Tokyo - Nissan and France's Renault are planning to boost their alliance by bringing together production as well as research and development in a bid to save about $3.8 billion annually, a report said Friday.
Despite their close links - Renault is the Japanese automaker's biggest shareholder and they are both chaired by Carlos Ghosn -
the pair have operated largely independently of each other, except on parts procurement and engine development.
The plan, reported by Japan's leading Nikkei business daily, would see the appointment in April of two directors charged with bringing the businesses closer together in a bid to slash about 400 billion yen ($3.86 billion) in annual costs.
Among the changes would be an effort to make plants more flexible in terms of manufacturing models produced by both automakers, the report said without citing sources.
The blueprint's first test would be launched in 2015 at an existing Indian factory that would produce about 400,000 vehicles a year including brands made by both firms, the newspaper said.
A similar model would be rolled out in a dozen countries by 2020, it added.
The move would reportedly make it easier to expand in regions where the other has less presence - Renault's factories are mainly in Europe and the Middle East while Nissan's are largely based in Asia and North America.
A Nissan spokesman said in a statement that “as a matter of policy, we don't comment on speculation concerning future plans and projects of the Alliance”.
The two firms struck the alliance in 1999, an agreement that called for the pair to maintain strict independence.
Over the years, Ghosn has been widely credited with rescuing a nearly bankrupt Nissan, which is now a major global player and Japan's number-two automaker.
Renault, however, has suffered badly, taking a big hit from the European debt crisis.
The alliance sold 8.1 million vehicles in 2012, including sales by Russian affiliate AvtoVAZ, making it the world's fourth-largest automaker behind Toyota, General Motors and Volkswagen.
Nissan's sales data for last year will be published next week.
The alliance said that in 2012 it generated synergies of about $3.7 billion. - Sapa-AFP