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Nissan to put $725 million into Ampere EV as part of plans to rebalance alliance with Renault

Renault's EV models such as the Megane E-Tech electric could fall under the Ampere subsidiary. Image: Renault

Nissan Motor will invest around $725 million in Ampere, the new electric vehicle unit of French automaker Renault, as part of the group's plans to overhaul their alliance, Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun reported.

Quoting unidentified sources, the newspaper said Ampere is estimated to receive an enterprise value between €8 billion and €10 billion, which will give Nissan a stake of less than 10 percent — in February, the company had set a ceiling of 15 percent — and a Nissan director will join the Ampere board.

A spokesperson for Nissan confirmed talks, but said no deal had been finalized. "Discussions are being held between the two companies, but no agreement has been reached yet," the spokesperson said.

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Renault, whose chairman has warned of a 'Chinese storm' in EVs, is spinning Ampere out as a separate company, and has appointed CEO Luca de Meo as Chairman and CEO at Ampere. The French automaker expects that Ampere will break even on free cash flow and become profitable by 2025, and achieve double-digit operating profit margin by the end of the decade.

Japanese carmakers are widely considered to have missed the bus on electric vehicles, having betted instead on hydrogen fuel cells.

Experts point out that the Japanese government offers more subsidies for fuel cell cars than EVs, even though the fuel cell Toyota Mirai has sold just 22,000 units globally since its launch in 2015. Last month, Japan announced a $840 million package to domestic carmakers in a bid to strengthen its battery supply chain.

Nissan and Renault have been looking to overhaul their partnership. The two companies, whose arrangement now includes Mitsubishi Motors, first came together in 1999. In January this year, they agreed that Renault would lower its stake in Nissan to 15 percent from 43 percent, in line with Nissan's stake in Renault. 

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