Thursday 16 January 2020 11:52 am

Renault chairman: 'Real desire' to make faltering Nissan alliance work

Renault’s chairman has dismissed claims that the 20-year partnership between the French manufacturer and Nissan might be breaking down.

Jean-Dominique Senard said today that there was a “real desire” at the alliance to make a success of it. This comes despite more than a year of turmoil caused by the arrest of its architect Carlos Ghosn. He was detained in Tokyo in November 2018 on financial misconduct charges, all of which he denies.

Ghosn disrupted attempts to restore order by fleeing the Japanese justice system for Lebanon. At his subsequent press conference in Beirut he said the alliance, now little more than a “masquerade,” was doomed.

Nissan has robustly denied his allegations that it plotted to unseat him to rid the alliance of French influence from Renault. Meanwhile, both firms have poured scorn on suggestions that two decades of collaboration have turned sour.

“We have a board overseeing the alliance which is made up of people who are all extremely in favor of the alliance,” Senard said. “There is a common desire to associate our strategic plans and a real desire to make this alliance a success.”

He described reports that Nissan was war-gaming scenarios for a future outside the alliance as “fake news”. However, he repeatedly declined to comment on Carlos Ghosn. “I only think about the future,” he added.

Senard told reporters the operating board of the alliance would meet this month. He said they would discuss future industrial plans which could muster “substantial” savings, but refused to give more detail.

Stalling: Nissan and Renault suffer unstable times

Nevertheless, both Nissan and Renault are enduring periods of instability at the top. A new chief executive started at the Japanese firm in December, and inherits a company reeling from plummeting sales.

Meanwhile, Renault is still searching for a new boss after dethroning Ghosn-ally Thierry Bollore in October. Luca de Meo, former head of Volkswagen’s Seat brand, is thought to be a front runner.

The car industry is battling a slowdown in demand across the globe which has blown a hole in many firms’ profits.

Meanwhile, companies are racing to get ahead in bringing electric cars and autonomous vehicles to the mass market. This has prompted huge investment across the globe.

The combined financial hit has already caused some of the biggest in the industry to partner up to share costs. Last year, Volkswagen and Ford announced an alliance, while Renault rival PSA is in the process of merging with Fiat Chrysler.

Subsequently, analysts see the Nissan-Renault alliance as crucial to both companies’ futures.