Infiniti is fast-tracking new small diesel engines in the wake of the Daimler-Renault-Nissan partnership signed today in Brussels.
Nissan's upmarket division will take supply of Merc's smaller four-cylinder turbodiesels - at a stroke thrusting it into the heartland of the executive sector. At present, it struggles to compete with its 3.7-litre V6 petrol only range of G saloons and coupes, and large-engined SUV crossovers.
How quickly will the diesel Infinitis come?
Sooner than you might think. Negotiations behind the deal struck today started a year ago and Andy Palmer, global product chief at Nissan and Infiniti, told CAR an engine programme would typically take two years. That points to new 2.1-litre TDs in Infinitis by 2012.
The news also sounds the death knell for the Renault-Nissan 3.0-litre V6 TD, which will be available in European Infintis later this year. That engine will struggle to meet EU6 and Nissan/Infiniti is already probing a Merc substitute. In total, Infiniti is looking at three new engines sourced from Daimler, said Palmer.
'It won't necessarily be one-way traffic,' he said. 'We are about to launch a very good hybrid version of the M and Daimler are very interested in that.'
Today's strategic cooperation between the two groups means that both parties can put forward joint project ideas, but they must each be approved by all 12 members of the cooperation committee.
So can we expect mirror image ranges of Mercs, Renaults and Nissans?
Not at all. Palmer points to the distinct Renault and Nissan ranges for an example of how separate companies can work together yet retain their individual characters.
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