BERLIN - A top executive of Renault SA has dampened speculation that the recent merger with Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. could pave the way for Renault's return to the North American market.
Renault has no plans to sell its cars in the United States, with or without a Nissan badge, said Carlos Ghosn, Renault's former executive vice president.
'We want to strengthen the Nissan brand in the U.S.,' Ghosn said following a speech at the Automotive News Europe Congress last month. 'When Nissan has fulfilled all its potential in the U.S., which is by far not the case today, then we will think about other options.'
Following the Renault-Nissan merger, observers had speculated that Nissan's Infiniti luxury division might sell a rebadged Renault Avantime in North America. The Avantime debuted this spring at the Geneva auto show.
Based on the Renault Espace minivan, the Avantime is a radically styled vehicle that combines elements of a sporty coupe and a minivan.
Renault and Nissan plan to rebadge vehicles for sale in Europe as early as next year. But Ghosn, who became Nissan's COO in June, said product sharing is not a high priority for North America.
During his brief career at Renault, Ghosn developed a reputation as a cost cutter after he returned the company to profitability. In March, a revitalized Renault bought 36.8 percent of financially troubled Nissan for $5.3 billion.
Ghosn said a detailed turnaround plan for Nissan will be announced around the time of the Tokyo auto show in October.
He said the partners will use jointly developed common platforms and will coordinate purchasing, engineering and manufacturing.
Each side can benefit the other, Ghosn said. Nissan is known for engineering and manufacturing prowess. Its assembly plant in Sunderland, England, has been consistently rated Europe's most efficient. Meanwhile, Renault has been an effective cost cutter and has introduced successful new product concepts.
'Renault has more to bring to Nissan in purchasing,' he said. 'Nissan has more to bring to Renault in manufacturing. Sunderland is today the rabbit for all Renault plants.'