Renault, China's Brilliance Auto form light commercial vehicle venture

BEIJING (Reuters) - Renault and Brilliance China Automotive Holdings Ltd have formed a joint venture to design and manufacture light commercial vehicles (LCVs) in China, with an aim to sell 150,000 such vehicles a year by 2022, the two firms said on Friday.

The venture, Renault-Brilliance-Jinbei Automotive Co, will have manufacturing operations in Shenyang, the provincial capital of Liaoning, they said in a joint statement.

It plans to produce and sell multi-purpose vans and commercial vans under the Jinbei, Renault and Huasong brands.

The move comes as demand in China for LCVs is expected to rise significantly, especially for electric commercial vans, which Beijing is encouraging in its polluted and congested city centers, in addition to electric cars.

Renault and Brilliance said their goal is to “achieve… an acceleration of electrifying power trains” as part of the partnership, without further elaboration.

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.

To form the new LCV JV, Renault is purchasing a 49 percent equity interest in Shenyang Brilliance Jinbei Automobile Co (SBJ), Brilliance’s existing LCV unit, they said.

SBJ is being restructured into a JV owned 51 percent by Brilliance China and 49 percent by Renault.

The companies had signed a framework cooperation agreement to pursue the formation of the JV in July.

Reporting By Norihiko Shirouzu; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu