Spies Hecker

Renault and Nissan denied media reports of a potential break-up that sent their shares skidding to multiyear lows. The automakers said their alliance, which was shaken even further by the dramatic escape of former chairman Carlos Ghosn from trial in Japan, was in no danger of being dissolved. “The alliance is the source of Nissan’s competitiveness,” Nissan said in a statement pushing back against reports that its executives have looked at the possibility of breaking with the global carmaking partnership. “Through the alliance, to achieve sustainable and profitable growth, Nissan will look to continue delivering win-win results for all member companies,” the statement said.

Renault Chairman Jean-Philippe Senard told Belgian newspaper L’Echo that the alliance is “solid, robust, everything but dead.” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire also weighed in, saying reports some executives wanted to break up the alliance were “malicious.”

Alliance pros and cons

Nissan has been exploring the pros and cons of sustaining the alliance, particularly when it comes to engineering and technology sharing, said a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified discussing confidential matters. Those studies predate Ghosn’s escape from Japan and were preliminary, so no decision has been made, the person told Bloomberg.

The companies are trying to forge solutions to problems with their long-standing partnership, and launch new joint industrial projects, people familiar with the situation said. So far, those efforts have not produced visible results.

Nissan has asked for an analysis of the workloads and productivity of Renault and Nissan staffs, one person familiar with the situation said. Divisions within Nissan’s senior management are complicating efforts to fix the alliance and launch new projects, sources said.

Renault is in the process of choosing a new CEO after ousting Thierry Bollore in October and late last year Nissan picked Makoto Uchida, known for having close ties with Renault, as CEO.

Some developments set in motion during the Ghosn era are due to come to fruition in 2020 – Nissan’s crossover electric car, based on its Ariya concept model, will be the first to launch on a new joint electric platform, and in 2021 a Renault equivalent should also take shape.

Senard, who joined Renault from tyre maker Michelin as chairman in early 2019 after Ghosn’s arrest, has vowed to get the alliance working by this year, although the firms have yet to present new common initiatives. “The problem is today, there’s nothing concrete.”