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Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi to set up $1bn venture capital company

Team pegs US solid-state battery startup for first investment

Carlos Ghosn, chairman and CEO of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, responds to a question on the alliance's new venture capital fund during roundtable with journalists at the 2018 CES in Las Vegas on Jan. 9.   © Reuters

LAS VEGAS, U.S. -- French automaker Renault will team with Japanese auto giants Nissan Motor and Mitsubishi Motors to establish a venture capital company. The three plan to invest up to $1 billion over the next five years in startups that focus on advanced autonomous driving, artificial intelligence and other technologies, group leader Carlos Ghosn said on Tuesday.

The first investment will go to Ionic Materials, an American venture business developing materials for an entirely solid-state battery, Ghosn said at a news conference on the first day of the CES -- the world's largest consumer electronics fair -- that kicked off here on the same day.

Ionic is developing materials for an entirely solid-state battery free of cobalt, the price of which is soaring. The promising battery is still at the development stage, and Ionic is testing a number of technologies, according to the company.

The venture capital company will coordinate the automakers' work with startups. Technologies discovered by each partner will be shared through the alliance. Offices will be established in different locations around the world, including Israel and India.

The three automakers will invest money equaling 2% of their combined research and development budgets to the new company.

Major automakers are setting up venture capital units to help forge ties with startups that possess promising technologies.

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