Mitsubishi is on the verge of reversing its decision to exit Europe amid mounting pressure from its Renault and Nissan partners, according to the Financial Times.
Last July, Mitsubishi halted the introduction of new models to Europe as part of a shift in focus to the more lucrative Asian market. Under its new Small but Beautiful operating strategy, the Japanese brand planned to reduce fixed costs by 20% over two years and "improve operating profit by downsizing low-profit businesses".
Now, the FT reports, Mitsubishi could shift production of some European-market models to Renault factories in France, citing internal sources at the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance with "direct knowledge of the matter".
A preliminary agreement is said to have been reached by the three companies yesterday (22 February), with a final decision due to be made at a Mitsubishi board meeting on Thursday 25 February. The deal "may still fall apart" according to the newspaper's sources, with Alliance discussions on the matter described as "fractious".
It's said that bosses at Mitsubishi (34% owned by Nissan, in which Renault holds a 43% stake) don't want French politics to influence the strategy of the Alliance and could now face accusations of bowing to pressure from the French government (which owns 15% of Renault) to preserve jobs.
A Mitsubishi spokesman said the brand has no comment to offer on the speculation.
Such a move would serve as a lifeline for Mitsubishi's UK retail network, the Colt Car Company. Some dealerships had begun preparing to transition to an aftersales-only offering but could now be given the opportunity to order more stock from the firm, while others - the FT says - have already sold their premises.
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