GUYANCOURT, France - More of Nissan's global purchasing operations are being moved to France, where they are being combined with Renault SA's.
Purchasing engineers at the Renault Technocentre outside Paris are working to commonize about 30 percent of Nissan and Renault global parts and material procurement. In the next 10 years, the companies expect to be purchasing about 70 percent of their parts here jointly.
'Purchasing of everything the customer won't see will be combined,' Technocentre spokeswoman Paula Batchelor said.
The French center will take the lead on sourcing powertrain, raw materials and various other vehicle parts and services for both automakers.
Only about 20 of the 9,000 people working at Renault's Technocentre are Nissan employees from Japan. But the merger of global products and materials is gaining momentum. Renault is preparing to expand the giant technical center next year, bringing in another 2,000 people.
Batchelor could not say how many of the additional engineers and employees will be from Nissan.
The shift of component activity to the new Nissan-Renault Purchasing Organization reflects the two companies' plan to merge their vehicle platforms on a global basis.
Nissan has 27 platforms and Renault has 16. The two plan to consolidate those platforms into 10 shared wheelbases, Batchelor said. So far they have begun a merger of two platforms - the B platform, used on the Nissan Micra and Renault Clio, and the C platform, used on vehicles the size of the Nissan Sentra.
How the combined global procurement operation will affect Nissan's purchasing in Japan and North America has not been decided, a Nissan North America spokesman said. Both local and global sourcing will continue to take place in Japan and the United States, he said.
But the increased role of the French office is certain to require more of Nissan's longstanding Japanese suppliers to create an r&d and sales presence in Europe, just as they did in the 1990s in the United States.
The moves at the Renault Technocentre may say more about Renault's future than Nissan's. Signs at the Technocentre reveal an increasingly worldly outlook for the French automaker.
One of the three cafeterias in the large complex is devoted exclusively to Japanese cuisine. Technocentre personnel have been encouraged to take courses on Japanese culture and customs.
Many of the 2,000 suppliers who work at the center come from outside France, as well as outside Europe, as Renault embraces more suppliers from North America and Asia.
That traffic is making English more common as a working language inside Renault. In the effort to combine the Renault Clio and Nissan Micra, French and Japanese engineers worked together with a heavy reliance on English.
The presence of more Nissan personnel could help Renault reach its own goal of shortening its vehicle development time.
The Technocentre was created in the late 1990s to merge Renault technical personnel from 50 sites around Paris into one efficient workplace. Renault expects the new efficiency to enable it to develop new vehicles in 36 months and eventually in 24 months.
But the first vehicle to emerge from the center, the upper-range Laguna, required 42 months, according to the company.