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Electric Vehicles: Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi’s 6-Year Push to Electric and Autonomous Vehicles

In a push to develop a total of 12 pure electric vehicles (EVs) across three brands by 2022, Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi have strengthened their ties through a 6-year plan called Alliance 2022. Economy of scale dictates that the more carmakers can share research and development, platforms and parts, the less costly the development of new vehicles will be for each individual company. Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn, who’s also chairman and CEO of the Alliance, recently announced the plan in Paris, citing ever-stricter emissions rules as a key motivator for the joint venture. “We intend to deliver on growing synergies, with the three autonomous companies cooperating with the efficiency of one,” he offered in prepared remarks.

Consisting of Renault and Nissan since 1999, Alliance 2022 now brings Mitsubishi into the fold.

Odd Fellows

So why this apparently odd mix of two Japanese carmakers joining with a French one? As the old saying goes: Follow the money. Created in 1999, the Renault-Nissan Alliance is a cross-shareholding arrangement, giving Renault a 43.4 percent stake in Nissan and Nissan a 15 percent stake in Renault. Allowing the two companies to share some assets, the Alliance also provides incentive for both carmakers to help the other succeed. Owning a larger share of Nissan, Renault has control of the Alliance.

Last year, Nissan acquired 34 percent of Mitsubishi, which was enough to give it control of the struggling brand. It makes sense to include Mitsubishi in Alliance 2022.

Today

Would it surprise you to learn that, to date, the Renault-Nissan partnership has sold the most electric vehicles worldwide? Forget Tesla; the just-redesigned Nissan Leaf is the top-selling EV in the U.S. Mechanically similar to the Leaf, the Renault Zoe is the best-selling EV in the European Union. Continuing to signal Nissan’s seriousness about not only EVs but self-driving cars as well, the redesigned Leaf offers Nissan’s ProPilot driver-assist feature.

Oh, and the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance outsold every other carmaker worldwide for the first 6 months of 2017. It sold more than Volkswagen, Toyota or General Motors.

Tomorrow

Targeting a number of goals, Alliance 2022 sets the stage for huge leaps forward for all three carmakers. Within the Alliance, they’ll launch 12 fully electric vehicles sharing common platforms and components. Models with shared powertrains will increase from the current 30 percent of the three carmakers’ total product lineups to 75 percent. Forty vehicles will be launched with self-driving technology. And, finally, the Alliance will become an operator of a robo- (self-driving) vehicle ride-hailing service.

What It Means

A huge commitment, Alliance 2022 clearly indicates the future of Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi is tied to electric vehicles, self-driving technology and ride-sharing. And they aren’t alone.

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