Renault CEO Luca de Meo arrived in Tokyo for talks over the weekend with Nissan boss Makoto Uchida aimed at breaking an impasse over intellectual property and potentially paving the way for a historic restructuring of the alliance. car manufacturers.
De Meo’s visit focused on two proposals aimed at securing Renault’s future but it was important to get Nissan’s consent, according to people close to both sides.
The alliance between Renault and Nissan, which was first founded in 1999, have partnered despite tensions. But as the global car industry shifts relentlessly to electric vehicles, the pressure on both automakers to make it work better is mounting.
The first proposal is the French group’s ambition to transfer part of its combustion engine business to China’s Geely, the people said. The plan is part of Renault’s long-term ambition to sell only electric vehicles, but with a history of sharing technology with Nissanconsent of the latter is required.
People familiar with the matter say Renault’s plan will most likely be to fold its combustion unit, known as “Horse,” into Geely’s Aurobay business, which the Chinese automaker co-operates with. owned with Volvo.
It’s a move that has been met with strong opposition from Nissan, which does not want technology it has co-developed with Renault for years to be shared with a Chinese company, the people added.
De Meo wants the Geely deal to be completed before the French automaker’s capital fair in early November.
The second proposal being discussed this weekend is a request from Renault that Nissan invest in a new “electric vehicle and software” unit that the French carmaker aims to eventually list as a company. separate company named “Ampere”.
While resolving the dispute over intellectual property rights is the main goal of the negotiations, Nissan will use it as an opportunity to call for a significant reduction of the 43% stake Renault holds in the company – which has since long been stressful.
Despite a history of opposition to such a change, Renault’s opposition has eased as it seeks to strengthen its cooperation with Nissan on operational projects, according to the two people.
Renault executives have argued that the alliance with Nissan will live or die because of their ability to advance joint production plans, opening the door in recent months to potential changes. capacity in the ownership structure, these people said.
“There have been discussions about all of this. The important thing now is to stick with what underlies the alliance, the structure itself is a bit irrelevant,” one person added.
As the two companies grapple with the alliance, their main rivals are forging closer ties. Stellantis, formed by the merger of Peugeot owner PSA and Italy’s Fiat-Chrysler, is now one of the world’s most valuable automakers, while Honda and General Motors are working closely on battery technology.
Renault, Nissan and Geely all declined to comment. The French state owns a 15% stake in Renault and there will be a change to any changes to the carmaker’s stake in Nissan. The French Economy Ministry declined to comment.