nissan leaf interior

The fully electric Nissan Leaf is the first of many EVs Nissan and its partner Renault plan to market (Photo: Nissan)

The Renault-Nissan alliance is opening a research office in Silicon Valley to make sure it is in touch with automotive IT and other mobility-related research carried out there.

The two companies, which are connected through cross-shareholdings and work closely together on car programs, technology, purchasing and production, said they are establishing the new Mountain View, California, office "directly across from the Google campus and minutes from leading hardware and software companies."

The office, they said, will allow Renault and Nissan "to capitalize on the region's world-class engineering talent and stay ahead of trends that are reshaping the way people interact with their cars."

Employing small teams of engineers, the office will initially work on vehicle IT development, advanced engineering research and technology recruitment. A key initial focus will be graphical user-interface displays and in-car connectivity and smart-grid research.

Renault and Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, who is betting heavily on electric vehicles, claims a leading position in sustainable mobility. Nissan's Leaf electric vehicle is one of the few pure electric vehicles currently for sale.

Said Ghosn: "Having a greater footprint in one of the world's headquarters for clean tech research will extend our lead further."

Renault and Nissan are investing a combined 5.4 billion dlrs in zero-emission cars. Upcoming debuts include an Infiniti premium electric sedan, the Renault Twizy urban commuter car for Europe, and utility vans for commercial fleets.