Welcome to The Grid, R&T’s quick roundup of the auto industry and motorsports news you should know this morning.
Japanese Officials Pushed Nissan-Honda Merger
Consolidation has been the name of the game in the auto industry for some time now, but this story is nuts. The Financial Times reports that Japanese officials tried to convince Nissan and Honda to merge last year. Japan wants to prop up its auto industry, and seeing Nissan’s alliance with Renault start to sour after the arrest of Carlos Ghosn, officials thought it would be good to create a massive company by bringing together Nissan and Honda. Unsurprisingly, both Nissan and Honda executives rejected the idea immediately.
It’s hard to imagine a merger of these two. Honda is unique among automakers by remaining completely independent, and per the FT, makes most of its profit from motorcycles and engines. Nissan reportedly wanted to focus on its own turnaround plan and restrengthen the alliance with Renault. “A Nissan-Honda merger would only make sense to people who do not understand the car industry,” one Nissan exec told the FT.
Volvo Goes Electric
Volvo has offered a number of plug-in hybrids for a few years now, and soon, it’s going all in on EVs. First up is the XC40 Recharge, announced last year, which shares a number of components with the new Polestar 2 sedan. Next, per Automotive News, is a new sporty electric crossover called the C40, while an all-electric version of the XC90 is also on its way. Expect both to arrive next year.
World Endurance Championship Aims for Six-Race 2021 Season
After COVID-19 put the FIA’s World Endurance Championship (WEC) on hold, the series returned to the track this past weekend for the Spa Six Hours. Next month is Le Mans, and in 2021, the series is looking to hold a six-race season. That’s the FIA’s minimum requirement, and given uncertainty about what a post-COVID world looks like—or when we’ll even live in a post-COVID world—it seems all that’s possible. Autosport reports that the series wants to kick things off at Sebring in a double-header weekend with IMSA’s 12-hour classic.