Daimler-Renault partnership to now include Japan-built commercial vans

Article by Anita Panait, on September 18, 2013

Daimler AG and Renault SA are expanding their global cooperation to include commercial vans made in Japan as the carmakers seek new projects together. The carmakers disclosed at the Frankfurt motor show that the expanded cooperation entails Nissan Motor Corp. -- Renault's alliance partner -- will supply Daimler with the NV350 Urvan to be sold under its Mitsubishi Fuso brand in selected markets.

Daimler chief executive Dieter Zetsche remarked at a news conference that the carmakers will continue “to seek out new projects together that make sense” for both of them. Daimler and Renault have bit by bit added projects to their three-year-old cooperation, which initially covered only Daimler's Smart city cars and Mercedes-Benz delivery vans.

In 2012, Daimler and Renault reached an agreement to jointly develop a four-cylinder gasoline engine and to license Mercedes gearboxes for Nissan's Infiniti luxury brand to be built in Mexico.

Carlos Ghosn, CEO at both Renault and Nissan, remarked at the conference that there is “no limit to the cooperation, there's no taboo."  Ghosn said that the ramp up of a joint engine production in Decherd, Tennessee is on pace for a planned start of production in mid-2014. The engines built at the site will be fitted in the mid-sized Mercedes-Benz C- Class and new Infiniti cars.

Ghosn noted that although Mercedes and Infiniti are both luxury brands, they are not targeting the same customers. He stressed that cross-shopping between the Mercedes and Infiniti is limited. According to Zetsche, Daimler and Renault will also seek a possible cooperation in the large van segment although discussions have yet to commence.

The German carmaker said last week that a Daimler deal to rebadge the Mercedes Sprinter for Volkswagen AG will cease at the end of 2016 and Zetsche said that the decision to end production for VW was independent of any possible cooperation with Renault-Nissan. Daimler and Renault currently cooperate on the former’s smaller Citan delivery van, which was adapted from the latter’s Kangoo van.

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