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Ghosn: Nissan-Renault powertrain tie-up sufficient

Automotive News
May 15, 2007 - 8:45 am

ATSUGI, Japan (Reuters) -- Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. and Renault SA, said today that the two automakers' partnership was sufficient to cover a range of powertrain technologies and there was no need to seek tie-ups with others in that area.

"We are maximizing our alliance," he said, noting that Nissan, for instance, was spearheading development of hybrid technology while its French partner was taking the lead in diesel engines.

Ghosn was speaking to reporters at the opening of the Nissan Advanced Technology Center, a state-of-the-art, $750 million (90 billion yen) facility in Kanagawa Prefecture, south of Tokyo, where Nissan will develop next-generation safety and environmental technologies.

Japan's third-biggest automaker trails domestic rivals Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. in clean vehicle technology, but Ghosn has said Nissan had the means to catch up by saving r&d costs and time together with Renault.

The partners share several vehicle platforms and engine technology as well as manufacturing sites.

Asked about tying up with a U.S. automaker a day after DaimlerChrysler AG announced the sale of the Chrysler group to a private equity firm, Ghosn said the time was not right, repeating his view that Nissan and Renault needed to improve their businesses before considering such a move.

"There's no change in our stance," he said. "We're not talking to anybody. Front stage or back stage, there's nothing going on."

He added that any expansion of the Nissan-Renault partnership would be aimed at realizing further opportunities rather than out of necessity.

Ghosn had expressed interest last year in forming a three-way alliance with a U.S.-based automaker to cement a global partnership that now spans Japan and Europe, but has said there was no urgency after talks with General Motors failed to produce a partnership last autumn.

Last month, Nissan posted its first annual profit drop under Ghosn's leadership as vehicle sales fell in its two biggest markets, the United States and Japan.

Higher spending on r&d and facilities is also set to weigh on its bottom line for several years. The new technical center follows the opening of a cutting-edge design center last year, and Nissan is now building its U.S. headquarters in Nashville, Tenn., due to be ready in mid-2008. A new global headquarters in Yokohama, Kanagawa prefecture, will be completed in late 2009.

Nissan, now based in Ginza, the famed shopping district in the heart of Tokyo, has estimated capital expenditures of $4.27 billion (515 billion yen) in the year to March 2008, up from $4.22 billion (509 billion yen) last year, and r&d spending of $4.07 billion (490 billion yen), up 5.4 percent.

Executive Vice President Mitsuhiko Yama****a estimated Nissan's spending on advanced technologies at "roughly 10 to 20 percent" of total r&d outlays.

He said the sprawling new technical center will focus on environmental technologies to achieve the goals laid out under the Nissan Green Program 2010, including development of an in-house hybrid system and the world's first car that can run 100 km (62 miles) on 3 liters of gasoline.
SOURCE: Automotive News
 
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