For French chassis system supplier Auto Chassis International (ACI), the Renault-Nissan alliance was a steep learning curve.
ACI was created in 1999 as a fully owned Renault subsidiary and working with Nissan in Europe brought many challenges.
"Nissan is a very demanding but helpful customer in terms of logistics and in terms of quality," said Bruno de Sainte-Marie, vice president of sales and business development.
The first significant new business from the Renault-Nissan alliance was responsibility for the development and manufacture of suspension components and systems for the global B platform. The first car off the platform was the Nissan Micra assembled in England.
ACI's content includes the twist beam rear axle, and the front subframe and suspension control arms.
ACI has global responsibility for some chassis components on the Ford Focus, but the Renault-Nissan program was the first time ACI had worked on a global platform on such a scale.
The next-generation Renault Clio, due in 2005, also will be based on the same B platform.
One of ACI's strategic tasks is to help the alliance partners achieve big savings through common operations while retaining distinct brand identities.
For example, the front subframe is a common line for the Renault and Nissan cars. But there are specific parts and specific tubular thicknesses that are different.
Renault and Nissan differ in their approach to modular outsourcing.
Renault takes a lot of content from ACI as pre-assembled axle or brake corner modules.
But Nissan ACI delivers only the respective sub-components to the Japanese company's European logistics hub in Amsterdam for delivery to the Sunderland, England, plant.