Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi sets up $1 billion fund for auto-tech

Fund will focus on investments and partnerships in Silicon Valley, Paris, Yokohama, Beijing and Tel Aviv

Shoshanna Solomon is The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

Illustrative image of Renault Megane 2017 models (ESezer, iStock by Getty Images)
Illustrative image of Renault Megane 2017 models (ESezer, iStock by Getty Images)

The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, one of the world’s leading automotive alliances, said Sunday it was setting up a new corporate venture capital fund that plans to invest up to $1 billion over five years to support startups and partnerships focused on auto technologies around the world including Israel. The aim is to tap into the most promising automotive-technology startups, the automakers said.

The new Alliance Ventures fund expects to invest up to $200 million in startups in the first year, and set up partnerships with technology entrepreneurs focused on areas such as electric and autonomous vehicles, connectivity and artificial intelligence.

The fund will focus its operations in Silicon Valley, Paris, Yokohama, Beijing and Tel Aviv, and will make strategic investments at all startup stages and mentor entrepreneurs through partnerships. The selected partners will get access to the global scale of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi enterprise, which sold more than 10 million vehicles in 2017 through 10 brands, and has a presence in all major automotive markets.

Renault (40%), Nissan (40%) and Mitsubishi Motors (20%) will jointly fund the entity, which will have a dedicated investment committee to make investment decisions and monitor performance.

This investment initiative is designed to attract the world’s most promising automotive-technology start-ups to the Alliance, said Carlos Ghosn, chairman and chief executive officer of Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, in a statement.

This initiative complements the Alliance 2022 strategic plan, launched last year by the three automakers, which aims to increase revenues and cut costs for the three companies through the use of technology. The Alliance 2022 targets combined revenues of its member companies at $240 billion, with annual unit sales exceeding 14 million by the end of 2022.

The new fund’s first investment will be in Ionic Materials, a US-based company that is developing solid-state cobalt-free battery materials that improve the performance and cost effectiveness of high-energy density batteries for automotive and other applications.

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 Alliance, most recently as chief executive officer of Nissan Brazil.

The aim of Alliance Ventures is to become the largest corporate venture capital fund in the automotive industry, the automakers said in a statement.

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