TOKYO — Alliance partners Nissan and Renault are fine-tuning their strategy of carving up the world into spheres of influence, but Asia is a new bone of contention as Renault returns to China.
Under a deal the partners announced last year, the French automaker quit passenger-car sales in China and handed the market over to its Japanese partner Nissan Motor Co.
But now, a year and half later, Renault seems to regret retreating from the world's biggest market.
Last week, Renault said it plans to make another run at China, skirting Nissan and its local Chinese ally to partner instead with Geely Holding Group, China's biggest domestic player.
The proposed Renault-Geely joint venture will build and sell hybrids in China and, importantly, also will explore using Renault's assembly plant in South Korea to produce hybrids for Geely's Lynk & CO brand.
Still unclear is what this plan means for Renault's three-way alliance with Nissan and junior partner Mitsubishi Motors Corp.
People close to Nissan management said Nissan still needs deeper discussions with Renault about the ramifications and possible benefits.