Nissan Motor Corporation innovates by forming beneficial alliances rather than pursuing mergers or acquisitions.
Sun Valley Nissan
Carlos Ghosn, chairman and CEO of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, has no aversion to sharing information, resources and in some cases even products with other car manufacturers. It’s alleged that he recently locked down business with Mercedes-Benz and BMW on two separate projects that should be a benefit to consumers as well as the Nissan brand.
Compare Ghosn (pronounced “goan”) with rival chairman and CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), Sergio Marchionne, who happens to be a Canadian, and you’ll see a portrait in contrasts. For the last two years Marchionne has been approaching every automaker he can and singing the virtues of a merger to cut research and development costs.
Marchionne argues correctly that there is too much duplication of automotive R&D, resulting in unnecessary costs for each manufacturer. While streamlining costs in this area might be a compelling proposition, so far no one has taken him up on his overtures. It may be that leaders like Ghosn are seeing similar advantages without forcing companies to join cultures and disrupt the strengths they’ve already built.
Brands and talent account for a large part of each manufacturer’s success, and what might be saved in R&D may very well be lost in watering down each brand’s appeal and cutting duplicate positions, which naturally causes stress for employees and a loss of productivity for both companies.
With BMW, Nissan is teaming up to build charging station infrastructure that would benefit the award-winning Nissan Leaf as well as purchasers of BMW’s electric car, the i3. It’s a win-win situation for both manufacturers, since they don’t directly compete with each other. Yet, it gives electric car shoppers and owners a better awareness of the viability and quality of the cutting-edge electric products being built and retailed right now.
The arrangement with Mercedes-Benz at this point is a little more hush-hush. There are industry rumours that Nissan has teamed up with the legendary German manufacturer to help Mercedes get into the luxury truck market.
As the story goes, Mercedes would use the latest Nissan Navarro platform — the truck widely believed to become the 2017 Frontier in the North American market — and reconfigure it for an upscale crowd. Where the German manufacturer takes it from there is anyone’s guess. Renault, Nissan’s longstanding alliance partner, supplies the gutsy diesel for the Navarro in the rest of the world, and therefore it shouldn’t have any trouble meeting European emission standards.
Are Europeans finally ready to embrace truck culture the way we do in North America? Maybe with an upscale brand and a workhorse Nissan truck underneath it all, we’ll soon find out.
Read more: Mercedes-Benz’s New Nissan-based Truck
Clearly Ghosn and other executives at these very powerful and prestigious automakers see advantages to this type of arrangement, as they all seek to mitigate risk in trying new things in their respective markets. We can’t wait to learn more about how these and other alliances will play out for Nissan vehicles in the future.
Editor’s note: the opinions expressed in this article are soley those of Sun Valley Nissan and should not to be miscontrued as those of the manufacturers or automotive executives mentioned.