The Alliance has earmarked one billion dollars to invest through its new venture capital arm. Their first investment flows to Ionic Materials, a start-up working on solid-state batteries free of cobalt.
The trio of Renault, Nissan und Mitsubishi set up a new unit called Fonds Alliance Ventures that holds 1bn dollars to buy into innovative start-ups. Those working on technologies for new mobility, including vehicle electrification, autonomy, connectivity and artificial intelligence may receive up to 200 million dollars.
Fonds Alliance Ventures’ first incubation attempt is a strategic investment into U.S. start-up Ionic Materials based in Massachusetts. It develops solid-state cobalt-free battery materials, more concretely a solid polymer electrolyte that enables improved performance and cost effectiveness of batteries for automotive and other applications.
The company describes its electrolyte as a “platform technology” that can be combined with a wide range of electrode chemistries, including lithium metal anodes, sulfur cathodes, and more.
Cobalt has been highly sought after recently by carmakers such as Volkswagen and BMW struggling to strike a deal to secure their supply. They too turn to R&D efforts. In Japan, Toyota and Panasonic pledge to jointly work on both battery development as well as recycling in order to quench the thirst for power packs (we reported).
Renault-Nissan’s Alliance Ventures will be led by François Dossa, who has over 20 years of experience in investment banking, plus six years of experience within the group, most recently, as chief executive officer of Nissan Brazil.
This latest initiative is in line with the electrification strategy, Alliance 2022. At its end, it will launch 12 pure electric models, utilizing common EV platforms and components, while also bringing to market 40 vehicles with autonomous drive technology and developing robo-vehicle ride-hailing services.
Renault (40%), Nissan (40%) and Mitsubishi Motors (20%) will jointly fund the entity. They are looking for investment opportunities.