© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The logos of car manufacturers Nissan and Renault are pictured at a dealership Kyiv, Ukraine June 25, 2020. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko/File Photo
TOKYO (Reuters) – Nissan (OTC:) Motor Co’s negotiations with its partner and top shareholder Renault SA (OTC:) are focused on optimising their investment in electric vehicles and improving the competitiveness of the alliance, the Japanese automaker’s CEO told Reuters on Friday.
Negotiations between Renault (EPA:) and Nissan are ongoing with less than two weeks remaining to meet a Nov. 15 target the automakers had set to reach a deal, according to people with knowledge of the talks.
Nissan’s Chief Executive Makoto Uchida declined to comment on the timing of potential deal with Renault and whether it can be done this month.
He said the negotiations were aimed at improving the automakers’ ability to compete at a time of economic uncertainty and as the industry pushes toward what he described as its biggest transformation in a century with the shift to electric vehicles.
“The discussion we are having is about how to make our competitiveness even stronger,” Uchida said. “That’s number one.”
The automakers said last month they were in discussions about the future of an alliance founded in 1999 when Renault took a stake in Nissan and helped drive a turnaround for the Japanese company under former executive-turned fugitive Carlos Ghosn.
Nissan is considering investing in Renault’s planned electric vehicle unit, the companies said last month.
The two sides have also been discussing a reduction in Renault’s 43% stake in Nissan, potentially to 15% and the terms under which that could happen, people with knowledge of the talks have said.
Renault is splitting off its electric vehicle business, code-named “Ampere”, from its legacy internal combustion engine business, code-named “Horse”, as it plays catch-up in an industry shift to electric vehicles led by U.S. rival Tesla (NASDAQ:) Inc.
On a separate track from its discussions with Nissan, Renault has also been talking to Geely Automobile Holdings (OTC:) about the Chinese automaker taking a stake in its internal combustion-engine unit, people familiar with those talks have said.
That unit includes Renault production sites in Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Romania and Latin America.