Will Nissan and Renault Merge into One Company?
Despite sharing a name — the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi Alliance — and a parent company, Nissan and Renault are still two independent automakers that handle their business their own way. Don’t look now, but that could change soon as reports are surfacing that Renault SA and Nissan Motor Co. are in discussions of a potential merge that would bring their 20-year partnership together under a single name. Details of the potential merge are still unclear, but it is believed that the shift towards electrification and shared mobility have a lot to do with it.
Renault, Nissan, and Mitsubishi All Want a Piece of the Robo-Taxi Business
The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance has big plans for its future, and among those plans include hopping aboard the fledgling robo-taxi business. The auto conglomerate has announced plans to pursue shared driverless vehicles, and it’s already in the market for potential tech partners that can come in and help in its development. The alliance has yet to unveil its future partners in the field, but an announcement is expected to come in the near future, signaling the start of a push to become a bigger player in the world of autonomous driving.
Renault Promises 6,000 Models Per Year from New Alpine Plant
Renault’s push to bring the revived Alpine brand back from the dead took another positive step recently when the French automaker invested in plant capacity to accelerate its plans to build up to 6,000 sports cars per year under the Alpine brand. All in all, Renault has spent a little over $42 million in upgrading its production facility in Dieppe, France to accommodate the production of the much-hyped A110 sports car.
Renault is Scared to Enter U.S. Due to its Inability to Compete
Renault is big in Europe and Asia. Just don’t expect it to set its sights on the U.S. with aims of conquering that market. That’s not happening, says Renault-Nissan Alliance CEO Carlos Ghosn. Instead, the French automaker will continue to set its sights on markets where it can be competitive. China and Russia top that list, but the company is also looking at the Brazilian market as a key region for growth. A look at the U.S. may still be in the cards in the future, but because of the level of competitiveness in the market, Renault is more than willing to sit in the sidelines and bide its time until that opportunity arises.
Early Bird Reservations Now Up For Alpine’s New Sports Car
Alpine’s long-awaited and highly anticipated return to the auto world took a major leap forward today when the Renault-owned company officially opened reservations for the “Premier Edition,” a limited-run version of the upcoming sports car, which, by the way still goes by the codename “A120.” So yeah, the coupe still goes nameless yet Alpine is already prepared to give early birds the opportunity to have an early Christmas present. Ho, ho, ho, indeed!
The Premier Edition will be limited to just 1,955 units, an odd number on the surface yet a significant one for the French automaker as the original Alpine brand was founded by Jean Rédélé in 1955.
The company didn’t elaborate on the “exclusive appointments” featured in the Premier Edition, opting only to say that the special edition model will be available in a choice of three colors: Bleu Alpine (Blue), Noir Profond (Black), or Blanc Solaire’ (White). In addition, those who make reservations through the company’s bespoke app and make an initial payment of €2,000 ($2,110) will be afforded the opportunity to select their preferred model number, running from #1 to #1,955. The number they end up choosing will be commemorated by a plaque that Alpine will put on the car’s center console. That said, customers might want to make their reservations early because if their number of choice has been taken, they’re gonna be forced to take a different number. The #1 production model, after all, is far more appealing than, say, #516.
Unfortunately, us here in the U.S. can only watch from afar in envy because the Alpine Premier Edition will only be available to customers in Europe, specifically those from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland. Two other markets – Japan and the U.K. – will also get their allotments of the Alpine Premiere Edition, although reservations for those countries will happen sometime in 2017. Those who are interested should expect to pay anywhere from €55,000 to €60,000 ($58,100 to $63,400) for the limited edition sports car.
Continue after the jump to read the full story.
What Can We Expect From The Alpine A120 And Its Hotter Variants?
Renault’s long drawn out plan to bring back the Alpine brand is now taking shape with the arrival of the mid-engined Alpine A120 sports car. The sports coupe is expected to make its debut at the start of 2017 ahead of the planned release sometime in the third quarter of the year. But new details have emerged about the Alpine A120 as there now appears to be plans to expand the brand’s lineup with different variants of the A120.
Word from Autocar reveals that a convertible is expected to follow the coupe in due time and a high performance variant is also in the pipeline. Details surrounding these additional variants are still being kept under wraps, but it is understood that both models are already in “advanced” development so information about them could be coming sooner than later.
