HOW RENAULT-NISSAN-MITSUBISHI WANTS TO BECOME THE WORLD’S LARGEST AUTOMOBILE MANUFACTURER

What was the business group that sold the most cars last year? According to the Alliance Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, I was her. According to the Volkswagen Group, it was him. The fall of the arm should last until the middle of the year when Rica (an association that congregates the “Anfaveas” around the world) to disclose the balance of manufacturers worldwide. Why so much delay in a globalized and digital world? Because many companies do not act directly in all countries of the globe and rely on consolidated data by nominated importers. Meanwhile, each company releases its annual balance sheet, at its own discretion. And even consultancies differ in how they account for global sales. Do heavy vehicles enter or not in the account? What stock ownership in the brands is enough to say that it is controlled or not by a certain group? Confused, is not it? Let’s focus only on the two conglomerates who call themselves champions. Renault-Nissan bought in 2016 most of the shares of Japan’s Mitsubishi, which is why it made such an incredible jump in the ranking. In addition to the three largest brands, the Alliance controls the Romanian Dacia, Korean Samsung and Russian AutoVaz (Dona da Lada), not to mention the Alpine, Infiniti and Datsun divisions. The Volkswagen Group has an enviable range of flags, such as Porsche, Audi, Skoda, Seat, Lamborghini, Bentley, Bugatti and even MAN and Scania heavy-duty vehicle brands. The Franco-Japanese Alliance does not consider heavy vehicles. Other than that, there are the complex joint ventures with Chinese companies. VW makes vehicles in partnership with FAW and SAIC, while Nissan has an agreement with Dongfeng. According to the Alliance accounts, it registered 10.61 million vehicles in 2017, compared to 10.54 million in the VW Group. In addition to the heavyweight, the Germans, undisputed leaders in 2016, jump to the top with 10.74 million. Vice leader in 2016, the Toyota Group fell to third with sales of 10.3 million. General Motors, the global leader for more than seven decades, ranked fifth behind Korea’s Hyundai-Kia.

This dispute over hegemony hides strategies of synergies, market disputes, advantages in contracts with suppliers and governments, among other things. And Brazil is not left out of this dispute between giants. Not by chance, the five global leaders are the ones who are investing the most in the country. VW, after years of lethargy and fall in Brazil, finally began to invest in a massive and intelligent, as evidenced by the success of Polo and Virtus. As a result, it is already the fastest growing brand in Brazil this year. He overtook Fiat and is looking for the GM leader. Of breaking, will enter with a complete family in the segment of SUVs, the new filet-mignon of the market. Renault and Nissan also keep pace with investment, and the turn of the time will be the lucrative truck segment. But it’s worth keeping an eye on Mitsubishi, as this recent may have repercussions in Brazil. In the Alliance, each of the three major companies has an autonomous performance in terms of brand strategy and commercial (each has its CNPJ, unlike, for example, the unified PSA Peugeot-Citroën). The CEO of the Alliance is the Brazilian Carlos Ghosn, who also holds this position on the board of Renault (just renewed for four years) and Mitsubishi. At Nissan he held that position for 16 years, putting Hiroto Saikawa in his place a year ago. Ghosn’s main focus today is increasingly integrating Mitsubishi into the Alliance. In a recent statement, he said the goal is to increase integration as a way to maximize profits. The areas of procurement, engineering, production and supply chain are the ones that will have the most attention. In September, the corporation presented a medium-term plan that aims to increase annual synergies to more than 10 billion euros, up from 5 billion in 2016. By 2022, the goal is to reach 14 million units sold per year.

As a matter of priority, Ghosn is striving to put the Mitsubishi operation in Asia, Europe and above all North America on track. Newly appointed Mitsubishi president Fred Diaz is a trusted Ghosn man, with a remarkable stint for Nissan in that country, and famous for his tough management style. And how’s the thing in Brazil? Executives of the Nissan and Renault brands heard by Autooseporte affirm that the country enters the second stage of restructuring of Mitsubishi along with other emerging countries. “If the operation here were for the Japanese, it would already be integrated with the Alliance, there is a legitimate local representative, which leads to a series of considerations,” says a source. Since 1991, when imports have been reopened in Brazil, Mitsubishi is represented by the Souza Ramos Group. It was called MMC Brazil, most recently renamed HPE. The brand was well-developed in terms of marketing, with the organization of rallies that became the reference in the segment. In 1998, the Catalan (GO) factory was inaugurated, with 100% national capital, which produces Mitsubishi cars under license from the parent company. At the beginning of this century, the brand reached its peak of market share, best car covers for outdoor use. However, Mitsubishi’s sales in Brazil have been falling in recent years, in a conjuncture of factors including economic crisis, lack of financial capacity to face new competitors (such as new SUVs) and the involvement of the company’s top executives in the Zealots operation- on charges of bribery in obtaining tax incentives to produce in the Midwest. Last year, Mitsubishi had a 1% share of sales, its worst result in two decades.

