Renault President Senard: ‘the Alliance is not dead’
Jean-Dominique Senard was on a visit at the Brussels Motor Show. There he confirmed that the rumors about a possible divorce between Nissan and Renault were completely false. “On the contrary, we will see to it that the Alliance will be in full force again as soon as possible.”
It was the newspaper, the Financial Times, that suggested earlier this week that important people at Nissan were thinking of going solo again and blowing up the Alliance. “This info has no link to reality,” adds Senard, “I’m wondering where these rumors come from, surely not from a good spirit.” Of course, Senard is pointing indirectly to his predecessor Carlos Ghosn.
Carlos Ghosn escaped just before New Year from his Japanese custody (awaiting trial) and is now in Libanon. From there, he is giving one interview after the other, explaining how bad he has been treated, and how good he was for the Alliance.
Meanwhile, he is claiming his 800.000 euros extra pension per year and 15,5 million shares he had ‘earned’ at Renault between 2015 and 2018. Renault says he has no rights on them anymore because he resigned (on January 23 of last year) from his CEO post. Ghosn claims he didn’t resign but only stepped aside during his time in jail to let Renault function without him.
At the same time, there are more and more people questioning the qualities of Ghosn as a big leader. He had certainly been the savior of Nissan in 1999, his leading of Renault has not been as successful as he claims.
Renault has increased its sales by 1 million units yearly over the last ten years, but this is mainly due to Dacia’s success, not Renault’s. Analysts claim that Renault has missed the move to more premium cars and that his bigger (more profitable) models failed.
The operating margin of Renault, for example, is also two points inferior to that of PSA at the moment, a competitor who was almost dead when CEO Carlos Tavares came at the helm (after being ousted at Renault by… Carlos Ghosn).
In the end, the results are mixed, many analysts say. Ghosn has led a very aggressive strategy concerning volumes, very good for gaining market share in emerging countries, but he was not so good in augmenting the profitability of its companies.
Last but not least, he had concentrated all power throughout the Alliance around him, being CEO of Renault and Nissan for a long time as well as being President of Mitsubishi. The Alliance was too dependent on him, and he hadn’t in the least foreseen a successor.
The after-Ghosn era
Jean-Dominique Senard has been picked at Michelin (where he was going to leave soon as CEO) by the French State (important shareholder of Renault) at the beginning of last year to start to save the Alliance and Renault itself.
“In the Alliance, we share the same future, and at the end of January, when our overseeing board meets again, a lot will become clear,” says Senard. “Nobody doubts the importance of the Alliance, look at all the initiatives to work together. By the way, also, our partnership with Daimler on certain projects will continue and even be intensified.”
“The investments we’re obliged to do are considerable,” Senard continues. “We are simply not able to do this alone. But together, the potential of the Alliance is considerable. The whole management is striving to motivate all people at the different companies within the Alliance to do their utmost best.”
Already, Renault has lured away Gilles Le Borgne, head of R&D at PSA, to lead its research and development departments, soon the new CEO will be announced. Most probably, this will be Luca de Meo, ex-Seat, but Renault is still negotiating his departure with the VW Group.
“The hesitation of the consumer to go for the energy transition gets less important. But he needs help. His aim to be mobile doesn’t have to be punished, but encouraged, in the whole world. But the sorts of mobility will be different throughout that world, and they will be combined.”
“I regret that the cooperation between public and private hasn’t been so successful until now. We underestimated the social consequences of this. Renault will be at the forefront to make this better in the future.”
Stronger than ever
To close, Senard is stressing that his company will prevail, stronger than ever. “Renault will be ready at the end of this year; we have no intention to pay CO2 fines. But of course, we will have to use all our means, also those of our colleagues within the Alliance.”
“The underestimated but very valuable and innovative knowledge of Mitsubishi, for example, will be of great importance to the whole Alliance shortly. It’s one of the best in the world. The Alliance is not dead, I can assure you!”