Nissan, Dongfeng in talks to form fleet-management venture with Didi,
2019-06-27 08:34:24
Nissan Motor Co. and its China partner Dongfeng Group are in talks with Didi Chuxing to launch a joint venture to manage vehicle fleets for Didi's ride-hailing and car-sharing services, five people familiar with the discussions told Reuters. They are also exploring the possibility of the Nissan-Dongfeng venture designing and building vehicles tailored for Didi's ride-hailing service - cars that are likely to be battery-powered and eventually driverless, the people said. A partnership would help the Japanese automaker meet China's production quotas for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, and would be similar to a venture that Volkswagen Group set up with Didi last year. As part of the planned deal, Nissan's China joint venture would help manage fleets of gasoline-fueled and electric vehicles in a dozen cities for Didi, the country's dominant ride-hailing firm. It would also help maintain and service the fleets, whose cars are leased to independent drivers. Nissan's venture with Dongfeng Group would supply the vehicles although some cars may also come from Dongfeng's own brand, the people said, declining to identified as the talks were not public. Nissan, Dongfeng and Didi declined to comment. Three sources said the talks, underway since last year, were far along although one source warned that more scrutiny at both companies over how money is invested could delay finalising of the deal. Nissan, which is grappling with a strained relationship with partner Renault SA after ousting their former chief Carlos Ghosn, has forecast a fourth straight year of steep profit decline for this financial year. Didi is under pressure from investors to deliver a quicker and sounder route to profitability, separate sources familiar with the matter have said. Meeting China's tough quotas for so-called new energy vehicles is proving a headache for automakers in China. Convincing consumers of the merits of the electric cars is not easy, government subsidies for purchasing EVs are being rolled back and vehicle demand is slowing, with consumer sentiment also hit by the trade war with the United States. "It is now common practice for automakers like Nissan to make sure they have some guaranteed sales volume for new-energy vehicles," said Yale Zhang, head of Shanghai-based consultancy Automotive Foresight. Automakers such as Geely, SAIC, Dongfeng, Changan and FAW also have created car-sharing and ride-hailing services. Under the planned deal, in congested cities where municipal governments have restricted the use of gasoline-fuelled cars, Nissan and Dongfeng would provide battery electric cars. Two sources said one model would likely be an all-electric version of the Nissan Sylphy sedan.
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