The Renault-Nissan alliance has today announced plans to launch a new joint venture with carmaker Dongfeng to make and sell electric cars in China, the biggest EV market in the world.
China’s Dongfeng will own 50 per cent of the new venture, eGT New Energy Automotive Co, with Renault-Nissan taking the other 50 per cent. It will start producing a new EV – complete with “intelligent interconnectivity” – from 2019, with the aim of rolling out 120,000 vehicles a year.
“This project is the result of a joint effort to develop electric vehicles for the Chinese market, by the ‘Golden Triangle’ formed by Dongfeng, Renault and Nissan, with an innovative business model,” said Zhu Yanfeng, chairman of Dongfeng, in a statement. “We expect to meet the transformation trend of the market in China; where cars are becoming light, electric, intelligent, interconnected and shared.”
China is already the largest market for battery electric vehicles, with sales jumping 121 per cent in 2016 to hit more than 250,000. Sales in 2017 to date are up another third on 2016 levels, according to data from the China Association of automobile manufacturers.
The enthusiasm for low-emission cars in China has sparked a frenzy of interest from foreign carmakers eager to stake their claim on the growing market. In April German carmaker Volkswagen unveiled four new affordable EV models, all of which are being developed and launched in China, which CEO Matthias Müller described as “fast, vigorous, innovative and the global lead market for e-mobility”.
Notably, the new EV developed by EGT New Energy Automotive will use a sport utility vehicle platform developed by the Renault-Nissan alliance. With foreign carmakers wary of sharing technology with Chinese firms, it’s the latest sign major carmakers are forging closer ties with local operators to drive down manufacturing costs and better appeal to the Chinese market.
“The establishment of the new joint venture with Dongfeng confirms our common commitment to develop competitive electric vehicles for the Chinese market,” Carlos Ghosn, chairman and chief executive officer of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, said in a statement. “We are confident to meet the expectations of the Chinese customers and to strengthen our global electric vehicle leadership position.”
It follows an announcement from Ford last week that it will explore a new partnership with Anhui Zotye Automobile Co to launch a fleet of new EV vehicles in China. The line-up would be sold under a new brand jointly owned by Ford and Anhui Zotye and “would aim to capture a sizeable share of China’s all-electric passenger vehicle market”, Ford said.