YOKOHAMA, Japan -- Two companies are better than one when it comes to electric vehicles.
That's the message Carlos Ghosn, dual CEO of Renault SA and Nissan Motor Co., is sending about his plans to take a lead in battery-powered cars, starting with the Nissan Leaf.
“I don't think either Renault or Nissan would have been able to launch an EV alone successfully,” Ghosn said today after Nissan's annual shareholders' meeting.
The Leaf arrives in a few U.S. markets in December. Nissan plans to follow it with three more electric vehicles in coming years. Renault, meanwhile, will roll out four of its own electric vehicles, starting next year with an all-electric version of the Fluence.
Piggybacking the two programs is a key strategy in gaining scale, sharing development and cutting costs. Notably, the alliance partners will tap joint battery factories in North America, Europe and Japan -- with the aim of achieving output of 500,000 battery packs by 2013.
But Ghosn said the synergies don't end there. Nissan and Renault also benefit from:
• Shared electric vehicle platform components.
• Joint development of a quick-charging system.
• Combined lobbying for governments incentives.
• Coordinated programs for recycling batteries.
“You can have an electric car alone,” Ghosn said. “But what you cannot have is an EV business system, from batteries to recycling to cars to infrastructure to negotiation, by being alone.”
Ghosn declined to put a dollar value on synergies achieved through cooperation. But if two carmakers are stronger than one, three should be even better, he suggested.
In his sights is further electric car cooperation with Germany's Daimler AG, which entered a cross-shareholding deal with Nissan and Renault in April. Cooperation on electric vehicles wasn't part of the original agreement, but Ghosn is still angling for bigger scale.
“We're starting to discuss cooperating on motors, cooperating on batteries, on platforms,” Ghosn said. “So hopefully we're going to get three car manufacturers now working together.”