Daimler and Renault-Nissan began their partnership in 2010 with plans to collaborate on three projects. They've since expanded that and are working on 12 projects together, including building a joint plant in Aguascalientes, Mexico. Renault-Nissan and Daimler are launching their first vehicles developed together from scratch: the Renault Twingo (which went on sale in September) and the new Smart Fortwo and Smart Forfour, which go on sale in November.
Ghosn and Zetsche said the alliance between the automakers is running strong and will expand into any area that makes financial sense for both companies.
In September, Renault began supplying 1.6-liter diesel engines for the new Mercedes C-Class and Vito van, which isn't available in the US as of now. The French brand is also supplying a 1.0-liter, three-cylinder naturally aspirated gasoline engine and a turbocharged three-cylinder gas engine for the Smarts. The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gas engines Infiniti makes in its Decherd, TN plant will go into the Infiniti Q50 sedan and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
Zetsche and Ghosn said the alliance between the automaker is working out better than either company expected. The executives have managed to put egos aside and say they consider any project that might help both automaker. "Nothing is off the table," Ghosn said. In the near future, both companies will be looking at potential joint projects involving automated driving – an area where Mercedes has made many advances.
Both executives said they think the alliance will continue on, even if either of them leaves their posts. The first two years of the partnership were led and pushed by Zetsche and Ghosn, but now "it is more and more self-sustainable," Zetsche said.