For now, all eyes are on the A120 as it gears up for its long-awaited unveiling, which in itself has been years in-the-making as a result of several false starts that plagued the project. But now that it’s getting close to finally becoming a real thing, the expectation is that the A120 will be using a 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that will develop close to 300 horsepower, giving it a higher output than both the 240-horsepower Alfa Romeo 4C and right about the same figure as the Porsche 718 Cayman. All of the power generated by the A120’s turbo four will likely course through a revised version of the Renault Clio RS’s six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, allowing it to sprint from 0 to 62 mph in just under 4.5 seconds.
Once sales for the A120 commences next year, the sports coupe is tipped to get a starting price of about £50,000 to £55,000, or the equivalent of about $53,000 to $58,000 based on current exchange rates. Alpine managing director Michael van der Sande also hinted that production for the car could range from 5,000 to 7,000 units on an annual basis with models being sold in a handful of dealerships across Europe. Don’t expect the A120 to hit U.S. shores anytime soon.
Continue after the jump to read the full story.
Renault Looking To Sell EVs In China On The Cheap
It’s no secret China has become the world’s largest market for electric cars and automakers from all corners of the world have taken notice and are gearing up to enter the lucrative market, all with the hope of biting off a big piece of that pie. One of these companies is Renault and part of its plan to get a chunk of the market is to offer electric vehicles in China that will cost as little as $8,000.
Yes, an $8,000 Renault electric car could happen in China, all thanks to the increasing amount of incentives the Chinese government is offering to get its citizens to buy electric cars. Right now, these incentives are nearing $20,000, and that’s per vehicle. That provides a company like Renault plenty of wiggle room to develop electric cars while not squeezing itself out on a small budget. Renault-Nissan big boss Carlos Ghosn made the prediction of sorts at the New York Times Energy for Tomorrow conference in Paris last week and while he didn’t dive into the specifics on how the company plans to navigate itself around those price points, he did say that the company is embracing the challenge of making this breakthrough because, in his own words, “it’s going to change the game.”
So how exactly can Renault accomplish this goal? For one, it already has a local partnership in place with Chinese automaker Donfeng. Together, the two companies have created a local joint venture, Dongfeng Renault Automobile Co., to develop electric vehicles together with testing for a self-driving EV already set to start this month. In addition, Renault has already indicated plans to move away from traditional engines like diesels and focus more on zero-emissions vehicles. On that note, it also has some technologies in place to help aid it in its development of electric cars, including those that are earmarked for the massive Chinese market. One such technology is the Z.E. 40 batteries that was unveiled at the 2016 Paris Motor Show with the 2017 Renault Zoe.
Considering the stakes that are involved in breaking into the Chinese market, Renault looks to be making a push to be one of the first global brands to make its market on the growing market. Offering an electric car that could cost as little as $8,000 after government incentives is one way to do that.
Continue after the jump to read the full story.
The Era of Small Engines in Europe Could be Coming to an End
The war on emissions has been on-going with automakers continuously pressed to lower emissions output from their vehicles year after year. Over in Europe, the strategy to meet stringent emissions regulations has resulted in the downsizing of engines and the addition of turbochargers to make up for the power deficit. As such, the average engine size in Europe is anywhere between 1.3- and 1.9-liters. The shrinking of engines has worked well for emissions tests in Europe up until now, but according to Reuters, new on-the-road emissions testing has shown that smaller engines actually fail to meet the latest standards. This being the case, automakers are being forced to rethink their strategy, and those smaller engines could be on the chopping block.
So how bad is it? Well, real-world testing has shown that most of the smaller engines currently in use – like GM’s 1.2-liter diesel and VW’s 1.4-liter, three-pot diesel – can produce NOx levels up to 15 times the current legal standard when driven at higher loads. Smaller gasoline engines of similar size lose fuel-efficiency and “spew fine particles and carbon monoxide.” Renault’s 0.9-liter H4Bt engine injects excess fuel to prevent overheating, which has been found to produce massive levels of unburned hydrocarbons, fine particles, and CO2. So, what can automakers do to meet the tougher emissions regulations that must be adhered to by 2019?
Automakers have largely remained silent as to what their strategy will be going forward. But, sources have indicated that Volkswagen, Renault, and General Motors are all preparing to upsize some of their best-selling smaller engines while others will be retired altogether. All three have declined to comment on specific plans so far, but Alain Rapos – the Head of Powertrain for Renault-Nissan – said, “The techniques we’ve used to reduce engine capacities will no longer allow us to meet emissions standards. We’re reaching the limits of downsizing.”
Keep Reading for the rest of the story.
