Powertrain deals expand Renault-Nissan-Daimler pact

PARIS Fri Sep 28, 2012 6:46am EDT

1 of 2. Daimler AG's Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche gives a speaks next to the new Mercedes-Benz A Class model on media day at the Paris Mondial de l'Automobile September 27, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Jacky Naegelen

PARIS (Reuters) - Renault (RENA.PA) and affiliate Nissan (7201.T) unveiled plans to share gearboxes with Mercedes and develop compact engines with its parent Daimler (DAIGn.DE), expanding their partnership with the German luxury automaker.

Daimler will develop a new range of fuel-efficient, 1.3-litre petrol engines with Renault and license its automatic transmissions to Nissan and its upscale Infiniti brand, under agreements announced on Friday at the Paris auto show.

The joint programs will save production and development costs for all three companies, with output expected to run to more than 3 million of the four-cylinder engines, Renault-Nissan alliance chief Carlos Ghosn and Daimler counterpart Dieter Zetsche told reporters.

"This cooperation is about scale and sharing, and it's working very well," Ghosn told a news conference at the show.

The new automatic transmissions will be manufactured in Mexico by Jatco for Renault-Nissan, Ghosn said.

Under their 2010 partnership agreement, Renault-Nissan and Daimler have already joined forces to build small cars such as the Renault Twingo, Mercedes A-Class and Smart, as well as engines - with production at Nissan's Tennessee factory announced earlier this year.

Mercedes is also sharing its front-wheel-drive car platform for a new Infiniti model due to start production in 2015.

This year sees the first jointly developed vehicles taking to the road, including the A-Class with Renault engines and Mercedes Citan van - built at the French automaker's plant in Maubeuge alongside its own Kangoo model.

The two chief executives declined to go into detail on cost savings achieved by their partnership so far or those still to come.

"It's definitely fair to say on either side the benefits are a billion number, not a million number," Zetsche said.

Renault holds a 43.4 percent stake in alliance partner Nissan, which in turn owns 15 percent of the French automaker, with Ghosn heading both companies.

Renault-Nissan and Daimler also hold small stakes in each other's capital, purchased in 2010 to cement the three-way partnership.

(Additional reporting by Gilles Guillaume; Editing by James Regan)

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