By on May 25, 2016

2016 Mitsubishi Outlander

A top Nissan executive is packing his bags and getting ready to take on Mitsubishi’s shadowy and scandal-prone technology arm.

Yesterday’s reports proved true, with Mitsuhiko Yamashita, Nissan’s chief technology adviser, announced today as Mitsubishi’s new head of research and development. He will take on the position starting June 24.

There’s a tough job waiting for Yamashita.

The executive needs to reform the division responsible for causing the current fuel economy scandal, as well as a past quality-related scandal. The current controversy led to the resignation of president Tetsuro Aikawa, caused share prices to drop by half, and forced the automaker to turn over control to sometimes partner Nissan.

Yamashita’s new gig comes as details emerge about how the Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance took shape.

According to Reuters, Mitsubishi CEO Osamu Masuko visited Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn for an “uncharacteristically frank” meeting:

“Masuko was brutally open. He admitted to the need to reform Mitsubishi’s tech arm,” one Mitsubishi Group executive said.

Masuko told Ghosn that the tech department, based 250 km (155 miles) from the firm’s Tokyo headquarters, was “secretive” – even after the department came under fire a decade earlier for covering up defects. He said he needed help there.

“Mr. Masuko recognized this as a problem,” said another of the executives. “The fact that he says such things frankly is what makes Ghosn like him.”

The two companies partnered on a Japanese market minicar — the first vehicle caught up in the fuel economy scandal.

As the new governance model takes shape (Nissan still needs to appoint a chairman and one-third of the board of directors), Mitsubishi’s balance sheet is in bad shape.

The automaker announced a scandal-caused loss of 19.1 billion yen ($174 million) for the year ending in March, pushing net profits down by 39 percent. There’s no forecast for the current year.

[Source: Reuters] [Image: Mitsubishi Motors]

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