TOKYO - When the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance announced earlier this year that it would share more vehicle parts, technologies and models in a bid to cut costs amid the Covid-19 turmoil, there were concerns that the move would result in badge-engineered cars.
At the time Nissan Chief Executive Makoto Uchida said that the synergy potential was “huge” and that the number of vehicles sharing the same platform would double by 2024, saving around 2 billion euros (R30.4bn) a year.
However, Mitsubishi’s design head Seiji Watanabe has assured customers that each of the three brands would retain their distinct identities. He told Australian publication Car Expert that they were “shaking hands to keep each strong brand identity”.
“This is a starting point. Then, how much we can share several components in the chassis, the construction, the body, the inside… we can share to make a very efficient approach, efficient development,” Watanabe said.
“The point is, the basic concept is to keep each brand identity… I think the keeping of character or identity is most, most important to keep, and enhance, the brand building.”
According to Car Expert, the design head suggested that some of the less noticeable touch points and trim bits could be shared between cars but more significant parts like the steering wheel need to be different in order to retain the car’s brand identity, and the same goes for the exterior styling.
As reported earlier this year, the new alliance plan will see Nissan focussing on China, North America and Japan; Renault on Europe, Russia and South America and North Africa, and Mitsubishi on Southeast Asia and Oceania, for the benefit of the entire alliance.
The shared technology will also include electric cars and autonomous driving, platforms and car bodies, the executives said. Nissan is a leader in electric cars with its Leaf, but such technology will be available to the other alliance members, the company said.
Renault owns 43 percent of Nissan, while Nissan owns 15 percent of Renault.
Sources: AP, Car Expert