It's not just the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance at risk. For the past nine-years, Ghosn has carefully sculpted a separate partnership with Daimler AG, the parent of the Smart and Mercedes-Benz brands.
Though there are none of the financial cross-holdings found in the alliance, the partners are today working together on a variety of projects. Engines made by Nissan in Smyrna, TN, for example, are being used in Mercedes vehicles assembled in Alabama. Mercedes and Nissan's Infiniti brand share a Mexican assembly plant. And a platform developed by Daimler underpins the Smart fortwo and Renault Twizzy.
At least initially, the partnership with Daimler was nurtured by Ghosn and his German counterpart, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche, who said at a news conference during the Paris Motor Show last month, "Without the chemistry between us, maybe this wouldn't have happened."
There have been questions about whether it would survive Zetsche's scheduled move to relinquish the CEO post next year, moving into the post of Daimler chairman. Last month, he told reporters at a joint news conference with Ghosn, "I don't see from my perspective why the momentum in this relationship should change." But with the Nissan boss enveloped in scandal and the future of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance itself uncertain, all bets are now off.
It is, of course, possible that Ghosn could survive the scandal, the allegations against him proving false. But whether he could rebuild his reputation is another matter entirely. He seemed to anticipate the risk, early in the new millennium, when he discussed the Japanese comic book he starred in.
"If you have not been a villain at a certain point in time, you will never be a hero. And the day you are a hero, you may become a villain the next day," he said.
Few in the auto industry have fallen as far, as hard and as fast as Ghosn. It may be impossible for him to find a way to become a hero again.