The Renault-Nissan Alliance has started the merger of four key operational areas the goal of achieving at least EUR4.3bn (US$5.9bn) in "annualised synergies" a year by 2016.

The alliance initially launched convergence study projects in late January in the areas of engineering, manufacturing and supply chain management, purchasing, and human resources.

Under the plan, these functions will be jointly managed by Renault and Nissan, with a newly appointed alliance executive vice president leading each function, and a new management committee to oversee implementation.

Renault-Nissan chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn said the merging of these business functions would result in an "immediate increase in efficiency and leverage our size to achieve competitive economies of scale".

The two carmakers will combine common module family engineering, advanced research, powertrain development - including electric vehicles - systems engineering and testing facilities and services under alliance director Tsuyoshi Yamaguchi.

Manufacturing engineering and supply chain management will be headed by Shohei Kimura, currently Nissan corporate vice president for vehicle production engineering. Christian Vandenhende, managing director of the Renault-Nissan purchasing organisation, will lead the new purchasing function.

Renault HR chief Marie-Francoise Damesin will be the alliance directior of human resources. The establishment of the new functions will be overseen by a new management committee headed by Ghosn.

Convergence in the business functions is the latest step in the 15-year evolution of the alliance which was formed in March 1999. Since then it has expanded to include partnerships and joint ventures with Daimler, Mitsubishi, AvtoVAZ, Ashok Leyland and Dongfeng.