Nissan Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. are considering investing in alliance partner Renault SA's new electric vehicle company Ampere, the French automaker said Tuesday, as Nissan and Renault try to revise their decades-old capital tie-up.
Renault unveiled the EV business spinoff as part of its group strategy update. The automaker said it will become the new company's majority owner and is considering listing it in Europe in the second half of 2023.
Ampere, which will be based in France and employ about 10,000 people, will also develop software for cars on top of manufacturing and selling full EV passenger vehicles.
The EV venture will also partner with Google LLC to boost digitization of cars while Qualcomm Technologies Inc. is planning to offer investment and technological know-how, Renault said.
"Carmakers need more cash than usual to keep up with the pace of the ongoing technological shifts," CEO Luca de Meo said in a briefing to investors in Paris that was livestreamed. "We wanted to work with the best, and the best wanted to work with us."
Nissan confirmed that it is considering investing in the new company after Renault's announcement, while Mitsubishi Motors said, "We are carefully weighing potential merits of the investment for our company."
The French automaker also said it will merge its gasoline engine and hybrid vehicle business with China's auto giant Geely through a joint venture to be set up, with each owning 50 percent. Nissan is not joining the new venture at this point.
Nissan's interest in the EV venture comes as it discusses with Renault a plan for the French automaker to reduce its stake in the Japanese company from 43 percent to 15 percent in a move to allow Nissan more autonomy.
Nissan, which also holds a 15 percent stake in Renault without voting rights due to French regulations, has sought to reduce its smaller partner's influence, calling the structure, which has lasted for more than 20 years, "unequal."
Tuesday's development highlighted the distance the two alliance partners have yet to close as Renault's Ampere announcement came amid reports that Nissan would take an up to 15 percent stake in the new EV venture.
Nissan has raised concerns over the use of its patent regarding EV technologies in the talks with Renault, people familiar with the matter have said.
"The alliance will bring scale to Ampere," Chief Financial Officer Thierry Pieton said, without commenting on the details of the discussion about Nissan and Mitsubishi's potential involvement.
Nissan agreed with Mitsubishi Motors in 2019 to join forces under a new company controlled by major trading company Mitsubishi Corp. to escape Renault's influence, but the plan was put on hold following the resignation of Nissan's president at the time, sources familiar with the matter have said.
Renault became the top shareholder of Nissan in 1999 when the Japanese firm was on the verge of bankruptcy, sending Carlos Ghosn to lead the overhaul.
Mitsubishi joined the alliance after Nissan acquired a 34 percent stake in it in 2016.