June 19, 2013 / 4:41 PM / 5 years ago

REFILE-Renault promises savings on new car architecture

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PARIS, June 19 (Reuters) - French carmaker Renault has pledged to slash the cost of developing future models by 30-40 percent as it rolls out a new generation of vehicle architectures with alliance partner Nissan.

Parts costs will ultimately fall by 20-30 percent for models based on the shared “CMF” technology as production begins later this year, Renault engineering and quality chief Jean-Michel Billig also said on Wednesday.

“This is a new step for the alliance,” Billig said during a briefing at Renault headquarters in the Paris suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt.

Mid-sized carmakers like Renault and its 43.4 percent-owned Japanese affiliate are struggling to compete with the economies of scale commanded by auto giants like Volkswagen. That arrival of so-called “modular” vehicle platforms threatens to widen their advantage, pressuring rivals quickly to follow suit.

Modular industrial designs allow cars to be launched in a broader range of sizes, shapes and price brackets from common sets of parts. That lowers development costs for each new model and generates bigger orders for suppliers, driving down component prices.

CMF, which stands for “common module family”, is Renault-Nissan’s answer to the MQB modular system introduced with Volkswagen’s latest Golf and Audi A3 compacts.

Nissan will begin assembling the first CMF-based vehicles later this year to replace its Qashqai, X-Trail and Rogue models. Renault follows suit in 2014 with an updated Espace people-carrier, followed by successors to the Laguna midsize car and Scenic minivan.

A common architecture developed in India for low-cost small cars will be ready for 2015, Billig also said - joined the following year by a new blueprint for subcompacts such as the Renault Clio and Nissan Micra. (Reporting by Laurence Frost; editing by Patrick Graham)

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