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Nissan buys Renault’s electric vehicle business to repair alliance

Nissan will be given the option to purchase any shares Renault sells

As part of a new long-term deal meant to improve the relationship between the two major automakers, which has been rocky for the past 24 years, Nissan buys up to 15% of Renault’s electric vehicle division.

The 15-year deal calls for working together on electronics and battery technology and on projects in Europe, India, and Latin America that will save money by working together.

To create an equal alliance, the two firms had already announced an agreement for Renault to reduce its interest in Nissan from 43% to 15%. Nissan would then have the same stake in its French partner.

Since a deal was made with Renault in 1999 to save the Japanese automaker from bankruptcy, the mismatch has been a contention among Nissan management.

Renault CEO Luca de Meo told the Guardian, “I consider that what we have agreed is a much better setup than what we have had in the past few years. Now that we have a new governance structure that is considerably simpler, we can do business as usual. However, it involves restoring some strategic flexibility without severing existing links and synergies.”

Renault will transfer 28.4% of Nissan shares into a French trust that will eventually be sold down over time and has no voting rights concerning most alliance decisions. Nissan will be given the option to purchase any shares Renault sells.

Relationships have been tense for a long time between the two carmakers. In 2022, the Japanese automaker easily outsold its French partner, with 3.3 million global vehicle sales compared to 2.05 million for Renault.

After Carlos Ghosn, the former head of both companies was arrested in Japan in 2018 on suspicion of hiding income and pushing for a complete merger; the alliance was in danger of falling apart.

After Nissan acquired a sizable stake in its then-struggling Japanese rival, Mitsubishi Motors, which joined the alliance as a junior partner in 2016, it said it was also thinking about investing in Renault’s Ampere electric car arm, which is preparing for a prospective stock market float.

Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida said, “We see Ampere as a way for Nissan to take advantage of new business opportunities in Europe.”

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