Destabilized for a year by the setbacks of his former boss Carlos Ghosn, the Franco-Japanese alliance Renault Nissan Mitsubishi Thursday launched new major industrial projects to try to restart.
The three groups also decided to create a post of Secretary General of the alliance, responsible for coordinating these projects under the authority of Renault President Jean-Dominique Senard, we learned from a close source of companies.
These decisions seem to mark a new beginning for this paralyzed partnership since the outbreak of the Ghosn affair. They were taken during a council of the alliance, on the morning of Thursday, at the headquarters of Renault in Boulogne-Billancourt (near Paris).
This council, created at the beginning of the year at the initiative of Mr. Senard, and which is convened once a month, brought together the main leaders of the alliance.
In Paris, in addition to Mr. Senard, the new general manager of Nissan, Makoto Uchida, the president of Mitsubishi, Osamu Masuko, the acting general manager of Renault, Clotilde Delbos (named in replacement of Thierry Bolloré, recently sacked) were notably present in Paris. , Mitsubishi General Manager Takao Kato, and Nissan Operations Director Ashwani Gupta.
"We have a list of major programs.It was decided to appoint a secretary general of the alliance, which will have a mission to coordinate and accelerate these projects," said this source, a leader close to the alliance. He mentioned "a very high level personality", chosen internally and with the experience of the three companies.
The new projects launched Thursday concern in particular "the common programming of vehicles, the industrial device, the connectivity programs, the convergence of technologies", said this manager, evoking a "new atmosphere", "a more open mindset , more transparent "between the leaders since the departure of Thierry Bolloré and his counterpart at Nissan, Hiroto Saikawa.
- Profitability revised down -
After the outbreak of the Ghosn affair in November 2018, no constructive dialogue or strategic decision-making was possible, losing a total of one year to the Franco-Japanese group.
The fall of Ghosn, pending his trial for wrongdoing in Japan, revealed a conflict-ridden industrial empire.
Unlike Volkswagen or Toyota, the alliance is not an integrated group, but a partnership based on cross-shareholdings. Renault owns 43% of Nissan, which owns 15% of Renault and 34% of Mitsubishi.
In 2018 the alliance had become the world's leading automaker, selling 10.76 million vehicles, more than Toyota or Volkswagen. But the Franco-Japanese trio has seen its volumes fall this year, to the point of returning to third position ...
More serious, many experts doubt the reality of industrial synergies, while the profitability of the members of the alliance remains well below their major rivals.
Renault and Nissan have recently lowered their operating margin target for this year to 5% and 1.4% respectively of sales. Opposite, Volkswagen shows between 6.5% and 7.5%, despite a scandal of faked engines that cost him tens of billions of euros ... And Toyota caracole more than 8%.
Taking advantage of high volumes of production in order to increase profits and cash flow is considered crucial to finance the technological revolutions that are shaking the automotive industry (electrification, connected vehicles, autonomous driving functions, development of new mobility services).
Senard had failed in the spring to merge Renault with the Italian-American manufacturer Fiat Chrysler (now fiancé to French rival PSA), and has since focused on the restart of industrial initiatives with Nissan and Mitsubishi.
The debate on a reform of the governance of the whole will wait, even if the Japanese still wish a capital rebalancing in their favor.
Renault is also recruiting a new CEO to succeed Thierry Bolloré. A short list of candidates with three or four names is "almost established," according to sources close to the record. Luca de Meo, boss of Seat (Volkswagen Group), whose name has been quoted in the press, is a favorite. The appointment of the replacement could be effective before the end of the year or early next year.
© 2019 AFP