Daimler expanding cooperation with Renault-Nissan to develop electric cars

Article by Christian Andrei, on September 15, 2010

To be able to comply with tightening emission reduction regulations, Daimler AG has decided to expand its cooperation with Renault SA and Nissan Motor Co. in the development of electric cars. In an interview with Reuters, Daimler's research chief, Thomas Weber, said that the alliance will be expanded to include all three partners with regards to electric motors, batteries and powertrains.

As deadlines for reduced emission levels near, carmakers and car parts suppliers are racing to get established in the market for zero-emission vehicles. Last Monday, Toyota Motor Corp. said that by 2012, it will offer the cheapest green car of its kind – a plug-in version of its Prius model.

Last April, Renault, Nissan and Daimler signed a cooperation deal that was initially focused on small cars, light commercial vehicles and engines. The deal included the next-generation Smart ForTwo and Renault Twingo models, the electric versions of the cars, plus the expansion of the Smart and Twingo model lines. Throughout the world, car emission standards have been tightened as efforts to prevent global warming.

Brussels aims for new cars sold in Europe to have an overall level of about 95 grams of CO2 per kilometer by 2020. Weber said that Daimler won’t be able to meet the target of 95 grams CO2 in 2020 without electric vehicles with batteries and fuel cells. Weber said that the new technology is still in its infancy and that it won't be easy to earn money with these cars.

Daimler expects that by broadening its existing partnership with Renault and Nissan, it will be able to cut costs by building scale. Weber explained that Daimler benefits from economies of scale for small three- and four-cylinder engines.

He said that on its own, Daimler will be able to reach quantities of about 500,000 engines but with Renault, “we are talking about several million." Weber also said that as part of the deal, he expects Nissan to purchase a mid-five-digit number of diesel engines from Mercedes. [via autonews - sub. required]

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