The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance has signaled one of its strongest nods to e-mobility yet, pledging to spend up to $1 billion over the next five years on mobility technologies.
The new venture capital fund, called Alliance Ventures, will intend to support technology in the areas of electric vehicles, self-driving, connectivity, AI, and mobility. Its first year will call for up to $200 million worth of investments, acting as an intermediary between startups and the market, with the group’s combined sales of more than 10 million vehicles across 10 brands in 2017.
Of the funds, Renault and Nissan are chipping in 40 percent apiece towards Alliance Ventures with Mitsubishi delivering the remaining 20 percent.
“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,” said Carlos Ghosn, chairman and chief executive officer of Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi. “This new fund reflects the collaborative spirit and entrepreneurial mindset at the heart of the Alliance.”
Alliance Ventures has already injected capital in one startup, Massachusetts-based Ionic Materials, a developer of solid-state batteries aiming for a safer alternative to traditional lithium-ion cells, known for its higher probability of flammability while overcharging or during auto accidents Its goal is to sell its proprietary polymer to battery companies as a key supplier.
Other competitors, such as GM, BMW, and Toyota, have launched similar initiatives with GM Ventures LLC, iVentures, and AI Ventures, respectively. All have already invested in growth-stage companies. From its Crunchbase profiles, venture rounds have been led, funding notable companies such as zero-emission bus company Proterra, lease marketplace Fair.com (who recently purchased Uber’s cash burning Xchange Leasing business), and Nauto Inc, an AI self-driving car technology company.
The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance is the world’s largest automotive alliance by size, with its member companies contributing sales in 200 countries. Its primary initiative is a six-year plan, called Alliance 2022, which seeks to double annual sales, electrify more vehicles, and combine resources towards research and development of autonomous vehicles, connectivity, and mobility services. Leading Alliance Ventures is François Dossa, the CEO of Nissan Brazil and a former investment banker.