(Corrects spelling of name in penultimate paragraph to Shohei)
By Laurence Frost and Yoko Kubota
PARIS/TOKYO, March 17 Renault and
alliance partner Nissan unveiled plans on Monday to
integrate key operations and pursue economies of scale to keep
up with big rivals like Volkswagen.
The creation of a new alliance management team was among the
steps announced by Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn after 15
years of softly-softly cooperaton between the French and
Squeezed by the rising costs of emissions regulation at home
and tougher competition in emerging markets, where demand is
slowing, western carmakers have looked to mergers, alliances and
ad-hoc production deals to share costs and boost profitability.
Renault and 43.4 percent-owned affiliate Nissan are rolling
out new models on a jointly developed mass-market vehicle
architecture and in January raised their savings goal to at
least 4.3 billion euros ($6 billion) by 2016. [ID: nL5N0L446L]
Confirming moves that were flagged at the time, Ghosn named
new executive vice presidents on Monday to run converged
manufacturing, research and development, purchasing and human
resource functions across the alliance, starting on April 1.
The Renault-Nissan CEO pledged an "immediate increase in
efficiency", adding in an alliance statement that the savings
would help to "deliver higher-value vehicles to customers and
stay at the leading edge of innovation".
Renault and Nissan, which in turn owns 15 percent of
Renault, lag behind Volkswagen, Hyundai-Kia and
Toyota on platform scale - the number of vehicles
assembled from a common architecture.
In the face of bolder rival tie-ups such as the Fiat
Chrysler merger, Ghosn has argued that cultural
sensitivities prevented faster Renault-Nissan integration.
As a result, analysts and insiders say, the alliance has
missed significant savings opportunities over the years as
Nissan and Renault went their separate ways on programmes such
as electric cars and light commercial vehicles.
Under the plans announced on Monday Japanese executives from
Nissan take the core new engineeering and manufacturing
Tsuyoshi Yamaguchi, current head of platforms and parts,
will hold overall responsibility for research and development in
engines and vehicles, including future electric cars.
Industrial strategy, production and supply chain management
will be headed by Shohei Kimura, while former Renault executives
Christian Vandenhende and Marie-Francoise Damesin lead combined
purchasing and human resources.
The shake-up will lead to a cascade of lower-level
appointments, people with knowledge of the matter said on
Monday, including a new Renault China boss brought in from
(Editing by Greg Mahlich)