GENEVA, March 3 (AFP) – Five years into their alliance Renault and Nissan are about to step up their cooperation, notably through the use of common production platforms.
The technique, widely used in the automobile industry, allows different model cars of the same size to be built sharing numerous components, creating economies of scale and therefore reducing costs.
When platforms are used by the two partners, “that’s when the effect of volumes begins to play a role with suppliers, and cost reductions kick in,” Nissan executive vice-president Patrick Pelata told AFP in an interview at the Geneva car show.
Renault is to use a shared platform for small-sized vehicles for its Modus minivan that is coming out in the second half of the year.
Developped by the two groups after their March 1999 alliance was forged, Nissan first used the platform in 2002 for its March and Cube Japanese models and Micra model in Europe.
Renault is also to use it for its Clio and Twingo models in 2005 or 2006.
“Nissan could never have carried out its commercial campaign in the small cars range without this platform shared with Renault,” Pelata said.
“When we are at full volume on both sides, we should be well past one million, and even 1.5 milllion cars each, whereas at Nissan, the Micra platform represented 300,000 to 350,000 vehicles in 1999. That’s a multiplication of volumes by five by 2006-2007, that’s considerable,” he added.
The shared platform for mid-sized cars was first used by Renault for its new Megane-Scenic line at the end of 2002.
“Nissan is going to use it this year for a vehicle that will be launched in Japan,” Pelata said.
However, the higher up a model is in the market, the lower the possibility of using common parts because of regulations and the specific tastes of various markets.
“For the B platform (for small cars), geographic differences are limited because the cars are only marketed in Japan and Europe and not in the United States,” said Renault chairman Louis Schweitzer.
As for the C platform for midsized cars, “the wide use of diesel engines in Europe makes it necessary to have a structure for the vibrations, whereas in Japan and the United States, there’s no diesel and you don’t have this constraint,” Pelata said
The D platform for bigger, upmarket cars was complicated by the fact that Renault makes all of its large-sized cars in Europe while Nissan sells its big cars in Japan and the United States.
But Schweitzer insisted that this platform would be made in 2007 or 2008 for the successors to Renault’s Laguna and Nissan’s Primera.
He said the replacement of Renault’s new Vel Satis upmarket model would be a chance for cooperation with Nissan.
The two companies aim to have 10 shared platforms by 2010 for cars and utility vehicles and are to launch two two-liter engines in 2005, one diesel and the other gasoline.
Subject: France news