TIANJIN Nissan Motor is open to a green car alliance with Chinese automakers, a senior executive said on Saturday, as it moves to tap the fledgling industry in the world's largest auto market.
Nissan, 44 percent held by Renault SA, is joining General Motors and others in the race for green vehicles which industry observers say could be the next industry gold mine.
"It's impossible to develop electric vehicles alone. Joint effort is a more feasible solution," Yasuaki Hashimoto, president of Nissan China Investment Co, said in an interview on the sidelines of an industry event in the northern municipality of Tianjin.
When asked whether Nissan was interested in being part of a green vehicle alliance, made up of 16 Chinese state auto groups, Hashimoto said: "We are open to all options."
"Mr Li had also said the alliance won't stop at the existing 16 member companies only. It can be expanded," Hashimoto said, referring to Li Rongrong, head of China's state asset watchdog who has recently retired.
Nissan, which runs an auto venture with Dongfeng Motor Group, had earlier signed a deal with the municipal government of Wuhan to jointly promote its electric vehicle Leaf in the central Chinese city.
That would be one of the Japanese automaker's priorities in China next year, said Tsunehiko Nakagawa, vice president of Nissan China Investment.
Beijing launched a pilot scheme in five Chinese cities in the middle of this year to subsidize green car buyers, with handouts ranging from 3,000 yuan ($439.6) for fuel-saving models to 60,000 yuan for electric cars as it moves to cut fuel emission in the world's second largest economy.
The government may have more work to do to bolster demand for green models, such as standardizing industry specifications and building up a charging station network in the country, said Hashimoto.
Other foreign automakers are also on the move.
GM.UL plans to launch its Chevy Volt next year in China, its biggest market, while Ford Motor and Volkswagen AG are also speeding up their effort of improve fuel-efficiency of their models.
(Reporting by Fang Yan and Ken Wills, editing by Mike Peacock)