European opposition to a three-way alliance of Renault and Nissan with General Motors was growing yesterday.
The proposed link-up, under which Carlos Ghosn's Renault-Nissan group would take a 20 per cent stake in the ailing Detroit giant, would threaten the future of GM's European manufacturer, Opel it was claimed.
Renault and Opel are "tough rivals" in western Europe and are fighting for the same customers in the same market segments, Klaus Franz, head of Opel's works council, said.
An alliance would have a negative impact on GM's international development activities at Rueselsheim in Germany, which is also Opel's base.
It would also result in increased transfers of carbuilding to eastern Europe, Mr Franz added.
Separately yesterday, French and German automotive unions were reported to be drawing up plans to oppose the plan, which could result in the creation of a global group responsible for more than a fifth of the world's annual output of cars.
The French government, which owns 15 per cent of Renault, which in turn controls more than 40 per cent of Nissan, has expressed its reservations, as has the powerful United Auto Workers union in the US.
Industry analysts also joined the argument, saying the scale of the task of turning GM around would distract management at the existing French-Japanese alliance.
"Renault runs the risk of having its management distracted by this possible alliance at a time when it needs to concentrate its resources on declining market share and a recently announced new strategic plan," said Emmanuel Bulle, a director at Fitch Ratings' industrial team.
Fitch noted: "Nissan has a lot to do to achieve its mid-term goals, including successful and continuous new model introductions, and research and development to prepare for keener competition, especially against its stronger Japanese rivals.
"The new partnership may hinder the company's efforts to achieve its management goals." It added that deeply rooted problems at GM would likely require prolonged attention, draining Nissan and Renault's already-stretched management resources.
Nissan and Renault's own seven-year alliance has only recently started to reap benefits beyond the joint procurement of parts, analysts say, and any synergies with GM would similarly take years to bear fruit.