Liberty Walk Does A… Toyota Prius? Well, Why Not?

Liberty Walk Does A… Toyota Prius? Well, Why Not?

The popularity of the Toyota Prius is undisputable, and with so many units sold all over the world, it's no surprise that some owners want to personalize them. And if a very flashy look is on their bucket list, then Liberty Walk is the tuner to go to.

Why A Renault-fca Merger Could Be Good News For Nissan, Mitsubishi

Why a Renault-FCA merger could be good news for Nissan, Mitsubishi

TOKYO — Nissan's advanced technologies including platforms and electric powertrains could give it leverage in a merger involving Renault and Fiat Chrysler, thanks to a royalty system it has with the former, two people with knowledge of the matter said. A merged Renault-Fiat Chrysler could face an extra hurdle each time it uses technology developed by Nissan or Mitsubishi Motors, while the two Japanese automakers stand to gain a client in Fiat Chrysler (FCA), one of the people said. Both sources declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter. Nissan's technology, particularly in electrification and emissions reduction, could give it some sway in the $35 billion potential tie-up between Renault and FCA, even as its stake in the newly formed company would be diluted. Currently Renault SA pays less for technology developed by Nissan than the Japanese automaker pays for French technology, a third person said. This has long been a sticking point for Nissan, and an area where Nissan could seek more favorable terms. "Whenever Nissan transfers platform, powertrain or other technology to Renault, there is a margin or royalty which Renault has to pay for use of that tech," one of the people said. "In that sense, FCA, if everything went well, would become another 'client' of ours and that's good. More business for us." A Nissan spokesman declined to comment on its royalty system. The potential Renault-FCA deal has complicated the Japanese automaker's already uneasy alliance with Renault. A further deal with Fiat Chrysler looks likely at least in the near term to weaken Nissan's influence in the 20-year-old partnership. Renault owns a 43.4% stake in Nissan and is its top shareholder. Nissan holds a 15% non-voting stake in Renault and would see that diluted to 7.5% after the FCA deal, albeit with voting rights. The imbalance between the two has long rankled Nissan, which is by far the larger company.

Alliance imbalance

Renault had previously angled for a merger with Nissan but has been rebuffed by CEO Hiroto Saikawa. Securing benefits from the merger deal will be important for Saikawa, who is grappling with poor financial performance while he struggles to right the company after the ouster of former chairman Carlos Ghosn last year. By joining forces, Renault and FCA hope to consolidate what would have been two electric vehicle development programs into one, and then deploy the resulting technology across a much larger range of vehicles, reducing costs. FCA, which foresees trouble in meeting with increasingly stringent emissions regulations in both Europe and China, would likely benefit significantly from Renault powertrain technologies. Much of these technologies have been beefed up by R&D led by Nissan, the first automaker to launch a mass-market all-battery electric vehicle (EV). The Nissan Leaf is the world's top-selling EV, with sales of more than 400,000 since its launch in 2010. The company has also found unexpected success with its e-Power gasoline hybrid system. It could use its technology as a negotiating tool with Renault and FCA. Technically, any deal between Renault and FCA would not involve any structural change in Renault's confidential partnership agreement with Nissan, the Restated Alliance Master Agreement, although FCA would join Renault as a counterparty to the pact. But Nissan does stand to benefit from a more balanced capital structure in the merger. As the combined Renault-FCA company would be domiciled in the Netherlands, the French government would lose its double shareholding permitted under France's Florange Law. As a result, the French government would be left with a 7.5 percent voting stake in the new company, potentially easing a source of tension between Nissan and Paris, as the current arrangement effectively hands the government outsized influence over the Japanese automaker.

Regional competitors

There is also the issue of regional overlap. FCA and Nissan are rivals in the North American truck and SUV market, where Nissan has struggled with poor margins. "Nissan is struggling in the United States. Will pairing up with Chrysler help? Not really." said Takeshi Miyao, managing director of consultancy Carnorama. He said Nissan could seek compromises in other areas if Renault-FCA were to seek consolidation in the region. Southeast Asia, where the third member of the Renault-Nissan alliance — Mitsubishi Motors — dominates vehicle sales, could also be an area for potential horse-trading with Renault and FCA as they expand their presence in the fast-growing market. Here, Mitsubishi could negotiate hefty concessions in return for distribution in Indonesia, Thailand and other countries. "Our main market is the ASEAN countries, so we would like to know how cooperation would look in this region," Mitsubishi Motors Chairman Osamu Masuko said on Wednesday. "There are areas where making decisions may be difficult."

Why On April 1

Why on April 1

The government's decision to set the date for April 1... one month before Crown Prince Naruhito's ascension... did not come easily.

When the Diet enacted a bill to allow the current emperor to step down, the government assured the public it would take necessary measures to avoid any confusion that could occur from a switch in the era name, or "Gengo."

Why Did Ghosn Leave Detention In Disguise?

Why did Ghosn leave detention in disguise?

Former Nissan Motor chairman Carlos Ghosn walked out of detention wearing work clothes, a cap and a surgical mask after he was released on bail on Wednesday.

Sources say Ghosn's lawyers told the detention house that they wanted him dressed in a work uniform and driven away in a small van.

Why Is It Called Mazda Cx-30? Plus Other Questions Answered

Why is it called Mazda CX-30? Plus other questions answered

GENEVA — Mazda just introduced its latest crossover, the CX-30, and it left us raising an eyebrow. It's planned for a global release, including the United States, and it's supposed to slot between two compact crossovers that one might not think had room for another model. Plus it has a name that doesn't fit Mazda's typical nomenclature. So we thought we'd take a little time to explain some of those things, starting with the name.

Mazda arrived at the CX-30 name because of a self-created problem: the Chinese Mazda CX-4. The CX-4 name would be perfect for the CX-30, since it would fall right between the CX-3 and CX-5 where it's positioned. But with the name taken, and evidently no plans to discontinue, replace, or rename that Chinese model, Mazda needed something else, and fractions and decimals weren't on the table. So appending a zero was the plan.

Here's Why Xperia Cameras Have Never Lived Up To Their Potential

Here's why Xperia cameras have never lived up to their potential

It's a mystery that has perplexed Sony Xperia fans for many years – why does Sony, who has so much imaging prowess though their camera division, produce Xperia smartphones where the camera performance is sub-par versus the competition. Well, according to a TrustedReviews interview with Adam Marsh, Senior Manager of Global Marketing, the answer is likely one that we should have expected all along.

Mazda Engineer Explains Why There Won't Be A Mazdaspeed3

Mazda engineer explains why there won't be a Mazdaspeed3

When Mazda put the new, beautiful Mazda3 on its stand at last year's L.A. Auto Show, it didn't take long before someone asked about a Mazdaspeed3. It took even less time for the Japanese automaker's new global boss, Akira Marumoto, to cite his company's small size and say, "[My] answer would be no." During first drives of the compact hatch last month, Road & Track asked Mazda development vehicle engineer Dave Coleman what Mazda would need in order to resurrect an MPS version. Coleman detailed a few reasons for the Mazdaspeed's continued hiatus, the prohibitive cost foremost. But another hitch is that the Mazdaspeed we'd get now isn't the Mazdaspeed enthusiasts would want.

Coleman told the magazine, "If we had an engine on the shelf that would fit that properly, then we could talk." But the price to develop an engine and supporting hardware to do the car right isn't in the budget for an automaker of Mazda's size.