Despite the growing importance of the Renault-Nissan joint purchasing organization, Nissan engineers sometimes resist using Renault suppliers, Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said.
At a press conference in Paris, Ghosn was asked about a reported reluctance to use the partmakers that traditionally do business with Renault.
"It's a healthy resistance," he said. "It's better than hiding problems. In Japan, the relationship with suppliers is very important."
According to Automotive News Europe sources, Nissan engineers are reluctant to buy from non-Japanese suppliers, which they perceive as offering lower-quality parts.
"The bottom line is that the Nissan supplier lineup has changed," Ghosn added.
Nissan now buys from non-Japanese suppliers such as Visteon, Johnson Controls and Valeo, he added.
The Renault Nissan Purchasing Organi-zation currently handles 40 percent of the two companies' purchases. It will handle more than 70 percent in two years, Ghosn said.
The biggest savings won't occur until 2005, when the alliance partners start building cars off joint platforms in large numbers.
But Renault and Nissan will remain very different organizations, if only because of their geographical spread, Ghosn said. "Renault products are oriented toward Europe. It remains focused on Europe despite its internationalization," he said.
Nissan sees Japan, the USA and China as its core markets, he added. Nissan plans to sell 550,000 vehicles in fast-growing China in 2006, 330,000 of them trucks. That is more than the 530,000 cars it plans to sell in Europe in 2003.
"Our centers of gravity are going to remain different, with a different focus on mix and products," Ghosn said.
For instance, Nissan is currently developing fuel cells and hybrid cars for Japan and the USA, while Europe is "geared up toward diesel," Ghosn said.
Nissan says it does not expect fuel cell and hybrid cars to arrive in the mass market before 2010.