault’s Kangoo.

The manufacturers are also considering teaming up on future compact car models. The review continues and no decision on a possible joint production in Mexico has been made, Ghosn said.

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