Mitsubishi to Become Part of the Renault-Nissan Alliance
Rumors of Mitsubishi being absorbed into the Renault-Nissan Alliance have been swirling around for a quite a few months, but a deal could could be struck by the end of 2016. That’s the word from Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, who said that a "massive" business plan will be announced as soon as the group acquires a 34-percent ownership of the Japanese automaker.
The announcement was made at the 2016 Paris Motor Show, where Ghosn also said he is confident that legal and government authorities will approve the $2.2 billion transaction. According to him, the Renault-Nissan Alliance is already working on a thorough business plan that will be unveiled by the end of the year.
“This is not a deal where we say, ‘OK, we made the deal, now let’s think what we can do together,” he told reporters. “No. The day we announce the deal, we’re going to tell you exactly what we’re going to do together. And it’s massive. It’s massive between Mitsubishi and Nissan. And also, it may be very significant between Renault and Mitsubishi.”
The new Alliance will also impact how Nissan and Mitsubishi work in the U.S., but Ghosn didn’t reveal specific details. "We will have to dig more in the U.S.,” he said. “But when you talk about purchasing, engineering, platforms, engines, plug-in hybrids — it’s massive."
The Renault-Nissan Alliance was founded in 1999 and it has since linked the two companies in vehicle development and management, bringing significant savings through platform and drivetrain sharing, among another shared strategies. It’s not yet clear how Mitsubishi will function in this equation, but the Japanese company already has a cooperation agreement with Nissan in markets such as Japan and India.
With technology in our cars advancing at turbocharged speeds, it’s no surprise that household names like Apple and Microsoft are starting to pop up more frequently than ever. Even 10 years ago, talking about Microsoft and cars or Apple and cars just seemed out of place, but today, we’re about to talk about an all-new partnership between Microsoft and Nissan, as they up the ante on bringing better connectivity into mainstream, mass-market vehicles.
Azure is an intelligent cloud of sorts that is offered by Microsoft and will surely find its way into Nissan and Renault vehicles in the near future. This partnership will allow Microsoft and Nissan to work together in developing advanced features like over-the-air updates, remote monitors, advanced vehicle protection, and even autonomous and collision-avoidance systems. The overall aim of this partnership is to launch more than 10 vehicles with autonomous driving technology by 2020, all of which will use Azure services to help passengers make better use of their “free time” in the car.
Ogi Redzic, the Senior VP of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, said, “A car is becoming increasingly connected, intelligent and personal. Partnering with Microsoft allows us to accelerate the development of the associated key technologies needed to enable scenarios our customers want and build all-new ones they haven’t even imagined. We aim to become the provider of connected mobility for everyone with one single global platform.”
According to Nissan, this partnership with Microsoft was chosen, in part, because of the brand’s “enterprise-grade” security and Microsoft’s “commitment to compliance.” Furthermore, Azure will provide extreme flexibility to help in building a common platform for use within the Renault-Nissan alliance.
Continue reading for the full story.
The ongoing saga surrounding Renault’s status in Formula One took another turn after it was announced that the French automaker has signed a letter of intent with Gravity Motorsports, an affiliate of Genii Capital SA, to acquire a controlling stake in Lotus’ F1 Team. The expected acquisition is considered the first step towards the company’s return to Formula One racing as a full-scale constructor since it sold a 75 percent stake in its old team to the Genii Capital investment company in 2009.
The automaker sold its remaining 25 percent stake to Genii in 2010. Since then, Renault turned its attention away from being a constructor, opting instead to keep its involvement in F1 as an engine supplier for a handful of teams, including Red Bull Racing, which dominated the series from 2010 to 2013.
Now it appears that Renault’s ready to throw its name back in the series as a constructor, fulfilling company CEO Carlos Ghosn’s promise that Renault would cease in its role as an engine supplier and turn its attention towards purchasing a team of its own or withdrawing from the sport entirely. The new agreement to essentially buy back the shares it sold to Genii means that the Renault’s back in business a full-scale constructor beginning in 2016.
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Renault, of all automakers, has just released a new midsize pickup truck concept called the Alaskan. This marks the first time Renault has targeted the upmarket scene with a pickup and is slated to preview a production pickup that will be a global player. What’s more, this could very well be the first real glimpse of what the 2020 Mercedes-Benz new global pickup could look like.
