Nissan's long-term distribution plan has been for its European dealers to link up with those of alliance partner Renault.
But Spanish dealers are resisting Nissan's move. Nissan's pan-European goal by the end of next month is 45 percent of the 430 dealers. Elsewhere, many of the Japanese automaker's dealers agreed to sell French Renaults. But in Spain, only 9 of 72 dealers have done so.
The Spanish Nissan dealers say their dispute is financial. But are other forces at work?
"First we hate the French since Napoleon invaded us," joked one Madrid-area dealer. Then he relented.
"Since Nissan started operations here in the 1980s, our core business is four-wheel-drive vehicles and trucks," he said. "They have very good margins, while French margins are very low."