Sharing “upper bodies” made us worry, but we can clarify that.
The Alliance is one of the most singular administration organizations ever created. When it was born, it was defined as a synergy effort from Renault and Nissan. Mitsubishi later joined the group when Nissan bought it. Carlos Ghosn's arrest threatened to put an end to it, but the companies have defined a "leader-follower" format that could make it keep working. But part of it was really worrying. The companies said they would share "upper bodies" of same segment cars besides platforms. Would that mean all EVs and PHEVs would look the same? We seized the Groupe Renault Press Conference last May 29 to clarify this.
As you can see above, our question was if sharing "upper bodies" implied badge engineering, something Renault, Dacia, and Nissan did many times in the past with their regular cars. Renault sells Dacia cars in Latin America with its diamond-shaped logo. The Nissan Aprio is nothing more than a badge-engineered first-generation Dacia Logan.
Clothilde Delbos said that is not the idea and that this would be a mistake. The intention with the upper bodies was not to have to redo everything from company to company. There are things clients do not see, and that can be common, something Delbos names as "first upper body." Unfortunately, she did not detail what this structure would be.
It is a step further than the Common Module Families (CMF) strategy. If the three carmakers can share the platforms and the first upper body, they can have savings of up to 40 percent. Delbos says each company will have its own teams working on the first upper body and on what she called "sister upper bodies" – the part that would ensure each car would look like a proper Renault, Nissan, or Mitsubishi.
Gallery: Is The Alliance Plan To Share "Upper Bodies" A Badge-Engineering Effort?
Our impression is that they will work jointly on the first upper body so that the sister upper bodies each of these teams will later develop could accomplish their task of personalizing each vehicle.
Delbos believes this is a winning strategy because customers that want a Renault not necessarily consider a Nissan or a Mitsubishi as options. The same applies to the other brands involved. In other words, she does not think a client willing to buy a B-segment hatchback will consider all three brands' products due to design preferences.
The interim CEO – who is waiting for Luca de Meo to take the helm on July 1 – also wishes that all the same-segment cars from the three companies can be produced in the same factory. That will lower idle capacity and allow for plant closure, another cost-cutting measure. Renault wants to save €2 billion and will fire 15,000 people.
That means that the Nissan Ariya will probably already be developed to allow for a Renault and Mitsubishi derivatives. The PHEV vehicles from Renault could also present Nissan options. The Captur PHEV could help a Juke PHEV to be sold in the future, for example. The future Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV could be the basis for a new Renault Kadjar, even if we believe the Nissan Qashqai will lead the pack.
Regarding the technologies, we are not sure if they will be shared. Will Renault sell an e-Power version of its vehicles, for example? Or will that be exclusive to Nissan? Renault says it is very interested in solid-state batteries. If it manages to sell an EV with them, will the other two automakers in the Alliance follow suit? We wish we had asked these questions at the conference as well, but they only just occurred to us.