PARIS -- Renault-Nissan (IW 1000/80) and Mitsubishi (IW 1000/219) announced on Tuesday that they will share the production of vehicles, technology and factory capacity of the development of electric cars.
Renault-Nissan is the second-biggest French controlled auto-maker after PSA Peugeot Citroen, which is in difficulty, undergoing deep restructuring, and is believed to be seeking new alliances and shareholders.
Mitsubishi was for a long time interested in expanding its agreements with PSA, although since 2003 it has been cooperating in Asia with Nissan of Japan.
In 2011, the two companies created a joint company called NMKV to develop "kei cars", small cars which are highly popular in Japan.
Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corp.(MFTBC) and Nissan Motors had also signed an outline agreement covering light trucks in Japan.
The companies said that under the new upgraded agreement between Renault-Nissan and Mitsubishi, "it is expected that the existing NMKV joint-venture company will be extended to co-develop a new small-segment car including a specific electric version that can be sold on a global basis.
"The basis for this product will be from a jointly-developed 'Kei car' platform of the type popular in the Japanese domestic market."
The two groups were also determined "to share technologies and product assets related to electric vehicles and latest-generation platforms," the statement said. A spokesman said that this meant the negotiations were now under way but that the details had not yet been worked out.
However the statement said that the two groups were thinking of developing two saloon cars based on Renault models which would be sold under the Mitsubishi name.The first of these, a compact car, would probably be built in a Renault-Samsung factory at Busan in South Korea for the US and Canadian markets.
The chief executive of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, Carlos Ghosn said: "Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors have jointly benefited from several collaborations in the past, most recently the successful joint-venture on Kei cars in Japan.
"I welcome the direction being taken towards this broader cooperation, creating new opportunities for Renault in addition to further leveraging the productive relationship between Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors."
The president of Mitsubishi Motors Corp.Masuko, commented: "Mitsubishi Motors is pleased to work again with Nissan and now Renault towards achieving further collaborations."
A Mitsubishi spokesman said however the companies are not considering taking cross shareholdings, like Renault and Nissan have with Germany's Daimler. The spokesman added that the partnership with Renault-Nissan would not affect Mitsubishi Motor's cooperation with PSA. Mitsubishi furnishes PSA electric vehicles that it sells under the Peugeot and Citroen names. They also share a SUV factory in Russia.
The two companies had considered in 2010 a closer relationship with a tie-up of capital, but in the end PSA chose to form an alliance with General Motors of the United States.
Mitsubishi will profit more from the alliance as it is a relative minnow in the global auto manufacturing business with less than 1 million vehicles sold last year, said Carlos da Silva, an analyst at IHS Automotive.
"Mitsubishi Motors is specialized in SUVs and in Asia. It isn't sufficiently big or international," he said.
But this partnership with allow it to reinforce its position in the United States and benefit from economies of scale in using shared platforms, added da Silva.
Nissan has just issued a profits warning which caused its shares to plunge on the Tokyo stock market on Tuesday.
-Elodie Mazein, AFP
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2013