Wednesday, November 2, 2016


Just like our interpersonal relationships, making a marriage between corporations work, demands that each side bring complementary commitment, skills, and integrity to the union.

I’ve written recently about the corporate marriage between Daimler AG and the Renault-Nissan Alliance, especially in respect to the new Infiniti Q30/QX30 program.
Despite the convenient provision of all the important mechanical Mercedes-Benz GLA bits to make a new Infiniti, you may wonder why Daimler AG is happy to hop into bed with Japan’s second largest carmaker.

The explanation lies in Aguascalientes, a short one hour, 580km, flight northwest of Mexico City.

Daimler and Nissan have just broken ground on a 50:50 joint venture to establish a new facility there, which will produce both Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz premium compact cars, from late 2017. The partners will invest USD$1 billion and the facility will employ 3600 people, producing 230,000 vehicles a year.

The plant is in addition to two other Nissan manufacturing factories in Cuernavaca and Toluca, where it also maintains an R&D facility. Nissan has at various times topped the Mexican sales charts, beating Mexico’s biggest brand, Volkswagen.

However, what really impressed the Daimler Group, was the speed with which Nissan was able to clear the regulatory and cultural hurdles, and get the Aguascalientes plant up and running. In Mexico, like a number of third world countries, there is a major benefit in being long-established, having proven credentials, and satisfactorily adjusting corporate attitudes to local culture and conditions.

Although it began Mexican operations in 1990 Daimler simply does not have such an intimate relationship with the local authorities in Aguascalientes. Nissan has been in Mexico since the early 60s, and its locally-produced version of the Nissan Sentra has now overtaken the humble VW Beetle ‘bug’ as the nation’s largest fleet of bright green taxi cabs.

But vitally important qualities that the Renault-Nissan Alliance also brought to the joint venture was its expertise in metal stamping, tool draw, and the many intricate operations required to form uniquely-styled metal body panels.
Graphic examples of Nissans skill in 'tool draw', creating long, longitudinal creases,
with complex compound profiles
Despite what may appear to be 'gimmicky' design flourishes
around the C-pillar, they create a point of difference

Nissan has won an excellent reputation worldwide for its stamping, and casting operations.

The Q30/QX30 project is a prime example, when you observe the sharp creases, folds and finite styling lines the designers applied to this unique body. 

Together with Mercedes-Benz’s reputation for high integrity engineering and development means that this marriage of convenience can be more than just one car.

The German giant is no more insulated from events outside its control than any other large corporation, but this marriage with the Renault-Nissan Alliance is not only an impressive combination of strengths, but in a European Union which constantly stares down the threat of deep fractures, it can be a very important socio-political component of Franco-German relations.

Viewing this marriage in a slightly abstract, but global view is an important harbinger for the survival of both these carmakers as the economic, environmental and social pressures mount in the decades ahead.

It may not guarantee survival, but it sure as hell gives both parties comfort to plan ahead. Remember, the time scale to bring a new car to market varies between 36 and 60 months, so a significant semblance of organized planning, stability and support from reliable partners is a vital element.

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