THE Renault-Nissan Alliance and Daimler AG will expand their five-year strategic cooperation into the pickup truck segment.
Together, Nissan and Daimler will develop a one-ton pickup truck for Mercedes-Benz. Mercedes-Benz recently announced its entry into this segment.
The Mercedes-Benz pickup will share some of the architecture with the all-new Nissan NP300 but it will be engineered and designed by Daimler to meet the specific needs of its customers. The vehicle will have all of Mercedes Benz's distinctive characteristics and features.
The pickup will feature a double cab and will be targeted both at personal use and commercial customers. The primary target markets for the truck are Europe, Australia, South Africa and Latin America.
"Mercedes-Benz is the fastest growing premium brand in the world," said Dr Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars.
"Entering the rapidly growing segment of mid-size pickups is an important step in continuing our global growth path," he added.
"Thanks to our well-established partnership with the Renault-Nissan Alliance, we are able to drastically reduce the time and cost to enter this key segment."
Nissan is the world's second-biggest one-ton pickup truck maker and has been building and selling one-ton pickups for more than 80 years. Since 1933, more than 14 million Nissan one-ton pickup trucks have been used to transport people and cargo, sometimes in the toughest circumstances.
The NP300, sold under the name NP300 Navara and NP300 Frontier (depending on the market), was launched in June 2014 and is currently produced in Thailand and Mexico. Nissan and Renault are already developing a one-ton pickup truck for Renault, which will also share some common architecture with the Nissan NP300.
The truck, which will have a distinctive Renault design, is also Renault's first one-ton pickup truck.
Production of Renault's one-ton truck will begin in 2016 at Nissan's plant in Cuernavaca, Mexico. The pickup will mark Renault's second entry into the pickup segment after the launch of a half-ton pickup later this year.
The Mercedes-Benz one-ton pickup truck will be built by Nissan in the Renault plant in Cordoba, Argentina, along with the Nissan NP300 and the Renault one-ton truck, for Latin America.
The three trucks will also be built in the Nissan plant in Barcelona, Spain, for other markets, excluding North America.
Production of the trucks at the two plants will start by the end of the decade.
The Barcelona plant will produce about 120,000 vehicles annually for the three partners, while the Cordoba plant will produce nearly 70,000 vehicles a year. A high parts localisation rate is expected to expand the supply bases in Spain and Argentina significantly.
"Thanks to our cooperation with Daimler on this project, we will be able to share the cost of investment at the Cordoba plant, while at the same time open up new markets in the Latin American region for the Renault-Nissan Alliance," said Carlos Ghosn, Renault-Nissan Chairman and CEO.
"This project will also allow us to optimise production capacity at the Barcelona plant and enhance our competitiveness in an important segment."
The joint pickup project is the latest milestone in the strategic partnership between Daimler and the Renault-Nissan Alliance, which celebrates its fifth anniversary this month; cooperation among the three companies began on April 10, 2010.
At the time, the scope of the collaboration was limited to three projects, primarily focused on Europe.
Since then, the combined portfolio shared between Renault-Nissan and Daimler has more than quadrupled to 13 projects in Europe, Asia and the Americas.
"This cooperation is one of the most productive in the auto industry, enabling all partners to increase economies of scale while keeping our brands and products distinct," Mr Ghosn added.