The Navara-based Mercedes X-Class is one of the fruits of Daimler’s partnership with Nissan-Renault. Picture: DENIS DROPPA
The Navara-based Mercedes X-Class is one of the fruits of Daimler’s partnership with Nissan-Renault. Picture: DENIS DROPPA

Daimler is reportedly getting ready to end its association with the Renault Nissan Mitsubishi Alliance, according to a report in Manager Magazin.

The German publication says that soon-to-be Daimler CEO Ola Kallenius will not renew joint projects such as the one that based the Mercedes X-Class on the Nissan Navara, and the Nissan Infiniti Q30 and built the QX30 on the Mercedes A-class platform. Among other collaborations, Renault and Daimler also jointly developed the 1.3 turbo petrol engine that powers the Mercedes-Benz A-Class.

Daimler and the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance haven’t commented, but the decision is thought to stem partly from the arrest of former Renault Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn on financial misconduct charges. The joint projects started in 2010 and were negotiated by Ghosn and outgoing Daimler boss, Dieter Zetsche, who steps aside for Kallenius in May.

Daimler is concentrating on other alliances, including its recent announcement that it will develop the next generation of electric Smart cars to be made in China in a joint venture with Geely, which has a 9.7% stake in Daimler. The current Smart is built on a Renault Twingo platform.

The Daimler-Geely alliance will develop electric and self-driving cars to compete better against new competitors such as Uber and Google. The high cost of electric car batteries has made it hard for carmakers to build affordable zero-emissions vehicles, leading several of them to strike alliances with Chinese partners.

Kallenius also wants to focus on Daimler’s growing partnership with BMW. The two German rivals are teaming up to develop autonomous driving technology to cut costs and set industry standards that can help shape future regulation for self-driving cars.

Ghosn applies for bail over latest indictment

Japanese prosecutors indicted Carlos Ghosn on Monday on another charge of aggravated breach of trust, a Tokyo court said. This is the fourth charge against the former Nissan chair, and h his lawyers applied for bail at once.

The charge came on the day Ghosn’s latest detention period was set to expire. Ghosn had been out on bail when authorities arrested him for a fourth time on April 4 on suspicion that he enriched himself at a cost of $5m to the carmaker.

“We are confident that we have the evidence to successfully prosecute all four cases,” said a prosecution official. 

Carlos Ghosn (right), pictured with Daimler’s Dieter Zetsche in September 2012 when they expanded the scope of their alliance. Picture: SUPPLIED
Carlos Ghosn (right), pictured with Daimler’s Dieter Zetsche in September 2012 when they expanded the scope of their alliance. Picture: SUPPLIED

Ghosn has denied all four of the charges, which include understating his income, and said he is the victim of a boardroom coup. He has accused former colleagues of “backstabbing”, describing them as selfish rivals bent on derailing a closer alliance between Nissan and its top shareholder, France’s Renault.

The case has exposed tension in the Nissan-Renault alliance forged by Ghosn about two decades ago when the French group  invested in Nissan, then on the brink of bankruptcy. The deal gave Renault control of its larger partner.

Nissan is due to reject a management integration proposal from Renault and will instead call for an equal capital relationship, the Nikkei newspaper reported on Monday.

Before Ghosn’s latest arrest, he had been out on $9m bail for 30 days. He is now being held in the same Tokyo detention centre where he was detained for 108 days following his initial arrest on the tarmac at a Tokyo airport in November.

Jaguar designer disses oversized screens

Ian Callum has spoken out against giant iPad-like screens in cars, saying they won’t be in his cars if he can help it.

The Jaguar design director, speaking at the launch of the refreshed XE sedan in New York last week, criticised giant touchscreens like the ones pioneered in the Tesla Model S and which are starting to become more common in cars.

“If you’re driving 80-90 miles an hour — and you can in some countries, legally — you don’t want to be flipping around an iPad looking to move your door mirrors or your seat controls,” Callum said.

“You need to be able to feel your way through the car without looking at it for more than a millisecond,” he said.

Jaguar designer Ian Callum has criticised the supersized tablet-like screens (pictured) found in cars like the Tesla Model S. Picture: NETCARSHOW
Jaguar designer Ian Callum has criticised the supersized tablet-like screens (pictured) found in cars like the Tesla Model S. Picture: NETCARSHOW

The Jaguar XE has two touch-screen systems in the centre of the dashboard. The top one shows important vehicle and driving information, while the bottom one shows less vital things such as climate control. It also retains some old-school tactile interface features to keep the driver feeling involved.

Tactile controls give drivers a sense that they are part of something mechanical, said Callum.