2004 Beijing Motor Show: Part IV Page 2

June 11, 2004

Last gasp for Mitsubishi?

With its key Japanese and American markets in disarray and finances near collapse, Mitsubishi is counting on China to help it pull back from the abyss. The automaker is reportedly searching for new options in its Asian neighbor’s booming market.

2003 Mitsubishi Outlander

2003 Mitsubishi Outlander

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Yet its fate remains tightly tied to a reluctant partner. While DaimlerChrysler is effectively divorcing itself from Mitsubishi in most matters, the two manufacturers expect to stay partners indefinitely in China. The Beijing Jeep plant currently produces two Mitsubishi models, including the new Outlander. And DaimlerChrysler will soon begin producing Chinese versions of small C- and D-segment passenger cars developed jointly by Mitsubishi and Chrysler. Specific production plans will be announced “in two to three months,” Roman Fischer, CEO of DaimlerChrysler China, announced Thursday. Whatever plans DCX has, it appears likely, industry sources report, that Mitsubishi will seek its own Chinese partner to produce versions of those passenger cars that it can sell separately.



Who do you love?

In China, car manufacturing, like politics, makes for strange bedfellows. And often several of them. Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co. (BAIHC) — pronounced like “bike” — has four different carmaking joint ventures going, its partners including both DaimlerChrysler, with Beijing Jeep, and Hyundai. But that won’t stop the Chinese company, which was founded in 1958, from looking around. “Of course, we’re looking for more partners,” said BAIHC President Dong Yang during the Automotive News China Congress in Beijing. For one thing, his company would like to have help meeting its long-term goal of exporting cars to the West. But how do you balance these relationships, especially where you might be tied to partners that see themselves as bitter rivals? “Very easy,” declared Dong. “We don’t believe in eternal friendship. We believe in eternal interests.”

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