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Renault, Nissan, Daimler to form alliance

Published:Wednesday | April 7, 2010 | 12:00 AM
2010 model E350 Mercedes-Benz automobiles sit in front of a Little Rock, Arkansas, dealership on November 3, 2009. Benz maker Daimler AG, Nissan and Renault will announce a new partnership on April 7. - Ap

Renault SA and Nissan Motor Company will unveil a wide-ranging three-way tie-up with German automaker Daimler AG today, Wednesday, aimed at bolstering their offerings in small, energy-efficient vehicles amid an industry slump that has ravaged the companies' earnings.

The parts-sharing and research alliance with German automaker Daimler AG will be announced at a joint news conference in Brussels, two officials close to Renault told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

The partnership will also see the companies exchange small stakes of around three per cent, the officials said.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal has not yet been publicly announced.

Renault's board met Tuesday in Paris to sign off on the partnership, French Industry Minister Christian Estrosi said at a news conference, according to his office.

The French state owns 15 per cent of Renault.

Boost volumes

The carmakers aim to share engines and small-car platforms for Daimler's Smart car and Renault's Twingo, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday. They also would collaborate on the research and development of hybrids, battery powered vehicles and other fuel-efficient technologies, the newspaper said, citing an unnamed source.

Renault revealed late last year that it was talking to Daimler and other potential partners on ways to cut costs or boost volumes as it struggles to get its crisis-ravaged finances in better shape.

Renault is no stranger to link-ups with others - it already shares development costs with Japanese partner Nissan Motor Company, in which it owns a 44 per cent stake.

Renault says its priority is to find savings through its alliance with Nissan and to help struggling Russian car maker AvtoVAZ, in which Renault has a 25 per cent stake.

Aim to regain stability

News of the partnership with Daimler comes as the industry struggles to emerge from a sharp downturn due to the global recession, which has seen spending on big-ticket items fall dramatically.

Last year, Renault made its first annual loss since it was privatised 13 years ago. It predicts another tough year in 2010.

Daimler lost €2.6 billion last year after taking charges including €294 million to settle Daimler's exit from its failed alliance with Chrysler LLC

Renault and Daimler declined to comment on the partnership Tuesday.

- AP