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Nissan and Honda might join forces on EV batteries and autonomous driving tech

Two of Japan’s biggest car makers, and rivals, could be about to collaborate on EV and autonomous driving technology

Makoto Uchida and Toshihiro Mibe

Nissan and Honda have announced they are to initiate a feasibility study on the co-development of electric car powertrain technology and autonomous driver functions. This is the first time the two key Japanese rivals have considered joining forces in the development of new tech, and comes due to the cost and scale of required investment for electric vehicles.

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While both Japanese companies have previously been noted for their advancements in eco-friendly powertrain technology, the two companies have been slow to capitalise on that head start. In the intervening years companies such as Tesla and a new wave of Chinese competitors have begun to get the upper hand, putting them years ahead in terms of development. The feasibility study will include such cross-collaboration on “automotive software platforms, core components in relation to EVs and its complementary products”. 

In a joint statement with Honda, Makoto Uchida, Nissan’s president and CEO, said: “It is important to prepare for the increasing pace of transformation in mobility in the mid-to-long-term, and it is significant that we have reached this agreement based on a mutual understanding that Honda and Nissan face common challenges. We look forward to further discussions and aim to find win-wins for sustainable growth.”

Nissan, in particular, was an early adopter of electric powertrains, introducing the Leaf hatchback years before mainstream competitors This advantage did diversify into other models such as the e-NV commercial van, but the continued expansion has been slow, with the Ariya being the sole new EV passenger model launched in Europe since the Leaf.

Honda’s exploits have generally been in the areas of hybridisation and hydrogen fuel cell tech, with the brand’s first mainstream all-electric models only recently being released to the public. This was the innovative but expensive Honda e here in Europe, followed more recently by the e:NY1 SUV that is adapted from the combustion-powered HR-V.

Both companies are not new to automotive collaborations, with Honda currently in an agreement with General Motors to build its North American-market Prologue crossover on GM’s Ultium EV platform. Nissan’s EV pathway in Europe was shared with its French sister company Renault, but this new collaboration will be run from the company’s Japanese home base. 

This is only the first step towards a larger collaboration between the two companies, the statement revealing that “the two companies have reached the understanding based on the belief that it is necessary to combine their strengths and explore the possibility of future collaboration”.

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Senior staff writer

Senior staff writer at Auto Express, Jordan joined the team after six years at evo magazine where he specialised in news and reviews of cars at the high performance end of the car market. 

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