Nissan and Renault have made progress in their ongoing talks to reorganise their relationship, which dates back to 1999 when Renault bailed out Nissan. On Monday, a Nissan board committee evaluated Renault’s proposals and approved moving forward with negotiating conditions for the reconfigured alliance. Renault CEO Luca De Meo is scheduled to visit Japan later this month for talks with Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida, the second time the two leaders have met since talks began in October.
After three months of working-level conversations aimed at reforming the alliance, the Nissan board-level evaluation represents progress. On Monday, Uchida addressed Nissan’s independent directors on the status of the negotiations, including new Renault suggestions aimed at addressing the Japanese automaker’s worries over safeguards for its technology, especially hybrid systems. Nissan’s external directors met in committee and approved actions to try to establish an agreement between the two parties.
According to reports, the two businesses are discussing decreasing Renault’s stake in Nissan from 43 per cent to 15 per cent, which is comparable to Nissan’s stake in Renault. Renault’s proposed sale of a 28 per cent share in Nissan would be transferred to a trust. At the same time, Nissan is apparently considering investing in Ampere, a new electric car company that Renault hopes to build.
Nissan’s concern about the protection of intellectual property, notably EV-related technologies, that it sees as critical to its own future competitiveness has complicated the conversations. Renault apparently made solutions to resolve these concerns, which Uchida relayed to the Nissan board committee. The specifics of these suggestions have not been disclosed.
Renault’s restructuring has been approved by the French government, which owns 15% of the company. Renault is also finalising an agreement with China’s Geely Automobile Holdings, as well as bringing Saudi Arabian state oil company Aramco on board as an investor and partner in the development of gasoline engines and hybrid technology. Nissan is wary of technology developed while collaborating with Renault leaking to the Chinese automaker or others as Renault restructures.
It remains to be seen whether these conversations between Nissan and Renault will result in a final deal, but it appears that both parties are making progress toward a restructured alliance that satisfies their shared concerns. Overall, the two companies’ cooperation comes at a vital juncture in the auto industry’s transition to electric and driverless vehicles.