DETROIT (Reuters) – Renault SA-Nissan Motor Co. Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn said on Tuesday he is still open to a North American partner after a proposed deal with General Motors Corp. fell through last month.
“An extension of the present alliance to a North American partner would make sense,” Ghosn said, speaking to TV network CNBC. “We are not in a hurry. For the moment, we are concentrating on (our) product offensive and watching carefully what’s going on in the marketplace.”
After nearly three months of talks, GM, Nissan and Renault announced in October that they would end their discussions on a possible partnership. GM Chief Executive Rick Wagoner said the automaker would benefit from the proposed alliance far less than Nissan and Renault.
GM wanted to be compensated for the perceived imbalance, but Renault-Nissan said that demand contradicted the spirit of an alliance.
“One of the reasons is that we didn’t want to pay, but more generally … we did not share the same ideas on how to make the synergies work,” Ghosn told CNBC on Tuesday.
Separately, the CEOs of GM, Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG’ Chrysler Group discussed their competitive concerns with President George W. Bush on Tuesday, including the Japanese yen, which they say is artificially undervalued and puts them at a competitive disadvantage.
In response, Ghosn told CNBC that Nissan does not benefit from the weak currency. “Today more than 80 percent of the cars we sell in the U.S. are made in the U.S. or North America,” he said. “If someone is benefiting from the currency, it’s certainly not us.”
Ghosn said Nissan faces the same problems of high healthcare and commodities costs in the U.S. market as the Big Three. “We have the same problem, not the same magnitude,” he said. “We are also trying to put healthcare costs at a level consumers are willing to pay for.”
Ghosn also said he expects a slightly weaker U.S. market in 2007.