Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler AG and the Renault-Nissan alliance are poised to put pen to paper on a 50-50 joint-venture deal that will see Mercedes-based small cars wearing both Benz and Infiniti badges roll off Nissan’s Aguascalientes production line in Mexico.
The news, broken by Reuters, comes as the two global giants have announced a news conference, to be co-chaired by Daimler chief executive Dieter Zetsche and Renault-Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn (pictured below at a previous announcement) this Saturday (AEST), at which they are expected to unveil the plans.
The manufacturing deal will be the “largest project in the global collaboration of Daimler and the Renault-Nissan Alliance”, Daimler has said.
In return, Mercedes-Benz will be able to cut its own costs by not only licensing the MFA to Renault-Nissan, but by having its entry front-drive models built at the low-cost facility in Mexico, thereby fattening up narrow margins on its entry models.
Geographic proximity will also give Mercedes-Benz greater opportunities in the US. Daimler has not said which models it plans to build in Mexico, though this will potentially become clear tomorrow.
It is unclear what ramifications this could have for Australia, though Mercedes-Benz Australia-Pacific public relations manager Jerry Stamoulis told CarAdvice that cars could be sourced from anywhere “so long as it meets the Daimler requirements”.
Mercedes-Benz builds the C-Class in South Africa, among other locations, for instance, and sources small cars from Hungary.
Meanwhile a Nissan source said the company’s Australian arm was unaware of any plan to take cars from Mexico, but said it would have no problem with such a plan, provided its lead-times and ordering system could accommodate the big geographical distance.
This week’s news signals an expansion of an already significant alliance between the Franco-Japanese and German pair, which have collaborated on the next-generation Smart car and Renault Twingo and — with Ford — development of mass-market hydrogen-powered cars due around 2018. The broad collaboration was announced in 2010 and backed up by single-digit reciprocal share-holdings.
This week also saw the commencement of assembly at the $319 million Infiniti Decherd Powertrain Plant, a collaboration between the Renault-Nissan Alliance and Daimler AG.
The first engine to be assembled at the all-new facility is the 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol four-cylinder developed by Daimler, to be used in European versions of the Infiniti Q50 — Australia’s version due in September will come from Japan — and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class assembled in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.