Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard is under increasing pressure to fix the company's relationship with ally Nissan after its other potential partner picked a different suitor.
The alliance partners have had a rocky two-decade partnership that was further shaken by the chairman of their alliance Carlos Ghosn's arrest a year ago -- to the extent that Renault earlier this year attempted a merger with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
With FCA now merging with PSA, Renault is left clinging to its Japanese companion.
Automakers need the heft and scale provided by partnerships to face challenges from electrification, the rising popularity of ride-sharing and the emergence of self-driving vehicles. Sticking to the Nissan pact, and trying to improve it, now represents Renault's best bet to remain competitive in that increasingly cut-throat landscape.
"Renault needs it more than Nissan," Steve Man, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence in Hong Kong, said of the alliance. "They all need to work out those issues and move on and become more profitable."
French finance minister Bruno Le Maire called Senard Wednesday to emphasize the need to define the strategy of the alliance, he told reporters after PSA unveiled its agreement with FCA.
"The alliance remains one very important one in the world and I'm very confident that in the next months, you will have a reinforcement of this industrial strategy for Renault and Nissan," Le Maire said. "That's the priority of the French state."
At the root of the tensions between Nissan and Renault has been a lopsided shareholding structure, with Renault holding 43 percent of the alliance partner and Nissan owning just 15 percent of Renault. Given its bigger size and superior earnings performance in recent years, Nissan has long demanded more sway in the alliance, including that Renault reduce its stake.
With FCA no longer a viable partner option for Renault, the French company has less negotiating power with Nissan, said Tatsuo Yoshida, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence in Tokyo.
At a meeting between the companies this week in Japan, as the deal to combine FCA and PSA headed for the finish line, Nissan executives did not explicitly ask Renault for a reduction in the stake, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named discussing private deliberations.
A Renault spokesman declined to comment. A Nissan representative said there has been no change in the company's stance regarding the alliance.
Senard told a French radio channel this month that lowering Renault's stake in Nissan was not on the agenda, though he cautioned "you can't exclude anything."
In the same radio interview, Senard gave Renault and Nissan just months to amend the union.
"If in 2020 we don't extract the whole virtuous potential of this alliance, I'll consider that I and my teams have failed," he said.
Earlier this year, the Renault chair pushed for the FCA merger despite Nissan's reluctance, and their lack of support for the deal was a chief contributor to its derailment. Nissan wants to focus on fixing the partnership with Renault and viewed the addition of FCA into the mix as too big of a distraction, according to one of the people.
In an attempt to restore trust, both Nissan and Renault have made changes in top management. Nissan replaced its CEO and Renault has embarked on its own CEO search after ousting Thierry Bollore.
Both companies are slowly turning the page on the era of Ghosn, who held their alliance together for years.