Daimler – best know for its Mercedes-Benz brand – has announced a tie-up with Nissan and Renault.
The deal means Daimler will give Nissan and Renault a 3.1% share in its business, while it will take the same stake in the Renault-Nissan Alliance.
The three companies will remain independent, but the deal will allow them to share technology.
One of the first projects for the new venture will be a jointly developed architecture for the successor to Daimler's Smart Fortwo and the next-generation Renault Twingo.
The vehicles will remain distinct in terms of styling, but will share common technologies such as the rear-wheel-drive system found in current Smart vehicles. Both cars will be launched in 2013.
All three companies will also share engine technology, with the Renault-Nissan Alliance providing Mercedes with three- and four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines for its future line-up of premium compact cars.
Meanwhile, Daimler will provide petrol and diesel engines for Nissan's premium brand, Infiniti.
There will also be co-operation in the development of electric cars and light commercial vehicles.
Daimler's chairman, Dr Dieter Zetsche, said: 'We know that we can make brand-typical products based on shared architectures. The individual brand identities will remain unaffected.'
Carlos Ghosn, chairman and chief executive of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, said: 'The Renault-Nissan Alliance knows how to work successfully in collaborative partnerships.
'This agreement will create lasting value for the Renault-Nissan Alliance and Daimler as we work on broadening and strengthening our product offering.'
The Renault-Nissan Alliance was forged in 1999 and is based on sharing technology across brands in a similar way to the new deal with Daimler.
The big interview with Carlos Ghosn
Read whatcar.com's interview with the Renault-Nissan Alliance boss, Carlos Ghosn, where he talks about the advantages of such technology sharing, and hints at the electric future he is planning for the Alliance.
The big interview: Carlos Ghosn
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