Daimler AG is expanding its cooperation with Renault SA and Nissan Motor Co. to develop electric cars in a race to meet tightening emission reduction rules.
Daimler's research chief, Thomas Weber, told Reuters in an interview its cooperation with Renault and Nissan "will be expanded to include all three partners as far as electric motors, batteries and powertrains are concerned".
France's Renault, its Japanese partner Nissan and Daimler signed a cooperation deal in April initially focusing on small cars, light commercial vehicles and engines.
The cooperation included so far the next-generation Smart ForTwo and Renault Twingo models, as well as the electric versions of the cars, plus the expansion of the Smart and Twingo model lines.
Car emission standards are becoming stricter to fight global warming. Brussels targets an overall level of about 95 grams of CO2 per kilometer by 2020 for new cars sold in Europe.
"We won't be able to meet the target of 95 grams CO2 in 2020 without electric vehicles with batteries and fuel cells," Weber said.
Daimler has decided to broaden its existing partnership with Renault and Nissan, hoping to cut costs by building scale.
Daimler said it aims to sell 150,000 to 200,000 zero-emission passenger cars in Europe by 2020. The carmaker sold just over a million cars overall last year.
Sales of premium carmakers like Daimler are driven by soaring demand from China as living standards rise in the world's most populous nation.
As a result, Daimler plans to produce more cars in China and to broaden its cooperation with German peer BMW to include purchasing car parts in China, Weber said.