Daimler Pledges More Renault-Nissan Cooperation Projects

Daimler AG, the third-biggest maker of luxury autos, and the French-Japanese alliance of Renault SA and Nissan Motor Co. pledged to widen cooperation after cost savings and revenue from joint work beat targets.

Benefits from cooperating have amounted to a “much, much bigger number” than the combined 4 billion euros ($5.05 billion) planned when the manufacturers set up their shared projects in 2010, Carlos Ghosn, CEO of both Renault and Nissan, said at a Paris Motor Show press conference today.

Daimler and Renault-Nissan joined forces to develop models as car sales in Europe were in the midst of a six-year slide that ended in a two-decade low in 2013. In addition to new versions of the German company’s Smart and Renault’s Twingo city cars, projects include powertrains for Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz main luxury brand and a 1 billion-euro compact-car factory being built in Mexico by that division and Nissan’s Infiniti marque.

The partnership is “kind of a work in progress,” and there are “no sacred cows” in terms of additional tie-ups Ghosn said. Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said at the press conference that he could envision working with the other manufacturers on autonomous driving.

Mutual Shareholdings

The three-way partnership includes limited mutual shareholdings. Renault, based in the Paris suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt, and Yokohama-based Nissan each hold 1.54 percent of Daimler’s stock, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The German company owns 3.1 percent of each of the other two carmakers, according to the data.

The new Twingo began deliveries in September while the next-generation two-seat Smart and a four-seat version go on sale in November. All three vehicles, which share about 75 percent of their parts, are on display at the Paris show. The project is an attempt by Stuttgart-based Daimler to hold down costs while reviving the Smart’s prospects 16 years since the city car’s debut.

Daimler said earlier today that its Mitsubishi Fuso truck division and Nissan signed a final agreement for a joint commercial van that the manufacturers announced plans for in September 2013.

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