As a follow-up to yesterday’s news that Renault-Nissan and Daimler began production of shared four-cylinder gasoline engines in Decherd, Tennessee, the two auto giants announced that they will expand the scope of their collaboration. The automakers will build a new joint manufacturing plant in Aguascalientes, Mexico, with the $1.36 billion (€1 billion) investment cost split 50:50.
Once completed, the factory will add 5700 workers and an annual capacity of 300,000 vehicles once production reaches full steam.
The new Mexican plant will construct next-generation compact cars for both Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz in 2017 and 2018, respectively. These include replacements for the current Mercedes-Benz CLA and GLA, as well as an Infiniti successor to the upcoming Infiniti Q30 four-door hatch and QX30 compact crossover. The first iteration of the Q30, set to debut sometime next year, will share its modular front-wheel-drive (MFA) platform with the current Mercedes-Benz A-, B-, and CLA-Class.
According to an earlier report from European bureau chief Georg Kacher, the successor to this platform will be code-named JC1 platform and will offer up to 10 bodystyles. Of these, Infiniti will opt for a four-door sedan to compete with the Audi A3, as well as a long-wheelbase seven-seater which will have a seven-seat Mercedes-Benz GLB twin.
Renault-Nissan and Daimler insist that despite the similar underpinnings, close collaboration will ensure that vehicles on shared platforms will manifest distinct specifications and design character in line with their respective company’s trends. A simple rebadging and facelift is not part of the plan.
It’s entirely possible that the four-cylinder gas engines which just launched production will be an integral part of this new generation of luxury compacts. Currently, the engines are destined for European- and Chinese-market versions of the Infiniti Q50, as well as the 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
Daimler and Mercedes-Benz have been working together since 2010. Although plans for a Mercedes-Benz X-Class subcompact, which would have shared its architecture with the Nissan Micra and Renault Clio, were nixed, other projects are still moving ahead. Next up is the latest generation of the Smart Fortwo (and Forfour) microcars which are built alongside the Renault Twingo.