Partnerships among the world’s automakers appear to be increasing, be it a win-win collaboration on technology or a full-blown merger. The latest report from Automotive News Europe suggests the latter, this time between Renault and Nissan that would eventually include Fiat Chrysler Automobiles as well. The information comes from a report in Financial Times (subscription required) that cites anonymous sources allegedly in the know about the deal on both sides of the fence.
The Nissan-Renault marriage isn’t anything new. Nissan’s former CEO Carlos Ghosn was said to be cooking up something nearly a year ago to the day, after talking about a plan to make the merger “irreversible” in February 2018. As it stands, both companies are already linked with ownership stakes; Nissan holds 15 percent of Renault while the French company has 43 percent of Nissan. At this point it seems inevitable, though legal issues – specifically, approvals from both the Japanese and French governments – could slow the process.
A new alliance board with Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard is allegedly working on pushing the deal through sooner rather than later, but the FCA portion of this saga is a new twist. During the tenure of FCA’s former boss Sergio Marchionne, there were more than a few rumors regarding mergers and purchases, primarily with Chinese automakers. This new report speaks of a freshly merged Renault-Nissan company seeking to acquire FCA as well, ultimately creating a large corporation with enough clout to compete with the likes of Toyota and Volkswagen. In this scenario from Finacial Times, a Renault-Nissan alliance would go after FCA within 12 months.
As for FCA, there hasn’t been much talk of partnerships or mergers since Marchionne’s passing last July. That’s not to say such talk is nonexistent – FCA CEO Mike Manley told reports at the Geneva Motor Show that the automaker is open to partnerships that would make sense and provide a better return to shareholders.
The next 12 months should be very interesting.