December 16, 2018

Renault-Nissan Starts Up Billion-Dollar Venture Fund for Car Technology

12 January 2018, 07:45 | Cameron Gross

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi wants to spend up to $1 billion on start-ups over next 5 years

Carlos Ghosn chairman of the Renault Nissan and Mitsubishi alliance. Renault and Nissan will each fund 40% of Alliance Ventures—which will be co-located in Silicon Valley Paris Beijing and Yokohama Japan—while Mitsubishi will contribute the rest

With further annual investments, Alliance Ventures is set to become the largest corporate venture capital fund in the automotive industry over the period of Alliance 2022, the strategic midterm plan launched a year ago by Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi.

Carlos Ghosn, chairman and CEO of Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, says, "Our open innovation approach will allow us to invest and collaborate with start-up companies and technology entrepreneurs, who will benefit from the global scale of the alliance".

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi said it sold more than 10 million vehicles in 2017 and forecasts combined revenues of $240bn by the end of 2022.

The venture fund is offering start-ups the chance to combine new technologies with the global scale and research and development departments of the alliance members, which has reached more than €8.5bn in studies and projects.

Ionic is developing materials for an entirely solid-state battery free of cobalt, the price of which is soaring. The Alliance Ventures team will also draw on the expertise and business opportunities identified by a cross-functional team of experts from Renault, Nissan, and Mitsubishi.

The first offices for the new fund will be in Silicon Valley, Paris, Yokohama and Beijing - which align with the member companies that are committing capital to the alliance.

The Massachusetts-based startup is a developer of solid polymer electrolyte that offers improved performance and cost effectiveness of high-energy density batteries for automotive and other applications.

Carlos Ghosn, Chairman, and CEO of the R-N-M Alliance enthusiastically shared his vision for the venture at CES stating, "We want to make sure we are being challenged", says Ghosn, "the alliance is created to be a one-stop shop to talk about ideas". As well as acquiring part of the company, Alliance has agreed a research and development partnership with Ionic - which could help drive innovation in electric cars.

It prioritizes open innovation in new mobility, including electrification, autonomous systems, connectivity and artificial intelligence. Both BMW iVentures and GM Ventures have longer histories with venture capital (and BMW expanded its iVentures commitment to over $500 million for the next ten years), but their funds are smaller.

The plan calls for the firms to establish the fund as a Dutch-registered joint venture headed by Francois Dossa, a former banker who led Brazil operations for Societe Generale and then for Nissan, sources familiar with the matter said.

The three carmarkers will jointly fund the entity, with Renault and Nissan putting down 40 per cent of capital each, and Mitsubishi Motors 20 per cent.

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