It was in 1999 that Renault purchased a 36.8 percent stake in the then failing and nearly bankrupt Nissan motor company. What followed was perhaps one of the most fundamental shifts in a Japanese company to date.
The man that spearheaded the changes and merger, Carlos Ghosn, was initially viewed by many Japanese as the destroyer of Nissan, but his strategy and strict restructurings of the Japanese company quickly turned the brand to profitability and now, 15 years later, the Renault-Nissan alliance is a powerhouse in the automotive sector.
Back in 1999 the two companies totaled just 4.8 millions sales globally, a figure that has increased to a substantial 8.3 million (2013).
“Together, Renault and Nissan have significantly expanded their global footprint and generated economies of scale vastly larger than either company could accomplish on its own. Renault and Nissan have charted a unique course for 15 years, maximizing synergies while nurturing each company’s distinct brands and corporate culture.” said Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn.
It took five years, but the first vehicle to benefit from the Renault-Nissan alliance was the Renault Modus, which was built on a joint B platform from 2004.
Two years later the alliance announced its first joint engine, a 2.0-litre dCi diesel which was used in both Renault and Nissan vehicles.
In 2010 and 2011, the companies setup their first manufacturing plant in India and Brazil respectively.
The alliance took on yet another partner in Daimler, with the Mercedes-Benz Citan van being produced in the Renault plant in Maubeuge (France) from 2012. Strategic relationships with Daimler (Mercedes-Benz), Dongfeng Motor, Ashok Leyland and Mitsubishi have also followed.
For the launch of the respective brands' Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe plug-in cars the alliance invested billions into electric vehicle development, a gamble that is still to pay off with only 134,000 EVs sold to date.
Today Renault owns 43.4 percent of Nissan and the two companies consist of multiple brands, including: Renault, Nissan, Renault Samsung, Infiniti, Venucia, Dacia, Datsun and Lada (the French-Japanese alliance owns a 74.5 percent stake in AVTOVAZ, the Lada’s parent brand).
Last year the alliance made more than 30 per cent of its global sales from the fast-growing BRIC (Brazil, Russian, India and China) nations, where it managed just one per cent of sales in 1999.
Do you think the Renault-Nissan alliance has worked for the two companies?