Samsung sells cell phones, audio systems and a host of other home electronics. The Korean manufacturer also wants to sell you a car with its name on it, but only if you’re in South Korea. Thanks to a budding relationship with Renault and its Japanese partner, Nissan, Samsung now has a line of vehicles to sell, offering Korean car shoppers an option to Hyundai, Kia and GM Daewoo.
We’re not likely to see Samsung vehicles in the United States anytime soon, but that possibility should not be completely ruled out. Samsung’s vehicles are based on Nissan technology and would, therefore, be in direct competition with the Japanese automaker. However, Samsung’s product line is different enough from Nissan to allow it to market a line of models that is distinctive and cost effective.
For example, Autoblog reports that the Samsung S7 — a large sedan — is based on the Nissan Maxima and is powered by a 2.5- or a 3.5-liter V-6 paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Larger in size than the Maxima, the S7 offers seating with five and an opulent interior featuring aviation-style headrests for the front seat passengers. This upscale model competes with the Hyundai Azera and Kia Cadenza for Korean car shoppers.
The Samsung S7 is not the only model offered by the Korean automaker. Renault has also supplied a host of other Nissan based models including hatchbacks, crossovers and sedans. Indeed, the company traces its history to 1994, with Renault buying a 70 percent stake in the company in 2000. Renault and Nissan each own a significant slice of each other, thus the Nissan connection with Samsung.
Not every Samsung model is based upon a Nissan product, with a handful of current or upcoming vehicles derived from Renault models. The Samsung QM5 is based on the Nissan X-Trail crossover and the SM3, a midsize sedan, is derived from the Renault Fluence. The Renault Scenic, a compact MPV, will give birth to the Samsung FM5, a model that will go into production by 2012 or 2013.
Samsung most likely won’t offer from the ground up unique models of its own, given the high start up costs associated with launching a new product line. Indeed, the Samsung S7 cost $300 million and 32 months to make, but that amount is far less than the $1 billion or more it usually takes to bring an all-new vehicle from the drawing board to the production line. Sharing technologies already developed by Renault and Nissan saves money, allowing all three manufacturers to share costs and hold down expenditures.