Nissan pushes Renault for Alliance shake up

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Renault-Nissan Alliance confirms discussions around future of partnership and EV strategies.

Bosses of Renault and Nissan are engaged in top-level talks over the future of the two companies’ partnership – reportedly sparked by an intellectual property dispute.

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According to the Financial Times, the talks aim to resolve a dispute over the formation of a joint venture between Renault and Geely’s combustion engine arm, Aurobay, requiring Nissan’s sign-off.

However, Nissan is reportedly resisting the notion of sharing technologies it helped to develop with the Chinese company – part-owned by Volvo – in a bid to protect its intellectual property.

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In an official statement sent to Autocar, Renault said the Alliance bosses will also discuss “structural improvements to ensure sustainable Alliance operations and governance”, reportedly relating to Renault’s 43% stake in the Japanese manufacturer.

Citing a source said to be familiar with the matter, Bloomberg reported that Nissan is prepared to invest $500 million to $750 million (AUD$794m-$1.19bn) in Renault’s electric vehicles division. This would be in exchange for the French brand’s agreement to a plan to gradually reduce its share to 15%. Talks are said to be ongoing.

Such a change in the Alliance’s control structure would be the most significant since Carlos Ghosn – its former chairman – was arrested in 2018 over charges relating to misuse of company assets.

The French manufacturer’s stake has been a source of tension since it rescued Nissan from financial turmoil in 1999, with the situation made more complex by the French state’s 15% ownership of Renault.

Any proposal concerning a buy-back of Nissan shares from Renault would need to be approved by the French government.

Nonetheless, greater investment from Nissan in Renault’s electric vehicle activities is still on the table, as confirmed by an official statement.

This would see the latter’s ‘Renaulution’ plans factor into the ‘Nissan Ambition 2030’ strategy. Both are centred on electrification, with ‘Renaulution’ promising the introduction of seven new EVs by 2030.

Renault already shares electric platforms and technologies with Nissan; the Renault Mégane E-Tech Electric shares its CMF-EV platform with the Nissan Ariya SUV, and so will the next-generation Renault Scenic coming in 2024.

Similarly, the electric replacement for the Nissan Micra will be based on the upcoming Renault 5 supermini’s CMF-BEV platform, beginning production in 2024.

Mitsubishi, added to the Alliance in 2016 when Nissan took a controlling stake in the struggling brand, is not reported to play a role in the current talks.

It recently confirmed that it was not currently considering a return to the UK because it would need “more than one electric car” to be competitive. In the meantime, Mitsubishi will introduce new versions of the ASX and Colt – effectively rebadged versions of the Renault Captur and Clio.

Renault and Nissan declined to offer further comment, referring back to their initial joint statement sent to Autocar confirming the talks.

Charlie Martin

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Further Reading

Renault 5 E-Tech leaked ahead of debut

Long-awaited all-electric reboot of the iconic Renault 5 will be fully unveiled on 26 February 2024.