Curbside Newsstand: Renault Wants To Merge With Nissan and FCA; Pickups Booming in China

Renault once bailed on Jeep, after having bought a controlling stake in AMC. They ended up selling AMC to Chrysler, but now Renault wants it back. According to this story in autonews, the Financial Times is reporting that Renault wants to restart merger talks with Nissan within 12 months, and then bid for FCA,creating a global powerhouse to challenge Toyota and VW.

China is on the verge of a pickup boon for personal-leisure use, on a scale that would make it the second largest pickup market after the US. needless to say, Ford is salivating.

Deposed Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi Alliance CEO Carlos Ghosn had of course been pushing for a merger between Renault and Nissan, but Nissan wasn’t having it, as it has increasingly been feeling like it was the whale ($35 billion market cap) getting swallowed by the minnow ($18 B market cap). But of course there was more there than just that, as the power dynamics surrounding Ghosn were creating tensions of their own. Now that Ghosn is out of the way, the Alliance partners have re-affirmed and redefined their relationship, and things are apparently working more smoothly.

But whether Nissan would allow itself to be absorbed, twice in this case, is a big question.

FCA had of course been courting a merger several years ago, as its former CEO Sergio Marchionne felt that was the only solution to reduce unnecessary capital investments in development and production. After being rebuffed by GM and Ford, Marchionne decided to focus on making FCA stronger by eliminating its debt and improving margins. Mission accomplished, and now FCA CEO Mike Manly is clearly open to bids. But they better be the right ones, as apparently he rebuffed an overture from PSA, because he didn’t want to increase FCA’s exposure to the European market.

Stay tuned…

China is unleashing a new market segment, pickups for (American style) leisure use. Pickups were strictly commercial vehicles, and restricted in where they could be used and were required to have signage on them identify them as such. But that’s been falling away, and pickup sales, like this Great Wall Fengjun 6, are surging.

Sales last year topped 450k, which is ahead of Canada, making China the 32 market for pickups. But that’s just the starting point, as sales are projected to increase to 1 to 2 million per year (US: 3 million).

Great Wall and other domestic makers along with Ford are gearing up production capacity. More at

My CC on how Renault played a key role in the most successful Jeep ever, the Cherokee, is here