PARIS — Renault warned revenue may decline this year, scrapping a previous goal, after first-half profit was hit by weakening car demand and an earnings collapse at alliance partner Nissan in the wake of the Carlos Ghosn scandal. Net income slumped by more than half to 970 million euros ($1.08 billion) in January-June as revenue fell 6.4% to 28.05 billion, the French carmaker said on Friday. Operating profit also dropped 13.6% to 1.65 billion euros. "Given the degradation in demand, the group now expects 2019 revenues to be close to last year's," Renault said — abandoning an earlier pledge to increase revenue before currency effects. A broad-based auto sales downturn has rattled the sector, prompting profit warnings and compounding challenges for Renault and Nissan as they struggle to turn the page on the Ghosn era. Their former alliance boss is now awaiting trial in Japan on financial misconduct charges he denies. Renault's bottom line was hit by an 826 million-euro drop in earnings from its 43.4%-owned partner. Nissan is cutting 12,500 jobs globally after an earnings collapse that it is keen to blame on Ghosn's leadership. But Renault's own performance - reflected in an operating margin that declined to 5.9% from 6.4% the year before - compares less favorably with domestic rival PSA Group. The Peugeot maker bucked the downturn with a record 8.7% profit margin unveiled on Wednesday. Alliance tensions flared after Ghosn's November arrest, worsened when Renault tried in vain to merge with Nissan then Fiat Chrysler, and may be affecting operational performance, investors fear. Citi analyst Raghav Gupta-Chaudhary flagged a lower-than-usual 258 million euros in joint purchasing savings for Renault. "We thought this would be weak in light of the well-documented difficulties with the alliance," he said. Renault blamed falling sales in France, as well as Turkey and Argentina, for a 7.7% revenue drop at its core automotive business, whose profit margin slid to 4% from 4.5%. Operating free cash flow also suffered, coming in at a negative 716 million euros as investment jumped by 742 million euros to 2.91 billion. Renault, which is counting on model launches including a new Clio mini to boost performance in the second half of 2019, nonetheless reiterated pledges to deliver positive full-year cash flow and a margin close to 6%. Renault shares were down 0.5% at 52.02 euros as of 0800 GMT in Paris, after initially falling as much as 2.7%. The stock remains almost 19% below its level on the eve of Ghosn's Nov. 19 arrest in Tokyo.
TOKYO — French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday called for further synergies and alliances to strengthen the Renault-Nissan partnership in a global market. "The Renault-Nissan alliance is a jewel in the industry," Macron told French expatriates in Tokyo. "We created a giant which we must not only preserve but develop synergies and alliances to strengthen it in the face of international competition." His comments appeared to leave open the possibility both of a deeper integration of the 20-year-old Renault-Nissan alliance, which has been shaken by the scandal over its former chief Carlos Ghosn, and tie-ups with other manufacturers. Last month, Renault and Italian-American group Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) announced they were in merger talks. But the discussions were called off after FCA grew frustrated with the role the French state was playing, especially its need to secure agreement from Nissan over how to move the merger forward. Since the break-off of the FCA talks, Renault executives have been looking to rebuild ties with Nissan, which is keen to reduce the influence the French state has in the alliance via its 15% stake in Renault. Renault owns 43% of the Japanese automaker, which in turn holds a 15%, non-voting stake in its partner. Nissan on Tuesday threw cold water on hopes for a quick fix to strained relations with France's Renault SA , saying inequality between the partners could unravel their two-decade-old automaking alliance.
Macron said on Wednesday France would remain vigilant that Carlos Ghosn's presumption of innocence and the former Renault-Nissan leader's rights to defend himself in a Japanese lawcase are respected.
Waymo, Nissan, and Renault have teamed up to bring self-driving cars to France and Japan, the companies announced today. They have inked an exclusive agreement to explore all aspects of driverless mobility services for both passengers and deliveries in these countries. The announcement is a little light on details about any concrete plans to launch self-driving taxi services, for example.
It appears to be an arrangement similar to the ones that Waymo has announced with other car manufacturers. That’s probably why the wording in this announcement is somewhat vague as well.
SAN FRANCISCO — Self-driving car pioneer Waymo is teaming up with automakers Renault and Nissan to make its first journey outside the U.S. with a ride-hailing service that will dispatch a fleet of robotaxis in France and Japan. The partnership announced late Wednesday underscores Waymo's ambition to deploy its driverless technology throughout the world in an attempt to revolutionize the way people get around. The Mountain View, California, company can afford to try because it's backed by one of the world's richest companies, Google, which secretly began working on driverless technology a decade ago before spinning off that project into what is now known as Waymo. After launching its ride-hailing service in France and Japan, Waymo intends to explore other European and Asian markets with Renault and Nissan. "This is an ideal opportunity for Waymo to bring our autonomous technology to a global stage," Waymo CEO John Krafcik said. Waymo, Renault and Nissan didn't set a timetable for when their ride-hailing service will launch. They left most other details vague. It seems likely it will still be several years before Waymo will be in a position to pose a serious challenge to Uber, the world's largest ride-hailing service. Although Waymo's self-driving technology is widely considered to be the world's most advanced, it still isn't adept enough to be trusted without a human poised to take control in case something goes awry with the robot. Waymo had hoped to launch a fully autonomous ride-hailing service last year in the Phoenix area, but instead is still keeping human safety drivers in those vehicles more than six months after it rolled out. That service, known as Waymo One, is still only offering rides to a few hundred passengers that previously participated in a test program. Krafcik told the German newspaper Handelsblatt last year that Waymo will likely use a different brand for its ride-hailing services outside the U.S. That could be one reason Waymo is working with France-based Renault and Japan-based Nissan, household names in their home countries. Waymo has previously struck deals with two automakers, Fiat Chrysler and Jaguar, but those involved ordering tens of thousands of vehicles to be equipped with self-driving technology for services in the U.S. So far, Waymo is only using Fiat Chrysler minivans for its Phoenix service. The partnership with Renault and Nissan also involves a long-time alliance they formed with Mitsubishi. But the fate of that alliance has been in limbo since Carlos Ghosn, the former CEO of both Renault and Nissan, was arrested late last year on charges that included falsifying financial reports.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Renault are looking for ways to resuscitate their collapsed merger plan and secure the approval of the French carmaker's alliance partner Nissan, according to several sources close to the companies. Nissan is poised to urge Renault to significantly reduce its 43.4% stake in the Japanese company in return for supporting a FCA-Renault tie-up, two people with knowledge of its thinking also told Reuters. It is still far from clear whether any concerted effort to revive the complex and politically fraught deal can succeed. FCA Chairman John Elkann abruptly withdrew his $35 billion merger offer in the early hours of June 6 after the French government, Renault's biggest shareholder, blocked a vote by its board and demanded more time to win Nissan's backing. Nissan representatives had said they would abstain. The failure, which FCA and Renault blamed squarely on the French government, deprived both companies of an opportunity to create the world's third-biggest carmaker with 5 billion euros ($5.6 billion) in promised annual synergies. It also shone a harsh light on Renault's relations with Nissan, which have gone from frayed to fried since the November arrest of former alliance Chairman Carlos Ghosn, now awaiting trial in Japan on financial misconduct charges he denies.
(Reporting by Laurence Frost; Additional reporting by Norihiko Shirouzu in Beijing and Giulio Piovaccari in Milan; Editing by Richard Chang)