Nissan Motor Co. is not necessarily tied to the idea of investing in General Motors Corp., said Nissan Cochairman Itaru Koeda, referring to ongoing talks on a possible three-way alliance between Nissan, General Motors and Renault S.A.
“A capital tieup is one option, but there are many cases that go well without shares being held,” Koeda said.
Meanwhile, sources said the same day that Nissan has decided to develop a car that won’t start unless the driver is sober as the nation seeks a crackdown on drunk driving.
On the likelihood of Nissan holding talks with Ford Motor Co. over a possible alliance, he said Japan’s second-largest automaker would not negotiate with other manufacturers for the time being, given that it is still in talks with GM.
There has been speculation that Ford is interested in teaming up with Nissan to help rehabilitate its business operations.
Koeda said Nissan, Renault and GM are examining whether an alliance would be mutually beneficial in about 10 operational areas, including joint parts procurement and consignment of production activities.
Nissan and Renault, led by Carlos Ghosn, who is president and chief executive officer of both automakers, and GM have formed teams to discuss each of the different operational areas.
Each team consists of one expert from each of the three automakers, and Koeda said that all team members are discussing their issues “seriously.”
Koeda said if there is a three-way alliance, it would not lead to an immediate increase in earnings.
“It would take at least three years to bear fruit even if we decide to carry out projects through an alliance with GM,” he said.
Koeda said Nissan has set Oct. 15 as the deadline for the 90-day negotiations.
If the three automakers decide to pursue an alliance at the end of the initial talks, they will move into the next phase, in which they will map out the details of their business strategy.
Nissan’s decision to tackle the drunken driving issue is in line with mounting public calls for stricter punishment for drunken driving in the wake of an accident on a bridge that killed three children, the sources said.
Japanese automakers have been focusing on maximizing the safety of drivers and passengers in collisions, but there have been almost no technological developments to prevent drunken driving. Such technology, however, is already available in the United States and some European countries.
The automaker adopted a policy to develop vehicles that have drunken-driving prevention devices earlier this month during a meeting of its research and development department, the sources said.
Among the options being studied, Nissan is considering fitting its vehicles with a Breathalyzer that the driver would have to blow into before starting the car, the sources said. If the driver’s breath has too much alcohol, the engine won’t start.
Nissan is also studying a device that requires drivers to enter long personal identification numbers to start the car, they said. People who are drunk may not be able to remember their PINs.
These devices already are available in the United States and some European countries, so installing them in cars here would be simple, one Nissan executive said.
Other Japanese automakers may follow suit, analysts say, as the public’s intolerance of drunken driving is growing.
There have been a number of accidents caused by intoxicated drivers that have received a lot of media coverage recently.
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