Renault and Nissan step up race with Tesla to power electric cars

Renault and Nissan aim to be among the first automakers to sell 1m of electric vehicles using their common battery system, placing them alongside Tesla and Volkswagen as industry leaders.

Luca de Meo, chief executive of Renault, made the forecast this week at the FT Summit on the future of the automobile, adding that the partners were in talks to standardize the battery modules used in their electric cars.

It’s a sign that the often fractured alliance is finally healing under new leadership following the departure of former partnership boss Carlos Ghosn, who was arrested in 2018 for financial misconduct.

“If we can come up with a very synergistic approach on the battery, the alliance would probably be one of the first to cross the threshold of one million cars sold on the same battery module,” said De Meo.

Reducing complexity and costs is essential for automakers trying to lower the price of battery-powered cars, while also increasing the profit margins they make by selling them.

Renault and Nissan are currently sourcing batteries separately, but Nissan COO Ashwani Gupta has said the next generation of technology will be “a common battery” for the alliance, which also includes Mitsubishi.

“If we make a battery for 10m cars with the same chemistry, the same structure, the same supply, it will definitely go ahead,” he said at the virtual summit.

The alliance plan puts the groups within easy reach of VW, which plans to sell 1 million electric or hybrid cars this year, even though only half of them will be battery-only.

Tesla, which only sells electric cars, is ramping up production of its electric vehicles after nearly delivering 500,000 units last year.

Ford executives and Stellantis also cautioned against charging motorists off cars by switching too quickly to electric vehicles during the three-day FT event.

Ford European President Stuart Rowley said broader collaboration was needed with government, energy companies and charging groups to drive wider adoption of battery-powered cars, as well as the need to reduce the price so that current car buyers can afford the models.

“It needs to be led at the ministerial level, but it needs to involve local governments as well as national utility providers and industry players,” he said.

“If we don’t succeed, people will get hold of older vehicles, more polluting vehicles. We cannot leave people behind. “

There were also warnings of a compression of clean materials needed to make batteries, if automakers continued to advance their ambitions to decarbonize the fleet.

As automakers try to source materials in a carbon-free manner, McKinsey’s Tomas Nauclér told the FT event he expected a risk of a shortage of clean parts.

He expected shortages of materials such as lithium, cobalt and nickel or iron ore for steel in the second half of this decade, as new processes reduce emissions from mining or of processing means that the miners have difficulty pumping enough to meet the expected demand of the outbreak. Sales.

“We’re going to see a compression of green materials in the second half of this decade, most likely, and maybe even the next decade,” he said. “The next five years will be critical to whether we see enough supply arriving quickly enough.”

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