Nissan and its ally Renault are to expand their year-and-a-half-old partnership with Daimler by building vehicles based on Mercedes-Benz’s new family of compact cars.
Carlos Ghosn, the Japanese and French carmakers’ chief executive, said Nissan’s Infiniti premium brand would from 2014 build a vehicle based on Mercedes-Benz’s compact architecture used in the new B Class, which the German producer unveiled at this week’s Frankfurt motor show.
Renault is also studying using Mercedes-Benz’s modules for future offerings of “upper-range” cars.
Separately, Mr Ghosn said that Infiniti, which produces most of its vehicles in Japan, might make its next generation of models elsewhere because of what he called an “extremely unrealistic and uncompetitive exchange rate”.
“With the yen to the dollar at 77, there is no way we are going to continue to position our Infiniti cars only in Japan – no way”, he said. “This situation is leading us now to position our next generation of Infiniti cars outside Japan”.
The news came as Mr Ghosn and Dieter Zetsche, Daimler’s chief executive, gave a rosy assessment of their partnership after a week that saw Volkswagen’s foundering alliance with Suzuki descend into open acrimony.
Mr Ghosn said Renault and Nissan’s engineers were working harmoniously with Daimler’s, and took a dig at VW, saying: “The last decade, even just this past week, has been treacherous or difficult for partnerships in this industry”.
Mr Zetsche quipped about sharing wine with Renault in France and sake with Nissan in Japan, and beer with his new partners in Germany.
“If I had to give a school grade, it would be clearly a one with a star,” Mr Zetsche said of the partnership. “As far as I know, in French Facebook language, this means ‘J’aime’”.