Their marriage has been rocky of late, with dirty laundry aired for all to see. Divorce was rumoured, other partners were sought, but perhaps in these difficult times brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s better for Renault and Nissan (which majority owns Mitsubishi) to stick together, weather the storm together.

Now, the three members of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance have reaffirmed their commitment and announced several initiatives as part of a new cooperation business model. This is of course to enhance the competitiveness and profitability of the three carmakers. Nothing truly groundbreaking, but it makes sense, as you’ll read about.

The member companies plan to build on existing alliance benefits in areas such as joint purchasing, by leveraging their respective leadership positions and geographic strengths to support the other partners.

“The Alliance is a unique strategic and operational partnership in the automotive world and gives us a strong edge in the ever-changing global automotive landscape,” said Jean-Dominique Senard, chairman of the Alliance Operating Board and Renault.

“The new business model will enable the Alliance to bring out the most of each company’s assets and performing capabilities, while building on their respective cultures and legacies. The three companies of the Alliance will cover all vehicle segments and technologies, across all geographies, for the benefit of every customer, while increasing their respective competitiveness, sustainable profitability and social and environmental responsibility,” he added.

In this so-called leader-follower scheme for vehicles, the companies will push the Alliance’s standardisation strategy further, from platforms to upper bodies. For each segment, there will be one mother vehicle (leader car) and sister vehicles are engineered by the leading company, with the support of the followers’ teams.

The plan is for leader and follower vehicles to be produced using the most competitive setup, including grouping production where appropriate. Product sharing will continue in light commercial vehicles, where the leader-follower model is already in place. This scheme is expected to deliver model investment reductions of up to 40%, and those benefits are expected to come in addition to conventional synergies that are already in place.

Besides companies taking the lead for particular models that they’re strong in, they will be in charge of “reference regions” as well. “Each company focuses on its core regions with the aim to be among the most competitive and to serve as a reference for the others to enhance their competitiveness,” the statement read.

Here, Nissan will be the reference for China, North America and Japan; Renault in Europe, Russia, South America and North Africa; and Mitsubishi Motors in ASEAN and Oceania. With this, the opportunities for sharing will increase to maximise fixed cost sharing, as well as leveraging each company’s assets, the Alliance says.

Product portfolio updates for Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi will follow the leader-follower scheme. For instance, the renewal of the C-SUV segment post-2025 will be led by Nissan, while the future renewal of the B-SUV segment in Europe will be led by Renault.

In Latin America, B-product platforms will be rationalised, evolving from four variants to only one for both Renault and Nissan products. This platform will be produced in two plants each producing for both brands.

In Southeast Asia and Japan, Alliance members will pursue select opportunities under the same scheme, such as the kei car collaboration between Nissan and MMC. It’s not mentioned in this latest release, but Thai-made trucks can be shared between the two Japanese carmakers as well. With all of the above taken together, close to 50% of Alliance models will be developed and produced under the leader-follower scheme by 2025, the gang says.

Lastly, technology efficiency and sharing. The Alliance is not new to this and can point to the CMF-B platform for the Renault Clio and Nissan Juke, as well as the kei car platform for the Nissan Dayz and Mitsubishi eK Wagon. The CMF-C/D and CMF-EV platforms will follow soon.

The leader-follower scheme will be extended from platforms and powertrains to all key tech. Nissan will be the leader for autonomous driving, and for connected-car tech, Renault will be in charge of an Android-based platform, while Nissan will lead in China. As for the E-body – the core system of the electric-electronic architecture – Renault is in the driver’s seat.

The electric powertrain department is split into CMF-A/B ePT (Renault) and CMF-EV ePT (Nissan), while Mitsubishi will continue to work on plug-in hybrids for the C/D segment. This Alliance says that this new business model will enable members companies to bring out the most of their expertise and competitiveness to reinforce the Alliance as a whole in a radically changing global automotive environment.