What Ford Might Learn From Renault

As the U.S. car maker prepares to separate out its electric-vehicle business in its accounts as ‘Model e,’ a more radical corporate split across the Atlantic holds lessons

Ford has a lot riding on the electric version of its best-selling F-150 pickup truck. WSJ’s Nora Eckert visited Ford’s Experience Center outside Detroit for an exclusive ride in the F-150 Lightning to see how the auto maker aims to win over both early adopters and more of its gas pickup drivers. Illustration: Reshad Malekzai/WSJ

Renault’s plan for an electric-vehicle spinoff tends to get more attention, but the French auto maker’s internal-combustion-engine carve-out might generate more shareholder value in the foreseeable future. It is a case study in corporate transition worth watching as Ford moves tentatively down a similar road.

On Tuesday, Renault gave a full account of a radical restructuring it has had in the works for months. It is separating out its EV business with a view toward a minority initial public offering in the second half of next year, depending on market conditions. And it is creating a new ICE powertrain company in partnership with Chinese automotive investor Geely. Between these two extremes lie Renault’s core businesses of manufacturing and financing traditional vehicles in Europe and emerging markets, which it will wholly own within a new reporting structure.

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