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Mitsubishi, Nissan-Renault alliance in doubt

No go: Mitsubishi’s plans to boost its non-SUV ranks with co-developed Nissan-Renault lines has hit a snag.

US execs tell dealers that platform-sharing deal with Nissan-Renault has “stalled”

Mitsubishi logo27 Jan 2015

THE agreement between Mitsubishi Motors and the Renault-Nissan Alliance to share a new mid-size sedan appears to have foundered, barely eighteen months after its creation.

News of the rift surfaced in the United States over the weekend at a Mitsubishi dealer conference attended by senior executives.

Originally formed around a wide-ranging plan that included replacing the D-segment Galant – the basis for the final Mitsubishi product to be built in Australia, the 380 – with a new car sourced from a Nissan-Samsung plant in Korea, executive vice president of Mitsubishi Motors North America Don Swearingen has told US dealers that the plan “has stalled.”

Mr Swearingen would not clarify whether the issues preventing the partnership from moving forward were permanent or temporary, but he did tell US news site Automotive News that “all options are still open.”

Designed to supplement Mitsubishi’s range with co-designed vehicles while it concentrated its engineering efforts on new SUV and emerging electric vehicle platforms, the cessation of the alliance means that the Galant – which went off-sale in the US in 2012 – will not be replaced for at least three more years.

The partnership was also expected to result in a newly-developed C-segment car platform that would have formed the basis of a Lancer replacement. It remains unclear if the agreement to build the next-generation Lancer has also stalled or if it is still going ahead.

The Lancer enters its eighth year in Australia against increasingly younger, better-equipped competitors, with no news of a replacement on the horizon.

The two companies were also expected to share knowledge and technology based around the pair’s respective electric vehicle and plug-in hybrid programs.

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation president Osamu Masuko indicated last year that the Galant project had a higher priority than any Lancer replacement.

When he was in Australia last year, Mr Masuko said that while the C-segment market was an important one for Mitsubishi, his company believed the biggest growth would come from SUVs, and that was why it intended to focus heavily on that segment.

He said developing markets would provide the biggest growth opportunities in the next several years, indicating Mitsubishi would actively chase sales in these markets.

As late as November last year Mr Masuko was talking about both the C- and D-segment projects when he highlighted that the mid-sizer would be built for the American market, while the smaller offering would be available for any market that is keen to take it.

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