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by Matt Campbell

The head of the Renault-Nissan Alliance says the individual brand identities that fall under the overarching group umbrella will remain, and that it is important the brands have unique selling points to appeal to different buyers.

Renault-Nissan Alliance chairman and CEO, Carlos Ghosn, told media this week that while the company is looking to use the toolbox of goodies from all of its brands, that it is vital for Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi to stand on their own.

“Each brand is totally autonomous,” Ghosn said. “This is something that is very important to understand. Renault does its own strategy, its product strategy; Mitsubishi does its own product strategy; Nissan does its own product strategy. There is nothing harmonised when it comes to the white space.

“What is harmonised is making sure that [when] you develop technology and you develop platforms, you don’t waste resources: you try to standardise technologies in order to make sure that the brands are going to be making the best out of these technologies,” he said.

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Ghosn said that while it may seem like Nissan is following Mitsubishi’s lead in Australia by paring back its range to an almost-all-SUV affair following the removal of the Altima, Micra and Pulsar, the companies work independently from one another. So, it must just be what the market wants.

“When it comes to Mitsubishi deciding what cars come to Australia, or what kind of technology, what pricing: this is Mitsubishi, completely autonomous, independently of Nissan, and absolutely not co-ordinated, no discussion on this. It is absolutely independent of Renault,” he said.

“You know, all the brands are totally autonomous, and we want it to be this way: that’s what makes us different to the other large groups.”

Parts and platform sharing is something we’ve heard a lot about over recent years, particularly in the likes of the Volkswagen Group. And the Renault-Nissan Alliance is set to make this kind of sharing more commonplace in the future, too.

“We commonise as much as possible [in] purchasing technology development, advanced engineering, platforms, powertrains: these are things we commonise, but then we totally give the brands responsibility for going into the market, setting marketing, defining the brand identity – completely,” Ghosn said.

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And when you look at the broader picture it seems clear there are some synergies that Mitsubishi and Nissan could look at: co-developing utes, for example, not to mention sharing passenger cars (maybe with Renault’s platforms and drivetrains), and looking at what can be done with the larger SUVs in each segment. It has already begun, with Nissan and Renault sharing small SUVs in the Qashqai and Kadjar (not sold here), as well as the X-Trail and Koleos.

But Ghosn indicated that he won’t hold back the individual brands from pursuing their varied interests.

“We’re not one company – we’re different companies. We try to build synergies where it doesn’t matter to the consumer. You don’t care about where you gearbox is coming from, and who made your gearbox – people usually don’t care about the technology used in the products, or at least only 3-5 per cent of people care about that.

“But people care about functionality: they care about design, they care about leadership, service, they care about price, about total cost of ownership, fuel efficiency, aftersales, resale value: this is what makes something meaningful for the consumer, and on all these aspects the brands are totally free, by themselves,” he said.

“I don’t think there is any coordination from the brands as to ‘who presents what product here or there’,” he said. “This is completely free.”

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