articles from International Herard-Tribune and Bloomberg
AIX-EN-PROVENCE, France: A slump in the global automotive sector could give impetus to plans for consolidation within the industry, according to the head of the French carmaker Renault.
"Something will have to happen," Renault's chief executive, Carlos Ghosn, told delegates at a business conference in this southern French city Saturday.
Ghosn said the problems of the U.S. sector could spur deals.
"What is happening in the states at the moment does not bode well for the future," he said.
The United States, the world's largest automobile market, is reeling from record gasoline prices, tighter credit conditions and a slump in housing.
General Motors kept its No. 1 spot in the United States in June, but some analysts have raised concerns over the financial state of the company, whose shares fell to a 54-year low this month.
Ghosn has consistently said that Renault and its Japanese partner, Nissan, could revisit plans drawn up two years ago to expand their alliance to a third party, although he has also said that Renault was in no rush to do so.
The investor Kirk Kerkorian suggested a three-way union involving Renault, Nissan and General Motors two years ago.
Analysts have speculated that Nissan could expand its ties with Chrysler after they signed a deal this month to supply each other with vehicles.
At the business conference in France, Ghosn also highlighted the cost pressures facing car manufacturers.
He said he had recently discussed the issue of rising steel prices with the European Central Bank and reiterated his support for a weaker euro compared with the dollar.
The weakness of the dollar has hurt European companies' overseas sales because its makes their cars' prices less competitive.
"As a car manufacturer, I want the lowest possible price for the euro," Ghosn said.
Renault shares closed down 0.3 percent at €52.23, or about $82, on Friday. The stock has fallen around 46 percent since the start of 2008.
Renault owns a controlling 44 percent stake in Nissan, while Nissan has a 15 percent stake in Renault.