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Renault Eyes Global Auto Market

October 22, 1999

TOKYO (AP) _ Renault SA’s alliance with Nissan Motor Co. will help the French automaker boost its share of the global market and possibly get back into the U.S., the company’s top executive said Friday.

Renault, which bought a 37 percent stake in Nissan earlier this year, is looking to the Japanese company for lessons about about efficiency and quality, Renault chairman and Chief Executive Officer Louis Schweitzer said.

``Japan, and specifically Nissan, are a benchmark of quality,″ Schweitzer said. ``Clearly, we have things to learn from Nissan in our manufacturing processes.″

Renault will not attempt to reintroduce its brand in the United States, a market it fled 12 years ago with a reputation for poor-quality cars, Schweitzer said.

But he said the company will consider selling Renault vehicles in the United States under the Nissan brand name.

The remarks came just days after Nissan’s new chief operating officer sent by Renault, Carlos Ghosn, announced drastic measures to cut costs at the debt-ridden Japanese company by shutting down plants and shaving off 14 percent of its work force.

By the end of the year, 17 executives from Renault will be at Nissan, while 21 former Nissan executive will be working at Renault, Schweitzer said. He stressed, however, that the two companies will maintain their separate identities.

``It is an alliance, not a merger,″ Schweitzer said. ``We do not want to try to merge the French culture and the Japanese culture.″

Schweitzer said Renault will use Nissan’s worldwide administrative and sales network to help it enter markets such as Mexico, a country where it lost money and left in the past.

Schweitzer also said that Renault is not ready to inject more money into Nissan Diesel Motor Co., Nissan’s ailing truck subsidiary.

Nissan Diesel must solve its own debt problems first before the French automaker will consider possible cooperation with its own truck-making arm, Renault VI, he said.

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