Nissan says that its approach with newly acquired Japanese brand Mitsubishi is to leverage scale in manufacturing and parts in order to increase profit margins, not to make clones of its existing cars with different badges.
Speaking to CarAdvice at the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas today, Nissan’s global chief planning officer, Philippe Klein, said the integration with Mitsubishi would be deemed a failure if customers could perceive the two brands were the same.
“We are not integrating Mitsubishi.” Klein said.
“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.”
The problems facing Mitsubishi are well documented, with the brand having recently announced the axing of its Lancer small car – now a decade old – in the US market, without an immediate replacement. (The current Lancer will continue in Australia and elsewhere.)
The once mighty Japanese brand’s focus on electric cars and limited R&D budget post the GFC has had a long-lasting negative effect on the business that Nissan CEO and now Mitsubishi chairman Carlos Ghosn says will be fixed ‘with no shortcuts and no blind spots’.
Klein says the financial savings for both companies are substantial and platform sharing will allow Mitsubishi to substantially reduce operational costs.
“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’s] 24b yen ($280 million) for Nissan, it’s the way we are going to work.”
As for how Nissan will position the brand within its portfolio?
“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.”
Sadly, it appears that the future of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is for now in doubt, with no new suitable platform for it to exist on.
“It’s a very nice cherry on the cake, but you need to have a cake [first].”
The next-generation Triton, however, will share the same platform as the Nissan Navara and upcoming Mercedes-Benz Ute, however, just like the German variant, Nissan says the Triton will be its own car.
“What you’re going to see is, in fact you will not see it. The main objective that we pursue 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. This is what... we have 17 years of experience with Renault with that, we have some very good successes and some more difficulties”.
Ghosn said that Mitsubishi will soon make an announcement as to its future and its collaboration with Nissan-Renault alliance.
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