Mercedes won't join Renault's new electric van project-sources

The logo of Mercedes-Benz is seen outside a Mercedes-Benz car dealer in Brussels, Belgium June 1, 2023. REUTERS/Yves Herman

PARIS (Reuters) - Mercedes Benz Group, a longtime partner of Renault in vans, won't take part in the French company's FlexEvan electric project and will focus instead on its own premium electric vehicle VAN.EA, two sources with knowledge of the matter said.

FlexEvan, scheduled to launch in 2026, is being developed for the Renault and Nissan marques and sources say it could also be joined by Renault Trucks, a brand owned by Sweden's Volvo.

A spokeswoman of Mercedes confirmed that the group had no plan to launch a mid-sized van or a large one on a different platform than VAN.EA. Renault declined to comment.

Following the collapse of demand for the diesel engines Renault had been selling to its German partner, and the end of a joint project on Twingo-Smart cars, Renault and Mercedes only have one common project together - the small Citan van, whose first electric version is being launched. Renault has long sought to expand its cooperation in vans with Mercedes, but in vain. "It is true that for light commercial vehicles, the bulk (of the cooperation with Mercedes) has been done", one of the sources said. Under CEO Luca de Meo, Renault has been multiplying partnerships outside the scope of its historic alliances with Nissan and Daimler, both championed by his predecessor Carlos Ghosn. No concrete project between Renault and Mercedes is actively being studied, a third source said, adding that new incentive programs such as the U.S Inflation Reduction Act and similar European measures, could however lead to the two cooperating on the sharing of manufacturing facilities.

(Reporting by Gilles Guilaume; Editing by Silvia Aloisi and David Holmes)

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