YOKOHAMA, Japan — Nearly a year after announcing a "new start" for the beleaguered Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, the auto group's leaders say they have a plan to divide up world markets among them and divvy up project authority to avoid future arguments and turf battles.
It is potentially an overhaul that will shore up a once-lucrative global partnership that lately has begun to wobble. But it will take another three months for the details to be worked out.
Executives from the automakers said here last week that the plan will help soothe infighting among them, streamline their product development efforts, boost their productivity and bolster their tumbling profits.
In the past, all such decisions were made by one powerful man — the person who created the alliance, Carlos Ghosn. But Ghosn is now out of the picture, arrested in Japan on charges of financial impropriety and living as a fugitive in Lebanon.
The entity that replaced him, called the Alliance Operating Board, last week said it will divide the world geographically among the three automakers, with each partner spearheading operations in the regions where they are strongest.
Renault will take the lead in Europe; Nissan will be the director in China; and Mitsubishi will head up Southeast Asia. But the companies have not specified the new group leader for North America, although Nissan is the biggest player in the critical U.S. market.
At the same time, future product development will adopt a leader-follower approach, with one company taking responsibility for spearheading a given engineering or technology area for the whole group.
That’s a significant move for the automakers, which have disagreed over the years on certain technologies and components.
"All our decisions will be based on this major principle, which is absolutely key," Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard said of the initiative. "It is a major step."