A few weeks ago, Nissan announced that it will take up a 15% stake in Renault’s new EV unit called Ampere. That move was a sign that the automakers may have found a way to smoothen their long rocky relationship. Now, both companies have announced plans to increase R&D and production in India.
From their joint plant in Chennai, the companies will collaborate on the production of six new vehicle models—3 for each automaker. Four of the vehicles will be C-segment SUVs while two will be A-segment electric vehicles—the first-ever EVs from both companies in India. To this effect, the companies will invest around Rs 5,300 crores ($600 million) to support the new projects.
The automakers claim the investment will create around 2,000 new jobs at the Renault Nissan Automotive India Private Ltd (RNAIPL) plant in Chennai over the coming years. Renault and Nissan also estimate that the investment will help the Chennai factory to become carbon-neutral by 2045.
The company disclosed that this will happen through an ongoing program to shift to 100% renewable energy while also lowering the energy consumption at the facility by 50%. At the moment, the Chennai plant sources half of its electricity from renewable sources including wind, biomass, and solar.
The automakers have plans to expand the existing solar plant in the facility by over 600%. This will expand the energy output to 14 MW from the current 2.2 MW. The new vehicles will be built on the popular Alliance platforms but will retain the distinctive styling of the individual brands.
The production vehicles that will come out of the collaboration will be available for domestic and international customers. In other words, the Renault-Nissan center will become an international export hub with a focus on new Indian and international projects. This will boost the Chennai plant’s utilization to 80%.
Renault and Nissan have announced the realigning of their shareholding in the partnership’s joint operation. In the new framework, RNAIPL will take ownership of 51% Nissan and 49% Renault. Also, Renault Nissan Technology Business Center (RNTBCI) will take ownership of 51% Renault and 49% Nissan.
More details on the new Indian EVs from Renault and Nissan
According to credible sources, the new EVs from Renault and Nissan will be based on the CMF-AEV platform. While the brands did not disclose the name of the EVs, there are indications that it will be the entry-level Kwid or the entry-level Kwid E-Tech.
The Indian version will be built under Nissan and Renault badges with slight differences as was the case with the Magnite and Kiger. Renault has been making frantic efforts to introduce the Kwid EV but substantial development was not forthcoming until the recent announcement with Nissan.
The new investment will help fast-track that plan to reality. Important details like the range and battery capacity of the Renault Kwid EV remain elusive. The development will be done in partnership with Dongfeng, a Chinese manufacturer.
There are speculations that the Kwid EV will likely have a driving range of 155 miles (250 km), just like the Renault K-ZE concept which inspired the new EV. Also, the C-segment vehicle the automakers plan to launch in the Indian market is most likely going to be an electric derivative of the Kiger.
Nissan recalls nearly 65,000 Leaf EVs
In another development, Nissan has issued a global recall campaign for its electric hatchback, Leaf EV. The recall affected about 64,700 units of the car built between 2017 and 2022. The automaker said the affected vehicles come with driver manual errors.
According to the Japanese automaker, the error in the manual gave false instructions on how to use the defroster resulting in reduced defroster performance. For example, the erroneous driver manual of the Nissan Leaf EV said the maximum fan speed should be engaged when operating the defroster.
However, doing so will cause the heater to enter a fail-safe mode, leading to a limited defroster output. In severe cases, the diminished heater output can raise the chances of accidents. While this sounds like a trivial issue, the automaker considers it serious enough to voluntarily issue a recall for all affected models.
According to Cars.com reports, the Japanese automaker is working on sending the correct defroster instruction to the owners of the affected Leaf EV on or before 1 April 2023. The production of the current generation of the Nissan Leaf EV has been on since October 2017.
The affordability of the all-electric hatchback has made it the leader in the global electrification market. However, the Nissan Leaf is now facing stiff competition from newer EVs that are both affordable and offer a better range.
The Japanese automaker is now mulling plans to phase out the Leaf EV with a crossover that will be lower than the Ariya in the company’s product portfolio. The new crossover will likely be built in the UK and be based on the CMF-EV architecture of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance.
This is the platform that was used for the Renault Megane E-Tech and the Nissan Ariya. The new crossover is expected to open order books sometime in 2025. More details like range and infotainment will be revealed in the coming months.