Mercedes-Benz has revealed that the alliance it has with Renault-Nissan to produce a range of models is strong, but company chief Dr Dieter Zetsche confirmed there are joint projects that may be dropped if they don’t make sense – including a second-generation range of small cars.
Speaking with media at the 2017 Detroit motor show, Zetsche said the collaboration with Renault-Nissan for its next-generation small car range – specifically the platform sharing program between the Mercedes small car line-up and Infiniti Q30/QX30 pairing – isn't going to happen.
Reports earlier this year stated Mercedes and Infiniti couldn’t agree to terms for the next-generation MFA platform, MFA2, which will underpin eight models: A-Class hatch and sedan, B-Class MPV, CLA four-door 'coupe' and wagon, GLA SUV and the new GLB SUV (short and long-wheelbase models expected).
Zetsche said that if things don’t make sense, you don’t do them.
“From the get-go, this co-operation was based on the rationale of added value to both parties involved. It’s not a co-operation for its own to sake: it’s to create value for both partners,” Zetsche said. “This lead us, in the meanwhile, to 13 or 14 projects running, the majority being in the marketplace already.
Pictured above: Different but the same - the Infiniti Q30 (top) and Mercedes-Benz A-Class (bottom)
“According to this logic, in the development phase we have to challenge and question these projects, if they’re still promising to provide this added value to our partners, and we have doubts we have to discuss it, and see if we can make them,” he said.
“That is where we are right now in the discussion for the next-generation front-wheel-drive compacts,” he said. “The kind answer is staying out, but whatever will be, it will not have any significant impact on our collaboration, which both of us continue to see as a role-model of collaboration of independent companies in our industry.”
As for what that means for MFA2 products from Benz – under its own steam – Zetsche said the plans to expand the small car range from the current five models to eight is going to happen with or without an ally.
Pictured above: Twins under the skin – the Mercedes-Benz GLA (top) and its sibling model, the Infiniti QX30 (bottom)
“It will have no impact on our side – we have a clear, defined portfolio on our side, we’re talking about eight members of this future generation, future family. This is defined, and independent of the extent we collaborate with our partner,” Zetsche said.
That this one collaboration isn’t going to come through doesn’t mean the two companies won’t work together on other projects in the future. Indeed, Mercedes-Benz is working hard with Nissan to get its new X-Class ute to market in 2018. The X-Class is based on theNissan Navara ute.
These sorts of alliances aren’t new. Indeed, the next-generation small car sharing plan was designed to reduce costs and complexities as the pair of companies gear up to open their new manufacturing facility in Mexico.
That assembly line will build Infiniti and Mercedes models for the US market, starting later this year.