TOKYO (Bloomberg) -- Nissan Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. will set up a 50-50 joint company next year to develop minicars that may become strategic models sold globally.
The minicar would be available for sale in 2012 under the agreement, while Nissan will supply a light van and wagon to Mitsubishi in Japan.
Mitsubishi will sell a sport-utility vehicle to Nissan in the Middle East, the automakers said in a joint statement on Tuesday.
“This agreement is important for Nissan as it supports our expansion in emerging markets, meets immediate capacity needs overseas and enables us to grow our minicar business in Japan,” Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said in a statement.
The partnership gives the manufacturers greater economies of scale while allowing them to enter market segments with less investment.
The two carmakers already cooperate by supplying minicars, with engines no larger than 660cc, and commercial vehicles.
Possible EV tie-up
Nissan, which makes the Leaf electric car, and Mitsubishi, which sells the i-MiEV, are in talks about possibly cooperating on electric vehicles, the automakers said.
“The alliance of the two automakers seems to be a good one as we can expect more cooperation in electric vehicles going forward,” said Takeshi Miyao, an analyst at consulting company Carnorama in Tokyo.
Ghosn said that no details have been decided on electric car cooperation with Mitsubishi Motors. Mitsubishi Motors President Osamu Masuko said it is possible that the minicars could become a global strategic model.
Nissan currently produces the Lancer Cargo commercial vehicle for Mitsubishi, which in turn builds the Minicab, Town Box, eKWagon and Pajero Mini models for the larger carmaker.
Mitsubishi Motors plans to build Nissan's Navara pickup truck at its factory in Thailand and the automakers are evaluating a plan to collaborate on manufacturing and engineering for a new one-ton pickup, the automakers said Tuesday.
“The expansion of the agreement will complement each other's regional characteristics and product lineup and the one- ton pickup and minicar projects will be the best solution to strengthen each other's competitiveness,” Mitsubishi Motors' Masuko said.
Mitsubishi has a partnership with PSA/Peugeot-Citroen, while Nissan and Renault SA share projects with Daimler AG, the world's second-biggest luxury carmaker.