The Renault-Nissan alliance increased its bets on China’s electric-vehicle (EV) market, the world’s biggest, by forming a new venture to design battery-powered automobiles that meet the nation’s tighter emissions rules.
Renault SA and Nissan Motor Co are to each hold 25 percent of eGT New Energy Automotive Co, while Dongfeng Motor Group Co (東風汽車) holds the rest, the automobile alliance said in a statement yesterday, without providing investment details.
The partners are to design a new electric vehicle based on a small sport utility vehicle platform developed by the alliance, to be produced by Dongfeng, it said.
The Chinese company currently makes Kadjar SUVs with Renault and Teana sedans with Nissan in the country.
Automakers are accelerating their investments into electric vehicles to meet stricter emission and fuel-economy rules set to take effect in major markets. China is implementing a cap-and-trade framework next year that will penalize carmakers that do not meet fleet-based limits through fines or purchase of credits.
Dongfeng acquired a 14 percent stake in Peugeot SA in 2014 and makes Aircross SUVs and Picasso sedans under the Citroen nameplate. It also partners with Honda Motor Co and Kia Motors Corp to make Civic and KX Cross cars in China respectively.
Last week, Ford Motor Co said it would explore setting up a venture with Anhui Zotye Automobile Co (安徽眾泰汽車) to produce electric-vehicles. In May, Volkswagen AG received approval for a new venture with Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Group (安徽江淮汽車) to produce electric cars. Daimler AG and BMW also have electric car brands under their partnerships with BYD Co (比亞迪) and Brilliance China Automotive Holdings Ltd (華晨中國汽車).
Nissan is to start selling an electric car based on Renault’s Kwid model in China in 2019, with a price of about US$8,000, Renault-Nissan alliance chairman Carlos Ghosn said in interviews earlier this year.
The Japanese carmaker has struggled to sell the Leaf electric car, sold as the Venucia e30, in the country since 2014 mainly because its price was too high compared with most locally made electric vehicles.
It this month sold its battery subsidiary Automotive Energy Supply Corp to Chinese private equity firm GSR Capital (金沙江資本) for about US$1 billion.
The three-way alliance of Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors is the world’s leading electric carmaker for the mass-market segment, with cumulative sales of models including Leaf, Renault’s Zoe and Mitsubishi’s i-Miev topping 481,000 units as of the end of June.
China scooped the six top slots in a global index of electric-vehicle manufacturers in a sign its strategy to develop the sector may be making headway. BYD, Jiangling Motors Corp (江鈴汽車) and BAIC Motor Corp (北京汽車) led a group whose scores were between double and more than eight times as high as scores for European and Japanese automakers. US carmakers did not make the top 10.
The Chinese government plans to increase the annual output of new-energy vehicles — its term for battery-electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids and fuel cell vehicles — to 2 million units by 2020. Such automobiles are expected to make up more than one-fifth of total sales by 2025, according to the latest auto industry plan released by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
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