With the global acquisition of Mitsubishi by the Renault-Nissan alliance, there are behind-the-scenes conversations about more direct Alliance action. An HPE spokesman acknowledges that the Japanese brand wants to invest more here, but without ruling out the national representative, who still has a long contract to be fulfilled (the source declined to say how many years remain for the next renewal). In fact, in the middle of the year, the company will launch in Brazil the medium SUV Eclipse Cross, imported from Japan, with prices in the range of R $ 135 thousand. It is not known how much the fine would be to cancel the contract with HPE. Renault, for example, had to pay a million-dollar figure in 1996 to then represent (the Cara Group) to take over the local operation. Citroën had to do something similar with the businessman Habit, now an importer of JAC. In addition, the fact that the Goya’s factory is HPE, as well as many of the stores of the brand, makes everything more complicated for Alliance strategists. But sources from the group confirm that Mitsubishi’s downturn in sales in Brazil bothers its global CEO Carlos Ghost, even more so in the bid for leadership with VW. “For being born here and coming often, it is easy for him to understand the implications of an operation such as the Zealots for Mitsubishi’s reputation, or the fact that the Catalan factory produces cars for the competitor Suzuki, who was once the VW Group, and it can go back to being, “says one executive with much access to the global CEO. The internal bet is that after restructuring Mitsubishi in the more traditional markets, Brazil will enter the route of synergies with Renault and Nissan, as the market has been reacting and is seen in the matrix as potentially important in the global puzzle. After all, sales leadership is decided in detail, as in football. The game is just beginning.

FORD MAVERICK GOES BACK TO BRAZIL, BUT AS SUV

Ford announced in the United States that it would only invest in SUVs and pickup trucks. Around here, the American brand slogan is almost the same, but the focus also includes adventurers – smaller crossovers and derivatives directly from touring cars. The brand was considering bringing the Territory and Escape, with emphasis on the cogita, but the dating phase is over and the SUVs will be brought. In addition to them, Ford will bring an SUV in the same price range as the more expensive Escape, the Maverick. He arrives after the Territory and Escape and has a totally different spirit, both in style and vocation. The F-150 also has a chance to return. None of them have official confirmation, and Ford’s advice only says it “does not comment on speculation.”

Maverick: The Return

What’s new is that Ford plans to bring an SUV in the same sub-segment of the Escape, but with a more abrupt off-road vehicle style, while the platform cousin (and price) is more asphalted. The Maverick will be a utility with another proposal: to be also an image car and detonate offroad. If Escape will face the more expensive civilian versions of Compass, he will face Trailhawk. The stated objective is to start an offroad war and the Jeep is the main target. Known internally as the CX430 project, the Maverick is derived from the global C platform of the new Focus, but its styling is inspired by the Bronco, which has body over chassis of struts. So the Bronco prototypes are being spotted as F-150 mules. It is not by chance that the Maverick was nicknamed Baby Bronco. The bid is to look like a root utility, but to be crossover in construction. For now, it was only presented at a meeting with shareholders. The site that discovered the images was Off-Road.com – the virtual address where they found the photos was taken off the air. It was not long before they were reproduced by other media outlets. Ford itself began officially talking about little Bronco in 2018 and released a release that cites Maverick, but still as the “little utility to be named,” and a well-rounded and darkened publicity image (photo above). The headlights are LEDs and have a circle circling them, a touch that helps modernize a retro inspiration. The lights shall be set back against the mudguards. Both are elements also present in the Jeep, although they have been inspired by the original Bronco The construction of Maverick will be in Cuautitlan, Mexico, and it is treated as the model year 2021, which confirms the launch for 2020 – another source says production should start in December next year. Anyway, the project started well before. The integration between Dearborn (brand headquarters) and the Mexican plant (in the vicinity of the capital Mexico City) began to be intensified last year, however, the Maverick began to be played well before that. Without paying import duty, the Ford will arrive in the same track as the Escape.

In turn, the Bronco would also have chances as a jeep with old-fashioned offroad capability. But it would be sold at prices well beyond the range planned for Maverick and would invade the Jeep Wrangler and the future Land Rover Defender (scheduled to arrive in Brazil in 2020). There is also another larger utility in design. Territory is a Chinese-origin SUV derived from the Yusheng S330, a model made by local partner JMC. It is not just a case of changing logos. Ford made some styling changes on the front and interior, apart from other adjustments. The proposal is to face the range of the Jeep Compass up to the Longitude version, with prices below R $ 150 thousand. The measurements are slightly larger, with 4.58 meters in length and 2.71 m of wheelbase. Escape has the same measures, but its proposal is more sophisticated and the price, too. The average SUV was born as Ford and was a derivative of the Focus platform. Its price range can be just above and border the $ 180 thousand in the most expensive configurations. The medium-small pickup ( informally called Courier ) is a product quoted for Brazil, after all, all the letters that Ford has in these segments have been analyzed. But according to Autosport, the most imminent possibility may be the F-150, recently registered in Brazil in its redesigned version. It is always officially discarded, but returned to “maybe”. The large truck market is only occupied by the huge RAM 2500. It will have a smaller version, whose price will be closer to the average. And Ford has a huge range of the F-150, the best-selling vehicle in the United States.