Renault considers a possible partnership with Mitsubishi, which already has an alliance with Nissan’s, the French automaker’s partner.
“Nissan is already cooperating with Mitsubishi. Renault is looking for opportunities, but hasn’t yet decided for the moment,” a person familiar with the situation told Le Figaro newspaper. “It could be the same type of project as the cooperation with Mercedes.”
Renault, which controls 43.4% of Nissan, has alliances with Daimler and Russia Avtovaz, for various projects. Renault and Mercedes work together to develop future Smart and Twingo vehicles, commercial vehicles and engines.
In June, Nissan will begin selling its first minicar manufactured in partnership with Mitsubishi in Japan. Nissan has already begun manufacturing the minicar at Mitsubishi’s Mizushima plant located in the Okayama prefecture. Beginning with June the vehicle will be sold as the Nissan DAYZ and Mitsubishi eK Wagon.
“It’s important to introduce mini vehicles if you want to expand in the domestic market,” said Kohei Takahashi, an analyst with JPMorgan Chase & Co. in Tokyo. “In the Japanese market, which is shrinking, this is one of the very few growing segments.”
The minicars, known is Japan as ‘Kei’ cars, are favored due to their easy handling and low cost. Analysts predict that sales of this segment will continue to increase even if total industry demand begins to drop, caused by the end of government’s incentives.