Rick Wagoner, chairman and chief executive of General Motors, Wagoner and Carlos Ghosn, chief executive of both Renault and Nissan, met for over three hours in Paris yesterday (27 September), in what was billed by some press reports as a potentially explosive meeting.

Wagoner said that the meeting was “nice” and “very cordial”, adding that there were “candid talks”, according to Dow Jones.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the companies had reached consensus in seven other areas of alliance discussions but purchasing remains a sticking point.

GM was reported yesterday to want a multi-billion payment from Renault and Nissan for entering into an alliance, because of the greater value that GM would bring to any partnership.

According to the Detroit News, GM and Renault-Nissan are disagreeing about how to divide cost savings achieved in purchasing from an alliance.

Renault-Nissan would apparently benefit most from any cost savings achieved, because GM already has huge purchasing power from its size, and would only get marginal additional cost savings by adding Renault-Nissan volumes into the equation. GM therefore thinks that it should benefit from some of the potential Renault-Nissan savings.

Wagoner also suggested to Dow Jones that if talks with Renault and Nissan fail, GM may look for another partner. He said he would be interested in talking to anyone that could help reduce costs. Wagoner’s threat mirrors warnings from Ghosn yesterday that Renault-Nissan would seek an alliance with another North American automaker, if an alliance with GM fails to materialise. This can only mean Ford.

Separately Wagoner highlighted that GM’s US turnaround is on track and that steps are in place for costs to be cut by US$9bn over the next 12 months. He added that cost-cutting plans in Europe are on schedule.