By on May 24, 2016

Mitsuhiko Yamashita

In this play, Nissan is President Jimmy Carter and Mitsubishi is a bankrupt New York City.

Now that it has control of Mitsubishi, Nissan wants the scandal-plagued automaker to “heal thyself,” but it’s sending a guy over to make sure it happens, sources tell Reuters.

People close to the automaker say Nissan plans to put its longtime research and development head in charge of reforming the troubled Mitsubishi. The appointment of Mitsuhiko Yamashita as Mitsubishi tech chief is said to be in its final stages.

The automaker hasn’t confirmed the plan.

Mitsuhiko Yamashita was in charge of product and technology research and development at Nissan between 2005 and 2014. His move to tech chief at Mitsubishi could come as early as Wednesday’s emergency board meeting.

After buying a 34 percent stake (at a rock-bottom price) in its former rival, Nissan can appoint a chairman and nominate representatives to its board of directors.

Mitsubishi’s vehicle sales and stock value took a hit after it admitted to fudging fuel economy ratings for Japanese-market vehicles since 1991. With financial fallout growing, rebuilding the company’s reputation and sales figures won’t be easy.

The turnaround of the brand won’t happen under president Tetsuro Aikawa, who came on board two years ago to do exactly that. Aikawa announced his resignation last week, with former president and CEO Osamu Masuko taking charge until a new top dog shows up.

Lots of top executives take the fall for their company’s wrongdoings (some would say not enough), but in Aikawa’s case, the distance between himself and the scandal is razor thin.

Aikawa headed the research and design division that issued false fuel economy ratings (by using American testing standards). He also served as lead engineer for the thirsty eK minicar that first tipped off regulators to the scandal.

“He was in the development section for a long time,” Tokyo auto analyst Takaki Nakanishi told Automotive News. “It had a long history of compliance issues.”

[Image: Nissan]

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10 Comments on “Paging Dr. Yamashita: Nissan Wants its Former Tech Head to Cure a Sick Misubishi...”

  • avatar

    First, get rid of all their shi**y engines. There’s a reason that the now-defunct all-Japanese junkyard near my town has “ENGINE REPLACEMENTS SPECIALIZING IN MITSUBISHI AND MAZDA” in huge, nicely-done hand-painted lettering on their corrugated steel fence.

    • 0 avatar

      I feel like the fact it went out of business tells you something about the state of Mazda and Mitsubishi engines.

      • 0 avatar

        Actually they went out of business because the town they’re in got all hoity-toity and zoned all the junkyards out of existence. It’s a shame, too, since I had frequented all of them in the past. One is now covered in McMansions, another is vacant land waiting for McMansions, while this one is still there, minus the cars, which have all been crushed. Its property is less desirable, as it’s flood prone – it’ll take a lot of truckloads of fill dirt to raise the grade and make it something that someone would want to build on.

        The big honky-tonk dance hall (the Ranch House) is still there, but I’ll bet they’d like to see it gone, too.

  • avatar

    At least here in America the outlook is fairly bleak. I’m not sure they can fill the pipeline with anything remotely interesting to truly kick start their presence here again. The nation is in love with CUVs and SUVs, but nothing Mitsubishi has seems to stand out enough to really matter. Maybe I’m seeing things through rose-colored glasses, but I recall a time when it seemed that Mitsubishi at least had some semblance of being desirable with an air of technology to it. Now, it just seems they are relegated to a bottom-tier “also ran” manufacturer. Can they truly survive if all they offer is low-rent vehicles? Even those that shop “low rent” seem to avoid Mitsu these days. And this coming from a guy who has owned three Mitsubishi products (well, two were captive imports, so not sure that counts!).

  • avatar

    You’ve got the wrong character in your play. It wasn’t Carter, it was Ford in ’75. Carter was the ultimate beneficiary of the famous “Ford to city: drop dead” headline.

  • avatar

    The solution for Mitsubishi is soo easy they cannot fail: get the Outlander Phev drivetrain, increase its battery capacity and put it in each and every model they sell or plan to sell in the next years. If they really want to excel, they may also change the ICE part or add a two speed gear on the motors, for heavy duty off-road capability.

    But really, with that drivetrain they are onto something, they MUST exploit it.

  • avatar

    Here’s a solution, Mitsubishi…one from your history books.

    Turbocharge EVERYTHING.

  • avatar

    My Mitsubishi Recovery Plan.

    Basically, be the Japanese Pontiac.

    Step one: make well designed, good looking CUVs , and make them reliable. Right now speed doesn’t matter.

    Wait five years.

    Then make a well, designed, good looking sedan. Name it the Galant. Make it reliable, and don’t worry about the speed.

    Wait another five years.

    Then make a well designed, good looking 3000GT. Take the engine that’s been made for the last ten years,twin turbocharge it, and drop it in with an AWD chassis + 6 speed manual. No SMGs, no DSGs , no paddle shifted timebomb transmissions.

  • avatar

    Maybe, just maybe they’ll survive… They have some heritage to build on with Evos and Pajeros known around the world. I’ve actually seen the last model year of Montero (not Sport, but regular one) in pristine condition and i love the way it looks. The only other SUV in my mind that comes close is the 1991-1993 Land Cruiser, but those are hard to find as well with low mileage…

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