Nissan alliance to invest €23bn in electric vehicles over 5 years

Nissan Chief Executive Makoto Uchida speaks during a press conference in the automaker's headquarters in Yokohama, near Tokyo on Dec. 2, 2019.
Nissan Chief Executive Makoto Uchida speaks during a press conference in the automaker's headquarters in Yokohama, near Tokyo on Dec. 2, 2019.   -   Copyright  Eugene Hoshiko / AP
By Euronews  with AFP, AP

The French-Japanese auto alliance of Renault and Nissan have announced they plan to invest €23 billion in electric vehicle technology over the next five years, marking the latest massive cash injection into the fast-growing sector by the auto industry.

The alliance, which also includes smaller Japanese automaker Mitsubishi Motors Corp, will 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.

Nissan Motor Co will lead in developing a next-generation battery for electric vehicles, while Renault will lead in developing electronics and software to connect millions of vehicles and provide digital services and features.

"We have aligned roadmaps on EV battery technologies, leading amongst others to the selection of a common battery supplier for Renault and Nissan in France, UK, and Japan. We have defined a common vision on electric and electronic architecture," said Jean-Dominique Senard, the alliance's chairman.

Major global carmakers are increasingly prioritising electric and hybrid vehicles as concerns about climate change grow. At present, around 10% of European car sales are EVs, but the US figure is just 2%.

The alliance vowed to boost cooperation by using five common manufacturing platforms for most models — adding a new platform in 2024 to the existing four — as it ploughs €23 billion into its EV strategy.

Some of the headline figures had already been announced by each company, but it marks the first concrete target set collectively by the trio since the reorganisation of top executives at Japan's Nissan and France's Renault.

That restructuring was triggered by the saga surrounding the 2018 arrest of former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn, which exposed rifts in the alliance.

"Three years ago, the alliance was experiencing a crisis unprecedented in its history based on a lack of trust," Senard told reporters.

But "this period belongs to the past" and the partnership is "stronger than ever" due to solid foundations and flexible cooperation, he added.

"Together, we are making the difference for a new and global sustainable future," Senard went on.

To achieve its goals, the alliance said it aimed to increase cooperation on common platforms from 60% to 80% of its models by 2026.

The trio also announced a target of reaching a total EV battery production capacity of 220 gigawatt hours by the end of the decade, with Nissan tasked with leading the development of solid-state battery technology.

As demand grows for less polluting vehicles and pressure grows to reduce the auto industry's role in climate change, major automakers are announcing targets to gradually phase out fossil fuel-powered vehicles.

In December, the world's top-selling carmaker Toyota also unveiled a more ambitious plan for its electric vehicle business, hiking its EV sales goal by 75%.

German auto giant Volkswagen has also said it will bulk up its investment in electric vehicles and digitalisation to €89 billion over the next five years.

And Japanese electronics giant Sony recently announced it will find a company this year to explore jumping into the rapidly growing EV market.