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Nissan denies gaming out split from Renault alliance

The automaker issued a statement following a report citing growing tensions within the alliance.

Things aren't well in the alliance, it appears.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

Former Nissan and Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn is a wanted international fugitive, but a free man. Following a wild escape that allegedly involved smuggling the man in a musical instrument case, a new report paints an unwell picture within the Renault-Nissan alliance.

According to the Financial Times on Sunday, Nissan has begun gaming out a total split from its longtime French partner Renault. The plans go as far as a total split from engineering and manufacturing, the publication said.

Nissan on Tuesday shot down any idea that it's looking to end the alliance relationship and issued a statement declaring "Nissan is in no way considering dissolving the alliance."

"The alliance is the source of Nissan's competitiveness. Through the alliance, to achieve sustainable and profitable growth, Nissan will look to continue delivering win-win results for all member companies," the company said.

Two sources in the report said the relationship between both companies had become "toxic," and only worsened in the aftermath of Ghosn's departure in 2018. Fresh leadership at both automakers has, according to these sources, not helped the situation. Still, Renault's current chairman, Jean-Dominique Senard, is set to unveil new alliance projects that are aimed to show the partnership is still a healthy one.

Indeed, Nissan's statement said its Alliance Operating Board, which governs the automakers' partnership, "all agreed on programs to significantly enhance and accelerate the operational efficiency of the alliance for the benefit of the member companies" this past November.

However, the purported divorce plans supposedly look exactly at what Nissan gains from the relationship and what it would need to tackle should it decide to go it alone. It likely wouldn't be a forever thing, though. In a world where automakers continue pairing off to share the financial burden of technology development, Nissan would likely look to find a new friend out there.

And there's the matter of just how messy it would be for the automakers to end things. Both automakers have a combined purchasing operation, and FT reported the upcoming Nissan electric crossover based on the Ariya concept will use a co-developed platform with Renault.

Through it all, there's Ghosn, who's free to speak as he pleases at the moment. The former industry titan could have a lot to share.

Originally published Jan. 13.
Update, Jan. 14: Adds statement from Nissan denying plans to dissolve the alliance.

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