Mercedes-Benz and Renault are to co-operate on a new modular small car platform and two separate engine ranges that will form the basis of a new range of Smart models and a new line of Renault city cars.
The platform is a rear-engined, rear-drive chassis already under development by Mercedes. It will be used in the next Fortwo, due in 2013, and for a replacement for the Forfour that’s scheduled to arrive in 2014.
In lightly modified form - the wheelbase and track widths are variable - the platform will also be used by Renault for a new range of entry-level models, including the Twizy electric car and a four-door based on the Zoe concept.
It is unclear whether Renault-owned Nissan, Dacia and Samsung will have access to the new platform. Nissan has been considering a new entry-level model positioned beneath the Micra, possibly to be produced at its Sunderland plant in the UK. However, its future now looks uncertain.
Mercedes and Renault are also planning to share new engines. Initially Mercedes will provide Renault with three-cylinder petrol and diesels, both with stop-start systems.