EXCLUSIVE-Nissan is looking for a technology partner outside of the alliance with Renault

EXCLUSIVE-Nissan is looking for a technology partner outside of the alliance with Renault

Posted on Apr 14, 2023, 11:56 AM

(updated with details)

and Norihiko Shirouzu and Maki Shiraki

April 14 (Reuters) – Nissan is creating independent growth plans in key areas such as software and electric vehicles as it works to finalize the terms of a limited partnership with Renault, seven people in management say.

Japan’s third-largest automaker by sales is looking for a technology partner for automotive cloud computing services that does not involve its historic partner France, two sources involved in the talks said. , not to mention potential candidates.

According to one of the sources, Nissan would correct one of its weaknesses in the field of “smarter and more connected” cars.

The Japanese group also plans to implement its electric vehicle strategy in the Asian and North American markets, the sources added.

This revelation comes as the final agreement on the restructuring of the Renault-Nissan alliance established more than twenty years earlier has not yet been signed. The goal was to close by the end of the first semester, but talks are ongoing and a signing is now expected by the summer, sources say.

The agreement presented in February in London provides for the equalization of the capital of the union, with each partner having equal capital and voting rights, at 15%. Nissan also plans to invest up to 15% also in Renault’s future electric utility “Ampère”.

This balancing and the emergence of independent strategies by each partner – Nissan, but also Renault, which has increased cooperation with other players over the past year, such as Google or Geely – reinforces the belief of some, within the Japanese group, that the alliance. it is at the end of its course and has had its day in the face of major challenges that await it.

The automotive industry is facing one of the biggest revolutions it has ever known, with a rapid shift from gasoline to electric engines and international diplomatic and logistical tensions that are undermining its globalized economic model.

While Nissan plans to continue to share parts purchases with its French partner, for example, it has no plans to bring engineering human resources to Ampère, two sources said. For another source, close to Renault, however, it is the contribution in the form of the team that is the real guarantee of involvement in Renault’s electric projects, more than a simple financial participation.

In a joint statement to Reuters, Nissan and Renault said they were still working out the final terms of their new partnership that would make both more competitive. “The new structure allows for a faster and simpler decision-making process,” added the two groups.

They also recalled that they decided to strengthen their cooperation in India and South America.


Nissan’s “one man” ideas could be implemented in a long-term strategic plan that could be announced by the end of the year, one of the sources said. The plan, intended to improve the group’s performance, would also focus on electrification and an autonomous and connected driving program.

“Even if Renault gets something from Nissan, going the other way has tangible benefits,” said a second person familiar with Nissan’s position. “The restrictions from Renault are gone, we can move forward freely.”

Renault and Nissan added in their statement that Nissan’s investment in Ampère will strengthen the Japanese group in Europe and “accelerate new activities”, without elaborating.

One of the sources noted that Nissan will invest in the organization, and will bring technology to it, but its operational involvement will remain limited. If Ampère developed technologies that interested it in Europe, Nissan would look at them, but with the intention of buying them separately, he added.

Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi will have no less than 80% of their cars based on the joint platforms of the alliance in 2026, but the question remains unanswered about the studied projects that will be implemented beyond this scope. Whether it is exploring new areas or pursuing existing areas of collaboration.

According to the sources, Nissan is very careful to protect the future use of technologies developed in solid-state batteries, which it is testing on behalf of the consortium, as well as its development on the driving equipment.

And although the Japanese group today largely uses electrical and electronic architecture developed by Renault for the alliance, we do not know what use will be made of the future architecture defined in terms of software (full software defined vehicles) that its French partner is working with Google. .

The sense of freedom found within Nissan marks the end of dreams of increased cooperation cherished since the time of Carlos Ghosn, the former CEO of Renault and Nissan until his arrest in Japan and his flight to Lebanon. His disgrace followed accusations of financial irregularities, but the historic architect of the merger said he was the victim of a conspiracy within Nissan to block the merger.

In the Japanese group, some were not even satisfied with the rebalancing announced at the beginning of 2023 and still asked for a long time. Several sources have said that the ideal outcome would be a “zero percent-zero percent” rebalancing, while admitting that at this stage this goal would be unattainable. (Reporting by Norihiko Shirouzu and Maki Shiraki, with contributions by Gilles Guillaume in Paris and Daniel Leussink in Tokyo; French version by Kate Entringer, editing by Blandine Hénault)