Seemingly in anticipation of surging demand for electric light-duty commercial vehicles as stricter regulations go into effect, Renault has formed a new joint venture in China with the firm Brilliance China Automotive Holdings Ltd.
The new joint venture will be focused on the design and production of light-duty commercial vehicles to be sold under the Renault, Jinbei, and Huasong brand names. The plan is reportedly for the new joint venture to sell 150,000 vehicles a year by 2022.
It’s not clear yet what portion of that figure relates to the sale of plug-in electric vehicles, but considering that Renault has a number of offerings already developed in that regard it would figure that they’re intended to represent a large portion. Additionally, note the end of this opening line in the press release (emphasis added): “Groupe Renault and Brilliance China Automotive Holdings Limited (Brilliance) have confirmed signing a contract for the formation of a joint venture to manufacture and sell light commercial vehicles (LCV) under the Jinbei, Renault and Huasong brands with the goal of achieving 150,000 sales annually by 2022 and an acceleration of electrifying powertrains.“
Renault, as a reminder, currently sells a fair number of Kangoo ZE light-duty vans, and is gearing up to release the Master ZE pretty soon. The company is also trialling a number of other electric offerings, including an all-electric refrigerated produce delivery truck.
“The new JV will be known as Renault-Brilliance-Jinbei Automotive Co., Ltd. with manufacturing operations in the Dadong District of Shenyang and will locally produce three key segments—MPVs, medium vans and heavy vans. The Chinese LCV market is reaching upwards of 3 million units annually,” the press release adds.
Reuters provides some more context worthy of consideration: “Ford Motor Co is overhauling its China plans in order to reinvigorate its business in the world’s biggest auto market which has struggled to grow this year. As part of that review, Ford will likely focus on electric commercial vans — a shift that fits well with the company’s reckoning that a best play globally for electrification and autonomous driving might be in commercial and delivery vehicles.”
Is this segment still underserved? Are the offerings from Renault, Nissan, StreetScooter, and a few others well below the demand electric vehicles in the segment could attract today?
With regard to the Renault-Brilliance-Jinbei Automotive Co joint venture, Renault will be acquiring a 49% stake in Brilliance’s current LCV unit Shenyang Brilliance Jinbei Automobile Co (SBJ). So, essentially, SBJ will now be 51% owned by Brilliance China and 49% owned by Renault.