The ink isn't dry on the new General Motors-PSA Peugeot Citroen partnership, but the signatories already are touting the synergies for product, purchasing and logistics in the auto industry's latest alliance. Each sees huge cost savings, even if there are differing views about the eventual scope of the relationship.
PSA and GM are not alone in recognizing the potential benefits of such an agreement.
"Collaboration" was the buzzword last week during media days at the Geneva auto show. The notion again seems to be driving the short- and long-term decision-making processes at many companies.
Volvo is considering a partner for its next small-vehicle platform. There is talk of another GM joint venture, this one with BMW on advanced fuel technologies. Fiat and Chrysler want to cooperate with another automaker. Daimler and Renault-Nissan will increase component sharing.
Collaboration is happening in different shapes and sizes, and the pace will only accelerate. Western European and North American manufacturers are balancing the mix of downturns in their traditional markets with continued prosperity in new markets. They need to be everywhere to make the business work at home.
Keeping up with technology, which is advancing at a maddening pace in areas such as hybrids, electric vehicles and connectivity, requires enormous investments.
There is an industry template for a successful partnership.
Thirteen years ago, Carlos Ghosn began to craft an alliance from a hobbled Nissan and an ambitious Renault, a relationship that eventually gave both the benefit of scale.
The industry ought to heed the advice of Ghosn, now CEO of the Renault-Nissan alliance.
As he said last week, companies that come together must respect not only the possibility to share but also the necessity to be different. In troubled times, there is a tendency to speed decision-making, rush development and force synergies in the pursuit of a better bottom line.
That can lead to arrangements that benefit one partner but not the other, which Ghosn calls win-lose cooperation. One such deal may lead to other win-lose decisions as the parties try to balance the ledger.
Such an alliance will not last. History is littered with mergers and partnerships that were in no way equal.
If collaborators can maintain their original purpose and respect the purpose of each partner, some might be winners.
There can be no doubt that more partnerships are coming.