And are partnering with Aston martin F1's fuel supplier to do so.
Lotus and Volvo's parent company Geely and the Renault Group are partnering with Saudi Arabian oil conglomerate Aramco to develop synthetic fuels and next-gen hydrogen solutions, adding more OEMs to the growing number pursuing these synthetic fuels to keep the combustion engine alive.
The new powertrain technology company, called PWT, won't solely invest in synthetic fuel, though, and will instead aim to produce more than five million hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and internal combustion engines and transmissions annually.
Aramco made the announcement, stating that it will potentially become a minority stakeholder in this new venture. If you're wondering why Aramco sounds familiar, you've most likely seen its logo on the side of the Aston Martin F1 car. It also features prominently on the front and rear of the Aston Martin Vantage safety car.
This isn't the first we've heard of Aramco getting involved in such a project, as ex-Aston Martin CEO Tobias Moers previously told CarBuzz that Aramco would be assisting the sports car brand in developing carbon-neutral fuels.
"The proposed investment by Aramco represents recognition from global industry leaders in the Powertrain's future business prospects and vision for pioneering low and carbon-free fuels such as methanol and hydrogen," said Daniel Li, CEO of Geely Holding Group.
Geely and Renault will likely split the remaining stake in the new venture. However, these powertrains may not be limited to these automakers, as the new company will be a standalone supplier supplying these powertrains to more than 130 countries and regions.
Synthetic fuels - specifically recycled carbon dioxide fuels - have come into the limelight over the last few years to allow combustion-powered cars to live on. Porsche has invested in a new plant in Chile, and the first batch of fuel from the pilot plant powered a 911 as a Porsche exec drifted it on its first carbon-neutral drive. The EU's 2035 CO2 emissions ban crucially left provision for such fuels but clarified that they were not a long-term solution.
Aramco has a global network of 17 powertrain plants and five research and development centers. That makes it the perfect partner for Geely and Renault, both of which would benefit significantly from what PWT wants to create.
With Aramco playing a pivotal role in developing synthetic fuels for Formula 2 and 3 vehicles, this alternative power source will also play a significant role in the new company. It's the only realistic way to reach the ultra-low emissions goals PWT will inevitably set for its ICE powertrains.
Aramco is also working closely with Formula 1's chief technical officer to develop the 100% sustainable fuel the various teams need to start using when the 2026 engine regulations kick in.
This deal is a direct result of the reshuffled Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi Alliance, which gave Renault more freedom to shop around for partners.
Looking at the values of the various companies, there's a clear leader. Geely is privately owned and worth roughly $13.5 billion, while Renault is worth approximately $12.4 billion. As you might know, Geely is also responsible for saving Volvo and also holds majority shares in Polestar and Lotus. Earlier this month, it also established a new Lexus-like high-end brand to compete with the likes of BMW and Mercedes-Benz in China. Basically, Geely's owner Li Shufu, is not afraid to write blank cheques and gamble big.
If PWT reaches its targets, it could become an engine supplier to any automotive company that wants to continue with internal combustion while meeting strict emissions targets set by European Union and states like California.
PWT stands to make billions from synthetic fuels alone, and building the various powertrains mentioned earlier will net it a few billion more. A standard engine needs no upgrade to run on synthetic fuels, and the tailpipe emissions are offset by the fact that they are reused in the creation of this fuel.
"This partnership with Aramco will raise our joint Powertrain company together with Geely Group to the next level and give it a head start in the race towards ultra-low-emissions ICE powertrain technology," said Luca de Meo, CEO of Renault Group. "Aramco's entry brings to the table unique know-how that will help develop breakthrough innovations in the fields of synthetic fuels and hydrogen."
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