Shared Electric Car Platform Will Reduce Costs For Nissan, Renault, and Mitsubishi


In an attempt to significantly reduce the costs of manufacturing an electric car, Nissan, Renault, and Mitsubishi will share their engineering resources to develop one chassis suitable for every electric car model the three companies build. Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn is pushing hard to get the retail price of the electric cars down to the point where they are cost competitive with conventional cars.

Nissan electric car

Despite the fact that electric cars are superior to cars with internal combustion engine in many respects, the buying public continues to do what it always does in a market economy — seek the lowest price. In an effort to get people to choose an electric car over a conventional car, governments around the world offer a bewildering array of incentives to those who choose to buy electric.

In the US, electric car buyers can qualify for up to $7,500 in federal tax credits, but what really lights a fire under some people are non-monetary incentives like access to HOV lanes, free parking in cities, or access to free charging. In China, someone who buys a conventional car in one of that country’s crowded cities — China has 106 cities with more than 1 million inhabitants, the US has 8 — may have to wait as much as 5 years to register their car. A person who buys an electric car instead qualifies for a registration immediately.

Mitsubishi has recently come under the control of Nissan, after a fuel economy scandal earlier this year came close to bankrupting the company. A report in Japanese business news source Nikkei says all three companies will use the redesigned chassis intended for the upcoming second generation LEAF — due to arrive in 2018 — as the basis for every electric car they sell. Developing one chassis rather than three will significantly lower development costs. The three companies will also share key components such as the motor, inverter, and battery — a move that will further reduce production costs.

Ghosn is on record as wanting to make an electric car for the Chinese market that retails for $8,000 or less. It will be no Tesla, but in a country that sells nearly 20 million news cars a year, many drivers are looking for basic transportation rather than luxury appointments.

Electric cars are not novel anymore like they were in 2010 when the LEAF first went on sale. Interest in driving electric is at an all time high. Many industry observers expect electric cars to become the norm within the next decade. Higher prices than conventional cars are the only thing keeping the dam from breaking. If Nissan, Renault, and Mitsubishi can figure a way to slash the cost of their electrics by 20%, they could become a dominant force in the global vehicle market.

Source: Reuters    Photo credit: navets via / CC BY

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  • Rick

    Now that would be something

  • trackdaze

    sufficient battery production capacity? I have heard nothing on what they are doing to increase battery production. This would be fundamental to reduced cost.

    To date the nissan and renault alliance hasn’t been to good at sharing.

    And what of electric 4wd suvs that mitsubishi have been developing? Or the joint venture between it bosch and yuasa thats brief is to half the price and weight and double the capacity of batteries by 2020?

    • Steve Hanley

      Well, it’s not 2020 yet! Maybe they plan to cram all the improvements into the back end of the time window? ; – )

      Carlos Ghosn may not be the genius Elon Musk is, but he is pretty darn smart in his own right. Now, if he could JUST hire some damn stylists!!!

      • kevin mccune

        Amen to that ,those little Brown Guys from the rain forest who work as stylists apparently haven’t seen much fauna besides tree frogs ( just kidding but doesn’t one of those cars look like a tree frog ?)

        • Steve Hanley

          I believe you are referring to the Nissan Joke…, umm, I mean Juke!

          • kevin mccune

            That’s it ! , I couldn’t remember the moniker .

  • zn

    The games will truly begin once low-cost titans such as Mazda, Toyota, Nissan et al jump in with both feet. The Model 3 will likely sit a notch above the kind of ‘everyman’ EV that traditional mainstream automakers, like Toyota, tend to dominate. In saying that though, lower battery costs and decidedly less sexy design/features should make a $25k/350km EV more than possible.

    2018/19 will be a most interesting time.

    • Steve Hanley

      Agreed about the end of this decade bringing major changes to the automotive marketplace.

      I suspect the Tesla Model 3 will compete mostly against the BMW 3 Series in terms of size, price and amenities. Expectations are that the typical Model 3 will sell for $42,000 when equipped the way buyers want them.

      Add dual motors, larger battery, Ridiculous Mode, air suspension, glass roof, premium interior and sound system, advanced Autopilot, and other assorted bumpf and the price could touch $60,000. Hardly Corolla/Civic territory.

      The Model 3 will be a damn good car, but a vehicle for Joe SixPack? I don’t think so.

      • WebUserAtLarge

        “…Model 3 will compete mostly against the BMW 3 Series…” – I agree. BUT Mr. Musk has shown that he can also “dress down” a model to make it less expensive. Consider a plane Model 3 with a battery limited to, say ~ 70-80%, and reduced in price vis-a-vis Model S60 vs ModelS100. Now we ARE talking about “Corolla/Civic territory”. No? 🙂

        • Marc P

          Corolla – Civic price is around 18 to 20k. Not sure the Model 3 will ever come down to that level…! More like Camry-Avalon territory. Somewhat mainstream, but still not a bare bones Joe everybody vehicle like the Corolla or Civic.

          Might be a while before EVs come down to that level, at least here in North America.

          There’ll be some really cheap sub 10k EV’s in some third world markets, but not the type of vehicles that would sell here.