Expanding the scope of their current co-operative agreement, Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn and Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche confirmed that the two automakers are teaming up on a pair of new projects intended to accelerate development of fuel-efficient powertrains, specifically an advanced 4-cylinder engine family and an equally state-of-the-art automatic transmission.

The new 4-cylinder engines will feature turbocharging and direct fuel injection systems, be compact in size for superior packaging and specifically oriented towards delivering exceptional fuel economy with low emissions. They are expected to be introduced in various production models from both automakers starting in 2016. On the cog-changing front, the new automatic transmission project will be led by Daimler with the technology subsequently licensed to Nissan for use in Nissan and Infiniti vehicles starting in 2016. No word yet on gear counts, but they'll be manufactured in Mexico at a facility owned by Nissan subsidiary Jatco and incorporate both start-stop and shift-by-wire and park-by-wire technologies.

"These new components demonstrate how broadly and rapidly our collaboration is proliferating - while all the time remaining rooted in specific projects that give tangible benefits to our customers," Ghosn said in a prepared statement. "The relationship is expanding organically and logically."

Zetsche echoed that optimism, noting: "The collaboration achieved a milestone this year, with the first vehicles and engines from the partnership now on the roads. Furthermore, all our engineers are keeping an open mind, looking with fresh eyes at all potential new areas of collaboration."

The two top execs also confirmed that all of the original "pillar projects" announced in 2010 have either been accomplished or are proceeding to plan. They also are moving forward with other types of advanced research on fuel-cell vehicle powertrains as well as on a cross-supply program for battery and powertrain components to be used in zero-emission versions of their small cars.

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