LOS ANGELES - An alliance between Renault and Nissan promises to change both companies internationally over the long haul, but don't expect to see Renaults being built or sold alongside Nissans in the United States any time soon.
'You won't see anything really happen in the U.S. for the first three to five years,' said Wes Brown, an analyst with Nextrend in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
Aside from the logistical hassles of setting up a dealer network, he and other analysts point out, Renault also would have to re-engineer cars to meet U.S. safety and emissions requirements and pass a battery of other regulatory tests. All that would take several years at least.
Brown figures the arrangement has the potential to work against Nissan's U.S. operations, at least at first.
'It was hard enough for Nissan North America to tell Japan that they needed specific products,' he said.
'But now they also have to convince the French - who not only don't sell here, but didn't understand the market when they were here. I think you're going to see Nissan continue to struggle to get interesting products for the U.S. market.'
And from Renault's point of view, Nissan's U.S. operation could be a headache, he said.
'If you're Renault, you suddenly will have many more different things pulling for the same investment dollars,' he said.
'Now they have to worry about Nissan and Infiniti clamoring for investment dollars, and that's a delicate balance. Look at Ford and Mazda and how difficult that has been with Mazda clamoring for more money and Ford telling them they can't have it.'
However, in the shorter term, Renault-built parts may appear in Nissan vehicles here or in Japan, or vice versa for the European market, analysts said.
After all, both companies build a 1.6-liter twin-cam four-cylinder engine. No need to have them both, nor to duplicate transmissions, noted Jim Hall, vice president of industry analysis for AutoPacific in Southfield, Mich.
Will Renaults be built at the Nissan plant in Tennessee? Again, unlikely for several years.
Renault may be eager to get into the Smyrna plant, which is rated by Harbour & Associates as the most efficient in North America. But Smyrna already is well spoken for with products.
While not running at capacity - especially with the moving of Sentra to Mexico - Smyrna is chock-a-block with truck variants, still has the Altima, and will build the next Maxima.
'All that will happen with Smyrna is Nissan showing Renault why it is so efficient,' said Brown.
'Probably some top Nissan managers will go to Europe to fix Renault's plants, and that's what Renault is so excited about.'