Mitsubishi will remain competitors with the Renault and Nissan brands, despite the Renault-Nissan alliance buying a 34% stake in Mitsubishi last October.
“We are competitors and we will remain competitors,… and Nissan doesn’t just want to give us their car with a new badge on it,” Mitsubishi North America’s president, Don Swearingen said during a media event last week. The partnership can be likened to that of Hyundai and Kia, which are two brands owned by the same company but with products from each one going head to head with those from the other.
“We are not integrating Mitsubishi. We are going to try and establish the sort of relationship we have between Renault and Nissan, which means we are going to try and share as many components, platforms and technologies as possible, yet Mitsubishi will be responsible for designing their own cars and remains a different company, so it’s exactly the same model we are applying to Renault and Nissan that we’ve been applying for the last 17 years,” Nissan global chief planning officer Philippe Klein told Car Advice.
Mitsubishi’s troubles with its fuel consumption test data have landed it in tough times. The automaker has lost its top two executives and also suffered financially, having RM1.9 billion allocated to compensate buyers of models affected by the manipulated test data.
To that end, Nissan CEO and Mitsubishi chairman, Carlos Ghosn has said that Mitsubishi will be fixed ‘with no shortcuts and no blind spots’, with the brand’s relatively small research and development budget taking a toll on its business in the aftermath of the aforementioned fuel efficiency scandal.
Platform sharing will allow Mitsubishi to substantially reduce operational costs, and the financial savings for both companies are substantial, said Klein. “We have already sent a list of synergies, components and technologies we are going to share and have made official some potential synergy savings for next year and the year after, it will be 24 billion yen (RM915 million) for Nissan, it’s the way we are going to work,” he said.
Regarding the three brands in the alliance, each will have their own direction. “Mitsubishi, Nissan and Renault have their own heritage, you cannot decide a brand top down, it doesn’t work, you have heritage and the vision for where it has to go. So Mitsubishi has its own strengths in some segments and countries, Nissan and Renault have their own.”
This means, according to Nissan, that the Triton will be a model of its own identity, despite sharing the same platform as the Navara and the upcoming Mercedes-Benz pick-up trucks.
“What you’re going to see is, in fact you will not see it. The main objective that we’re pursuing is that we are going to be successful if you don’t see it, yet we share components, modules, platforms. If the consumer starts to perceive that this is the same car, it’s a failure for us,” Klein said.
As for the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, it appears that the high-performance Mitsubishi sedan’s future is now in doubt, with a lack of suitable platform to be built upon. “It’s a very nice cherry on the cake, but you need to have a cake first.”