Wait, Mercedes? Yep Mercedes. Don’t forget Renault and Nissan have their global alliance together and Mercedes has already announced it will build its first pickup in conjunction with Nissan. What makes this rumor even more plausible is just how similar the Alaskan Concept looks to the first Mercedes rendering of its pickup. The speculation is a stretch, for sure, but the possibility is there nonetheless. (Be sure to check out the photo comparison below.)
Regardless of the Mercedes tie-in, Renault’s newest concept shows off a more luxurious side to the brand’s bustling commercial truck lineup. The automaker stresses its new pickup is for “business and leisure use, plus everyday motoring.” This is a big departure from Renault’s more utilitarian workhorses that populate its commercial fleet.
The Alaskan concept is only a concept, but Renault says the Alaskan is a direct foretaste of a production-ready pickup. The yet-unnamed pickup will fight for sales in nearly every global market save for North America – that is, unless its underpinnings cross the pond via Mercedes or as the next-generation Nissan Frontier.
Continue reading to learn more about the Renault Alaskan Concept.
Japanese automaker Mitsubishi is reportedly seeking a partnership with Nissan that would help it develop a new mid-size sedan for the U.S. market. According to Automotive News, quoting a company source, Nissan has begun discussions with Mitsubishi, after the latter’s talks with Renault, Nissan’s long-time alliance partner, broke down. Although Mitsubishi didn’t confirm the rumor, a company spokesman did admit the automaker is looking for partners to help with R&D and production costs.
There is no word as to when such a partnership will come to fruition, much less when a new Mitsubishi mid-size will arrive in dealerships, but Nissan’s D platform seems to be the most likely candidate for such a sedan. The platform underpins a range of Nissan-Renault alliance models, including the Nissan Altima, Nissan Maxima, and the Infiniti QX60.
A new mid-size would be Mitsubishi’s first such vehicle in the U.S since the discontinuation of the Galant in 2012. Manufactured in North America, the ninth-generation Galant was offered with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder or 3.8-liter V-6 engine with up to 258 horsepower. The final Galant rolled off the assembly line in August 2012.
Click past the jump to read more about a possible Nissan-Mitsu car venture.
The Renault-Caterham joint venture has officially been dissolved. It was a nice plan at first, but like a lot of nice plans, this one sputtered and died before anything great could come from it. The two sides decided on an amicable split two years after joining forces on what was initially planned as the rebirth of the Alpine brand. The companies were so dedicated at one point, they went so far as to co-found Société des Automobiles Alpine Caterham with the intention of launching a pair of similarly styled sports cars by 2016.
But somewhere along the way, the relationship between the two companies disintegrated. It even came to a point where disagreements on the development of the sports cars caused significant delays. So instead of soldiering on and squashing the tensions between the two sides, both companies chose to drop the project entirely and go their separate ways.
Renault has since acquired full ownership of Société des Automobiles Alpine Caterham and dropped "Caterham" from the official company name. Both companies are moving forward in building new sports cars but will do so independently.
A lot of people, including us, are understandably disappointed that the Renault-Caterham marriage didn’t work. It really had so much promise at the beginning. The thought of a shared sports car that incorporated the Renault Alpine A110-50 Concept had a lot of people in the industry at attention, wondering what these companies could create together.
Surprisingly, there are no hard feelings, as the two brands still plan to work together through "other forms of cooperation," but it doesn’t sound as exciting as building a sports car together.
Oh, well. So much for that.
Click past the jump to read more about Renault-Caterham’s joint venture.
Renault has big plans for Alpine and apparently, it wants its new sub-brand to follow in the footsteps of another automaker: Porsche.
That much was said by Renault’s Senior Vice President of Corporate Design, Laurens van den Acker, who recently told Piston Heads of the company’s expectations for Alpine.
But before it can get to that level, it needs to have a sports car that can do what the 911 did for Porsche. Lofty goals, but one Renault hopes it can achieve.
"We need to create the 911 of Alpine," van den Acker said. "Then we can do the Panamera and Cayman."
For now, Alpine’s initial plans involve building an entry-level sports car that’s already in the pipeline. Set to be launched in 2016, the car is expected to carry some styling cues from the classic A110 from back in the 60s with an equally possible interpretation on the A110-50 Concept that was launched last year.
No details about the car have been confirmed but there’s word that it will carry a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces about 280 horsepower and mates to either a six-speed manual transmission or a dual-clutch EDC automatic. It’s expected to carry a price of about £50,000 ($76,000) per unit.
Click past the jump to read about the Renault Alpine A110-50 Concept