There could soon be Renaults sporting underpinnings shared with Volvo, and Renaults made by Geely roaming the world’s streets.
Overnight Renault and Geely signed a cooperation agreement covering China and South Korea.
The two nations are described as “initial key core markets” for the partnership. Renault and Geely will continue to “explore in-depth further potential” with a focus “on hybrid vehicles in the fast-growing Asian markets”.
For China, Geely will produce Renault-branded cars based on the Chinese automaker’s platforms and using its hybrid drivetrains.
Presumably there will be visual differentiation from related Geely models, but we don’t know how deep that will stretch nor how input Renault will have.
The French automaker says it will “contribute on branding strategy, channel and service development, [and] defining [the] appropriate customer journey”.
Renault previously had a joint venture with Dongfeng, but this was dissolved in 2020 due to poor sales.
As for South Korea, the two firms will “jointly explore localisation of vehicles based on Lynk & Co’s energy-efficient vehicle platforms” for the Renault Samsung brand.
Geely founded Lynk & Co in 2016. Positioned between the Geely and Volvo marques in the company’s hierarchy, Lynk & Co uses the Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) that also underpins the Volvo XC40.
Samsung expanded into the world of automobile manufacturing in 1994, but its selection of locally-made, lightly warmed-over Nissan vehicles didn’t trouble the likes of Hyundai, Kia and Daewoo.
The automaker was purchased in 2000 by Renault, which rebranded it as Renault Samsung Motors. Over time the marque has shifted from selling reworked Nissans to Renaults.
Locally produced models include the QM6 (Koleos), XM3 (Arkana), and SM6 (Talisman).
Renault Samsung Motors serves as the main production and export hub for both the Renault Koleos and Arkana.
It’s unclear how today’s cooperation agreement will affect the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance.
Two management leaders from Nissan told Reuters the Japanese automaker was unaware Renault was in talks with Geely.
Renault and Nissan have struggled to define and manage their relationship since the arrest of then-CEO Carlos Ghosn in late 2018.
In 2020 the Alliance announced a new “leader-follower” model with each company assigned to take the lead in certain markets.
As part of the carve up, Renault was the “reference company” for Europe, Latin America and North Africa, while Nissan took a similar role for China, Japan, the USA, and the Middle East.
With today’s announcement, Geely has added another partnership to its growing portfolio.
Thanks to its almost 10 per cent shareholding in Daimler, Geely and Mercedes-Benz have a number of joint projects.
Since 2019 Geely has had a 50 per cent stake in Smart, and is currently developing a new generation of EV models for the city car brand that will be built in China and exported around the world.
In addition to this, Geely owns Volvo, Polestar, Lynk & Co, and LEVC, the company that makes the London’s iconic black taxi cabs. It also holds a 51 per cent stake in Lotus and 49 per cent of Proton.