The preceding articles set out the background to and rationale behind the alliance between Daimler and Renault-Nissan. In this article, we look at each of the joint projects in turn, examining what they encompass in terms of vehicles, powertrains, technologies, factories, geography, timescales and the benefits of each programme to the partners.
The joint engine programme
This focuses on the development of a new family of three- and four-cylinder turbocharged direct injection engines with a maximum size of 1.8-litres. They are scheduled to go into production at plants belonging to all three members of the alliance towards the end of 2016 and are designed to achieve market leading positions in terms of fuel efficiency and emissions. When the programme was announced, the companies said that these co-developed engines would have “a high level of standardisation of non-brand relevant parts" and would be designed so that they retain “the clear distinctiveness of the individual brand identities”. The engines will be used on the high-end version of the ForFour Smart, Twingo and Clio, plus more widely in the next Renault Megane, Scenic and future Nissan C-segment vehicles, as well as the Mercedes-Benz A- and B-class series.
Joint programme with Ford
Finally, there is the three-way partnership between Daimler, Renault-Nissan and Ford in fuel cell development which was announced in January 2013. This project – on which nothing formal has been heard since its announcement more than two years ago – aims to develop a fuel cell system which will be common to all three parties, resulting in significant cost savings. The intention behind this programme is to have affordable, mass-market fuel cell electric vehicles on the road by 2017. Other than indicating that this programme will be undertaken “by three companies at several locations around the world”, none of the parties have said much on this subject since the January 2013 announcement.
From a near standing start in 2010, the Daimler-Renault-Nissan alliance has quickly grown to encompass projects across the globe. There has been significant technology transfer from Mercedes to Infiniti, but Mercedes has gained through licence fee receipts, higher volumes for its MFA platform, and access to small, fuel efficient engines for its growing small and compact car range. Cross-badging arrangements in Japan and in Europe have enabled gaps in each side’s commercial vehicle line-ups to be filled (there are other gaps which remain and may yet be filled with similar arrangements in due course). There is a new vehicle plant being built in Mexico and the supply of engines between the parties is growing all the time.
To date, there have been few problems – such as with the Citan’s poor NCAP result, and the dropping of the Renault version of the Smart ForTwo. However such problems have been far outweighed by the alliance’s numerous successes. One thing seems likely – more joint programmes will be announced. It is just a matter of time.