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Mitsubishi, Nissan team up on logistics in Thailand

Japanese carmakers strengthen ties under three-way alliance with Renault

Mitsubishi Motors President Osamu Masuko

MANILA -- Mitsubishi Motors has begun operating a joint logistics channel with Nissan Motor in Thailand and aims to take it global for groupwide cost savings, Mitsubishi Motors President Osamu Masuko said here Monday.

Masuko was interviewed at a production launch ceremony for the new Mirage G4 compact car. Nissan took a 34% stake in Mitsubishi Motors last October, and the duo have planned to broaden cooperation on parts procurement and sharing plants.

Joint delivery of vehicles has begun to sales outlets in Thailand, where both automakers have factories. "We don't plan to limit this to just Southeast Asia," but across the world, Masuko said.

"The larger the scale, the more we save," he said.

Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan and fellow alliance member Renault are also ranking plants in such areas as efficiency as they gear up to share production facilities. They will employ Nissan's approach of playing plants off against one another and producing vehicles at the most efficient ones.

In the meantime, Mitsubishi Motors will specialize in different types of vehicles in three Southeast Asian countries. It will focus on passenger cars in the Philippines, where it just built a new production line for the Mirage and now has a total annual output capacity of 50,000 units.

It will build mainly multipurpose vehicles in Indonesia, where a new plant is slated to start operating this spring. Some MPV production may be moved to the Philippines as well. Pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles will be the focus in Thailand.

"Using these three countries as our base, we will work to export vehicles to neighboring nations as well," Masuko said. He also expressed a hope of eventually boosting Philippine output to more than 100,000 units.

On Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn's decision to step down as CEO, "there will not be a change to the way we do business with Mr. Ghosn," Masuko said. Mitsubishi Motors controls 15% of the Philippine market, following Toyota Motor. Ghosn is said to have asked the automaker to further boost operating profit and market share, as well as service quality.

Mitsubishi Motors will soon send executives and upper managers to Nissan for the first time since the duo formed their alliance. From Nissan, Mitsuhiko Yamashita has joined Mitsubishi Motors' leadership as executive vice president for development, and Trevor Mann as chief operating officer.

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