• Nissan Still Wants American Partner

Nissan Still Wants American Partner
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That’s the word from Carlos Ghosn, and he ought to know – he’s the CEO of both Nissan and Renault. But, he says, the company is not currently in talks with any American manufacturers about any form of alliance with Nissan. That according to FoxBusiness.com.

Ghosn earlier romanced General Motors, at a time when greenmailer Kirk Kerkorian was attempting to bail out his investment in GM stock by arranging a splashy stunt that would raise the stock price. GM wasn’t interested. Nissan has also cut a deal with Chrysler to build Nissan designed cars in Mexico and sell them in South America.

(more after the jump)

Though Ghosn declined to assess the relative merits of an alliance with any of the Detroit auto makers, the obvious candidate is Ford. Though General Motors reported a staggering loss last year, most of that money wasn’t real. GM had accrued losses in earlier years which could, had it made a profit later, been used to offset any taxes on those profits. Those were carried on its books as an asset. When they expired, the asset had to be written down to zero value, creating a huge paper loss – but nothing more. GM, in fact, seems to be showing some real financial strength, particularly outside North America. Anyway, GM’s already global, so it doesn’t need a partner to extend its brands.

Chrysler, in contrast, is cash-starved. Nissan is looking for an alliance, not a charity case. It is very likely that Chrysler will ultimately need a large infusion of cash to stay afloat – something Nissan would have no interest in providing.

That leaves Ford. Nissan wishes an alliance with an American auto maker to expand Nissan’s presence in the United States. Ford has that ability. Ford, in turn, could use access to Nissan’s engineering in smaller cars, a weakness in the Ford line-up. Further, though Ford has long-standing operations in Europe, it does not have the resources alone to compete effectively in the emerging markets of Asia and South America. Neither, for that matter, does Nissan – by itself.

For his part, Ghosn appears to be in no hurry to strike a deal. He seems to be happy to let the companies know he’s interested and let them come to him.

Ralph Kalal
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