Analysts suggest that the two firms may now approach Ford about joining their existing agreement.
GM and Ford are both struggling in their home market, while Nissan and Renault want to expand in the US.
The discussions foundered on disagreements over the likely amount of savings from a deal and GM's insistence the two other firms compensate it for joining their alliance.
Such a demand was ‘contrary to the spirit of any successful alliance’, said Nissan and Renault - which hold stakes in each other and co-operate in areas such as purchasing and marketing.
GM justified its demand for payment on the grounds that it would have benefited less from the merger than the two other firms.
Attention has now turned to the possibility of a tie-up between Nissan, Renault and Ford. Reports earlier this summer suggested that Ford chairman Bill Ford had approached Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn about potential co-operation although neither parties commented on this.
Without mentioning Ford, Nissan said on Thursday that it would still be willing to consider an agreement with a US firm.
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