Renault Talks to Uber, Amazon as Car Revolution Gathers Steam

(Bloomberg) -- Carlos Ghosn, who heads the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, predicted the revolution sweeping the automobile industry will become increasingly visible in the next five years, with self-driving and connected cars more prevalent while consumers shun tainted technologies like diesel.

To meet the changes, the Franco-Japanese carmaking pact is considering partnerships with companies like Uber Technologies Inc., Inc. and China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. for its autonomous cars, the 63-year-old executive said in a Bloomberg TV interview Tuesday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

“We’ll be doing and selling robotaxis with partners, and we are going to do it by ourselves,” said Ghosn. “Every car manufacturer is working with many tech companies, there’s absolutely no exclusivity in this field.”

As Ghosn steps back from overseeing day-to-day operations as chief executive officer at French automaker Renault SA, he’ll focus on future of transport projects at all three members of the alliance. This means continuing to meet executives from tech companies about twice a year, he said, and working to ensure Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi develop common strategies and platforms.

Solidify Alliance

“I will be seeking to continue to solidify the alliance while still supervising the performance of each one of them,” Ghosn said. “All the technology bricks, which are at the base of the car of the future, will be developed in common between the three companies.”

After giving up the CEO post at Nissan Motor Co. last year, Ghosn retains leadership positions at all three carmakers. He has hinted that he could leave the CEO job at Renault when his term ends in June, after which he would focus on the alliance he helped build with Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors Corp., two companies where he’s chairman. Ghosn has said the alliance should be led by managers with separate responsibilities for each carmaker -- rather than one individual sharing the top jobs as he did.

As digital technologies make their way into vehicles, Ghosn painted a dim picture of the future of diesel fuel, which has dominated the European landscape due to tax incentives and fuel efficiency.

The share of diesel-powered cars sold in Europe will soon drop to less than 40 percent, forcing automakers to adapt and increase their investment in cleaner technologies, he said.

For the first time since 2009, sales last year of cars running on gasoline overtook diesel in Europe, according to the industry association ACEA. The market share of diesel-powered vehicles dropped to 46.3 percent of new cars, from 50.2 percent in the first half of 2017, it said.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.