Auto allies putting $26B into e-vehicles – Arkansas Online
TOKYO — The French-Japanese auto alliance of Renault and Nissan plans to invest $26 billion in electric vehicle technology over the next five years, the companies said Thursday.
The alliance, which also includes smaller Japanese automaker Mitsubishi Motors Corp., plans to share research, auto parts and technology to bring down costs and produce 35 new electric vehicle models by 2030, aiming at markets around the world.
The vehicles will use one of five common platforms, the main parts on which vehicles are built.
Nissan Motor Co. will lead in developing a solid-state battery for the electric vehicles, while Renault will lead in developing electronics and software to connect millions of vehicles and provide digital services and features.
“Today we are lifting the hoods of the alliance together,” Jean-Dominique Senard, the alliance’s chairman, said in an online presentation.
“These are massive investments that none of the three companies could make alone,” he said. He told reporters and analysts the plan makes ties between the companies “totally unbreakable.”
But the model isn’t without risks. If Renault were to fumble on software, for example, all three companies would suffer. Moreover, the trio still has to compete for key components including semiconductors.
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Automakers around the world are trying to save costs and forge alliances. Recent covid-related supply problems that are crimping production and growing concerns about climate change have made such coordination more urgent than ever.
Tesla has emerged as a powerful and extremely profitable competitor. Other newcomers are entering the market. Sony Corp., which makes the PlayStation video game machine, recently showed a prototype of an electric car. Japan’s top automaker Toyota Motor Corp. also has announced an aggressive electric vehicle plan.
Sharing components, production facilities and research will benefit the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, said Nissan Chief Executive Officer Makoto Uchida.
“More than anything, we also benefit from the shared experience and expertise of our people,” said Uchida.
Renault owns 43.4% of Nissan, while Nissan owns 15% of Renault. Nissan, based in the port city of Yokohama, owns 34% of Tokyo-based Mitsubishi. The French government owns 15% of Renault.
The alliance is the brainchild of Carlos Ghosn, sent in by Renault in 1999 to turn around a near-bankrupt Nissan. Ghosn made it one of the most successful auto groups in the world. But he was arrested in Japan in 2018 on financial misconduct charges.
He jumped bail and fled to Lebanon in late 2019. Lebanon has no extradition treaty with Japan. Ghosn says he is innocent.
Ghosn’s arrest and related developments strained the alliance, and Senard referred to a crisis, without going into details.
He blamed a “lack of trust,” which he said was getting fixed.
“This period belongs to the past,” Senard said.
A lot has changed since Renault and Nissan formed their alliance in 1999. Electric vehicles at that time were a far-off prospect, Elon Musk co-founded an online payments firm called X.com and China ranked 14th in the world when it came to producing passenger cars, behind the likes of Belgium and Mexico.
Since then, Musk has turned Tesla into the world’s most valuable automaker and made inroads in Europe, where the Model 3 overtook the Renault Zoe as the best-selling electric vehicle last year. Volkswagen and Toyota have laid out plans to splurge a combined $170 billion over the coming years to preserve their claim on an industry …….