|The smart fourjoy introduced at Frankfurt is being developed on the basis of a Daimler/Renault-Nissan shared architecture. Click to enlarge.|
The chief executives of the Renault-Nissan Alliance and Daimler AG said during an annual briefing at the Frankfurt Motor Show that their companies’ partnership (earlier post) is advancing quickly, and the scope of the collaboration is increasingly global.
The French-Japanese-German partnership began in April 2010, with three “pillar projects” primarily focused on Europe. Since then, the portfolio has increased to ten significant projects, including major initiatives from North America to Japan. In addition, relevant business units are working together in best-practice sharing and other forms of cooperation.
While our initial collaboration focused strongly on European projects, we are now focusing on synergies in all key markets.—Renault-Nissan Chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn
We will continue to seek out new projects together that make sense for all partners and, most importantly, our customers.—Daimler CEO and Head of Mercedes Benz Cars Dieter Zetsche
Earlier this year, the two partners also signed a three-way agreement with Ford for the joint development of a common fuel cell system to speed up availability of zero-emission technology and significantly reduce investment costs. (Earlier post.)
The two CEOs cited the joint production of Mercedes-Benz four-cylinder gasoline engines in Decherd (Tennessee, USA) as a good example of how the partners profit from the cooperation. Just one and a half years after the groundbreaking in May 2012, the factory building for the joint production of Mercedes-Benz four-cylinder gasoline engines is now complete. Production machinery is now being installed and the start of production is planned for mid-2014.
The engines produced in Decherd will then be used in the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, which is produced at the Daimler plant in Tuscaloosa (Alabama, USA), and in new Infiniti products.
Joint development work is also proceeding on schedule for a new family of shared three- and four-cylinder gasoline engines with turbocharging and direct fuel injection. The engines will make use of the latest technology and will have significantly improved fuel consumption.
Another example of the successful cooperation on engine development is the new Infiniti Q50, which was presented in Geneva this spring and will be available as of the fall. It is the first Infiniti automobile to have a powertrain comprising a diesel engine and automatic transmission from the cooperation with Daimler.
The first vehicles resulting from the collaboration, including the Mercedes-Benz Citan van, are already on the road. In addition, Infiniti will offer a vehicle using components from Daimler’s compact car architecture starting 2015. The components will be used in a brand specific way. The Q30 concept car can be seen for the first time at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
|Nissan NV350 Urvan. Click to enlarge.|
The cooperation is continuing also in the field of commercial vehicles. It is planned that the unit of Daimler Trucks Asia, Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation (MFTBC), will be supplied with Nissan’s NV350 Urvan commercial vans to be sold under Mitsubishi Fuso in selected export markets.
This type of strategic supply has been successfully implemented since early 2013 also for light-duty trucks to expand their respective product portfolio into new segments: the FUSO Canter Guts light-duty truck (payload: 2.0 tons) is supplied to Nissan and the Nissan Atlas F24 light-duty truck (payload 1.5 tons) is supplied to Mitsubishi Fuso. This cross-supply volume initially amounts to about 1,300 units for the Japanese market.
The smart/Twingo project is also progressing as planned. Production will begin soon on the new two-seater smart at the smart plant in Hambach (France) and of the four-seater smart and the Renault Twingo successor model at the Renault plant in Novo Mesto (Slovenia). Market launch of the model versions is planned for the second half of 2014.
The new generations of the smart and the Renault Twingo are being developed on the basis of a shared architecture, but will remain independent products with an unmistakable brand appearance. A show car of the new smart four-seater (“smart fourjoy”) was presented at the Frankfurt Motor Show this Monday.