Renault might not sell any cars in the United States but that won't stop them moving into town. With partner Nissan the international group has opened a research and development office in the heart of Mountain View, Silicon Valley.

The Renault-Nissan Alliance was created in 1999 and now sells one in ten of all the cars sold worldwide.

The new office will be a centre for research and development of the group's IT technology, which comprises graphical user-interface displays, in-car internet connectivity and smart-grid research. Nissan's "Carwings" telematics system as found in the Nissan Leaf is one such example. It uses a touchscreen display to access the location of recharging stations and reports on energy consumption.

Renault-Nissan has invested heavily in electric and clean vehicle technology. The group has invested $5.4 billion in electric vehicles, the first of which was the 2011 Nissan Leaf now being sold across America and the rest of the world.

There are more on the horizon too, including an electric Infiniti premium sedan, utility vans for commercial fleets, and the tiny two-seater city EV, the Renault Twizy. Electric vehicles will be a strong focus of the new Silicon Valley office too, and it will be used to further research into charging infrastructure, on-board services and business development.

The Californian office will open later this month.