Nissan Motor’s talks with French carmaker Renault are centred around making the most of their investment in electric vehicles and bolstering their competitiveness as equal partners, the Japanese automaker’s CEO said on Friday.
The automakers said last month they were in discussions on the future of an alliance founded in 1999 when Renault took a stake in Nissan and helped drive a turnaround for the Japanese company under former executive-turned fugitive Carlos Ghosn.
Less than two weeks remain for them to meet a November 15 target they had set to reach a deal.
Nissan chief executive Makoto Uchida declined to comment on whether an agreement could be reached this month. But he said he was talking with Renault chief executive Luca de Meo every weekend and the talks would be “ongoing for the future.”
Biggest Transformation in a Century
Uchida said on Friday that the talks are aimed at improving the automakers’ ability to compete at a time of economic uncertainty and as the industry pushes toward what he described as its biggest transformation in a century with the shift to electric vehicles.
“The discussion we are having is about how to make our competitiveness even stronger,” Uchida said. “That’s number one.”
Nissan is also considering investing in Renault’s planned electric vehicle unit, the companies said.
People with knowledge of the talks have said the two sides have also been discussing a reduction in Renault’s 43% stake in Nissan, potentially to 15% and the terms under which that could happen.
“We want it to be an equal partnership,” Uchida said, adding that an “equal partnership would make sense and that would speed up the collaboration even more.”
Renault, also Nissan’s top shareholder, is playing catch-up in the shift to electric vehicles led by US rival Tesla.
On a separate track from its discussions with Nissan, Renault has also been talking to Geely Automobile Holdings about the Chinese automaker taking a stake in its internal combustion-engine unit, people familiar with those talks have said.
Uchida said Nissan understood the transformation Renault was undertaking with the carving out of its gasoline-car business and that “fair treatment” for Nissan as part of a new partnership was an area of discussion.
“If they have their new partner, A or B or C, what does that mean? We are openly discussing that,” he said. “Transparency is very important.”
- Reuters, with additional editing from Vishakha Saxena