According to seven sources familiar with the matter, Nissan is developing growth plans independent of Renault, focusing on areas such as software and electric vehicles. The automaker is seeking a partner outside the auto industry to develop software that connects vehicles to cloud-based services. This would address a relative weakness for Nissan as it tries to make cars “smarter and more connected.” It is also working on an expanded strategy for all-battery and plug-in EVs for North American and Asian markets that will be for Nissan alone.
The alliance oversight board recently met to discuss a rebalance that will see Renault cut its stake in Nissan to 15% from 43%, and Nissan gain reciprocal voting rights. Nissan executives have long complained that Renault did not pay its fair share of costs for innovation and development, which led to an imbalance in the alliance. Nissan’s emerging strategy reflects a belief within the automaker that the 23-year-old alliance has run its course for many of the biggest challenges it faces.
While Nissan sees continued savings in shared parts procurement with Renault, it has no plan to provide engineering support to Renault’s new Ampere EV business or its e-Power hybrid technology to a gasoline powertrain-focused joint venture Renault has with China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co Ltd and Saudi Aramco Base Oil Co JSC.
Such go-it-alone thinking is shaping a longer-term plan that could be announced by year-end focusing on improved operational performance, electrification, and software allowing self-driving and other “connected car” features. Carlos Ghosn, who formerly headed both Renault and Nissan, pushed for deeper integration over the objections of some Nissan executives. However, Nissan’s stance marks a hard stop for this vision. In rebalancing talks, Nissan has pushed for protection of its technology to limit any downside from continued partnership, including its work on solid-state lithium-ion battery making and its e-Power electric hybrid powertrain.