PSA To Tie The Knot With Mitsubishi

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

Renault has its Nissan. Jealous PSA seeks the company of a pretty Japanese bride of its own. Mitsubishi Motors Corp. confirmed to the Nikkei [sub] today that it is in talks with PSA Peugeot-Citroen about some financial shibari. The capital tie-up could see PSA take a majority position in Mitsubishi Motors.

“We have been talking whether we can have deeper relationship, and a capital tie-up is one among many options,” said a Mitsubishi Motors spokesman, declining to comment on the scale or value of any potential deal. The Nikkei [sub] reported earlier Thursday that PSA could buy a stake of 30 percent to 50 percent in Mitsubishi Motors and become its biggest shareholder.

The nampa between Mitsubishi and PSA had been off an on since 1999. Last September, PSA and Mitsubishi Motors signed a deal to allow the French company to start selling electric vehicles in Europe before the end of 2010. In October, Peugeot chief executive Philippe Varin said his company will have four small electric vehicles ready for sale in 2010, including two small city cars. One of these will be based on a vehicle Peugeot-Citroen will buy from Mitsubishi.

Apparently, the petting has progressed to third base.

PSA’s CEO had made noises recently that the Peugeot family may approve of a dalliance or alliance with another automotive group, provided that it creates value for Peugeot-Citroen shareholders and doesn’t impinge on its independence. Any deal would also need a “hai” from Mitsubishi Corp. and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., which have respective stakes of 14 percent and 15.6 percent in the Japanese auto maker.

The Mitsubishi group would be open to the PSA Peugeot Citroen Group taking a majority stake in Mitsubishi Motors Corp. an executive related to the matter said later on Thursday to the Nikkei [sub]

A “senior official of a major Mitsubishi group firm that owns Mitsubishi Motors preferred shares” (how about that for protecting a source) said to the Nikkei that “We are aware that, given the tough global competition, Mitsubishi Motors, which turns out about 1 million vehicles a year, would not be able to survive on its own.”

As for the possibility of Peugeot taking a majority stake, the executive said “It is natural to suppose so.”

As far as dalliances with gaijin carmakers go, Mitsubishi has been around the block a few times. 1971, a significant stake in the company was sold to Chrysler. Daimler-Chrysler was a controlling shareholder between 2000 and 2005.

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href=""> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href=""> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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  • Mr Carpenter Mr Carpenter on Dec 03, 2009

    Of course, old Rambler drivers still exist. Remember how popular Rambler "cross country" bog slow, six cylinder station wagons were in the late 1950's and early 1960's? The spiritual successors of these Rambler owners (and some of the actual original Rambler buyers) now buy Subaru station wagons. Think about it. Functional. Check. Not stylish. Check. Versatile. Check. Good traction (i.e. some of the largest sellers of "Twin Grip" limited slip differentials in the 1960's and all wheel drive in the 1990's/2000's). Check. Family friendly. Check. Not generally oversized/smaller than average. Check. It's all there if you look.

  • Mr Carpenter Mr Carpenter on Dec 03, 2009

    A three way merger of Suzuki, Mitsubishi and PSA would make a lot of sense, too. Suzuki is HUGE in India (via Maruti), one of the top growth areas in the world. A merged Suzuki-Mitsubishi-PSA effort in China would be HUGE. Mitsubishi and Suzuki could merge sales operations in the USA which would give both of them sufficient dealership coverage. Plus the electric cars could be eventually built, if demand existed, in the USA. A new Mitsubishi Galant based upon the latest 408 Peugeot would be really nice.... it would need to be built in Mitsubishi's Normal, Illinois plant to save on Euro-to-Dollar losses. In the USA, Suzuki could be lower priced and sporty cars and small SUVs while Mitsubishi could be enviro-and upmarket cars and crossovers, with Peugeot flavoring on the larger cars. Then as the economy improves in the USA, bring back Peugeot (built in Normal) as an up-market brand sold by all Suzuki-Mitsubishi-Peugeot dealers in the USA and Canada. For the USA: Suzuki/Peugeot dealers: Suzuki Swift SX4 Kizashi Grand Vitara Peugeot 308 (Brazilian built?) 408 (US built, Suzuki Kizashi 4 cyl.) 5008 (mpv) (US built, Suzuki Kizashi 4 cyl.) 608 (New/US built/based on a lengthened/widened 408 + Suzuki 3.6 V6?) Mitsubishi Dealers: MiEV i Colt Lancer Evo Galant ZT (408 based, Kizashi 4 cyl., US built) RVR Outlander Triton Delica