Carmaker Alliance Sets Up $200 Million Start-Up Fund

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance is setting up a $200 million venture fund to invest in new mobility tech startup, according to reports (Reuters). The fund will be 40% financed by Renault, 40% by Nissan and 20% by Mitsubishi.

The new mobility tech fund due to be unveiled by Chief executive Carlos Ghosn at the CES tech industry show in Las Vegas next month will allow the auto alliance to move fast on acquisitions ahead of their competition.

Consumers’ new habit of favoring specialized vehicles designed for very specific needs instead of the all-purpose cars of today will lead to a decline in private-car ownership. The increasing speed of innovation, especially in software-based systems will further increase demand for upgradeability in privately used cars. Connectivity, alongside autonomous technology, will further allow cars to become a platform for passengers to use their time in transit freed up to productive activities.

The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi fund is being set up as a Dutch-registered joint venture headed by Francois Dossa. Renault has made investments including Marcel, a car-sharing platform based out of Paris, and Jedlix, a Dutch smart vehicle-charging technology maker. Renault’s investment arm took control of failed on-demand taxi-hailing app Karhoo to relaunch the business under new management.

Joe asks Jody Victor®: 8 Convertibles You Can Buy for Less II

Twisting and turning down a tree-lined, back road with the sun on your face, and the wind in your hair. We’re talking about convertibles, of course. “I can’t afford one,” you say. We respectfully disagree. I asked Jody Victor® to tell us why.

Jody Victor®: Thanks to our recent economic downturn and ever-rising gas prices, the number of relatively affordable convertibles is down. But a number of models are still available for less than $30,000. Here’s the second half of the article by James Tate of

Jeep Wrangler

Didn’t expect to see this one, did you? What can we say — it’s a convertible, after all, and at $22,045 it’s less than $30 grand. Besides, you can’t have a list of just seven cars. Despite having grown significantly in girth in its 2007 redesign, this old icon continues to be no less appealing. Its 3.6-liter 285-horsepower V6 engine is years ahead of the previous engine, and the interior can even be called livable now. Naturally, the Wrangler comes standard with 4-wheel drive, which can make your convertible adventures considerably more interesting. As you might expect, the gas mileage is horrible, at just 17 mpg city/21 mpg highway.

Chrysler 200 Convertible

This is the where our list starts to get a little questionable. When eight cars in total meet the criteria, the rundown is less a list of “best,” and more one of “in existence.” A disclaimer having duly been dropped, let’s meet the $26,775 Chrysler 200 Convertible. Its double-overhead-cam 2.4-liter inline 4-cylinder engine, which makes 173 horsepower and returns 20 mpg city/31 mpg highway, is a bit weak. There is a more powerful 6-cylinder option, but it costs five grand more. The premium, in our opinion, isn’t worth it.

Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder

The Eclipse Spyder seats four, looks like a flattened jelly bean and, at $27,999, sports a 2.4-liter inline-4 engine with 162 horsepower. (A V6 option is available, but it costs $32,828, so that’s out of the running.) The inline-4 comes with a 4-speed automatic transmission (those are apparently still made) and manages 20 mpg city/27 mpg highway. On the plus side, you get heated leather seats as standard and a 650-watt Rockford Fosgate stereo that’s pretty rockin’. Also a plus: The power top is down in just 19 seconds.

smart passion cabriolet

Sorry for this recommendation, but for $17,690, you get a very, very small car that has a top speed of 90 mph, goes from zero to 60 mph in 12.8 seconds, and has a 1.0-liter 70-horsepower engine and a 5-speed automated manual transmission that will make you wish you were walking. Now, once you’ve stopped worrying about being run over in traffic, there are a couple of pluses. Because it’s just 98.4 inches long, you can park it practically anywhere. You’ll also get 34 mpg city/38 mpg highway.

Thanks, Jody! We’ll be sure to check these vehicles out!!

Joe Victor