Mitsubishi Mitsubishi left at the altar again GoAuto

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Mitsubishi left at the altar again

Gallic i-MiEV: The Peugeot iOn — based on Mitsubishi’s electric i-MiEV — will go on sale in Europe at the end of this year, alongside Citroen’s version, the C-Zero.

Peugeot-Citroen scraps proposal to buy into Mitsubishi, but still wants to share EVs

11 March 2010

MITSUBISHI Motors and PSA Peugeot-Citroen have called off their impending nuptials, but still plan to share more offspring.

While the two car-makers have canned a deeper alliance that would have involved Peugeot-Citroen buying a slice of Mitsubishi, they have signed off on a deal for Mitsubishi to supply 100,000 electric cars based on the forthcoming Mitsubishi i-MiEV to be rebadged as the Peugeot iOn and Citroen C-Zero starting late this year.

The companies had been in discussions since last year over a possible capital alliance that would have created another Japanese-European conglomerate, similar to Renault-Nissan.

But the scheme was scrapped after talks at the Geneva motor show between Peugeot-Citroen chief executive Philippe Varin and Mitsubishi president Osamu Masuko, with the French contingent seemingly getting cold feet over the prospect of propping up the Japanese motor company.

Peugeot-Citroлn and Mitsubishi said in a joint statement that they would seek to expand their partnership, but concluded that a capital alliance was not appropriate in the current circumstances .

From top: The Citroen C-Zero, Mitsubishi i_MiEV, and Peugeot 4007.

Mr Varin told reporters his company did not want to enter into a capital alliance that might put its improved financial situation into question, and in particular harm its debt ratings.

In terms of our debt and our borrowing power, it s clear that whatever we do, the priority must be to preserve our financial solidity, he said.

European reports speculated that Peugeot-Citroen had considered buying a stake of between 30 and 50 per cent of Mitsubishi, costing up to 2.4 billion ($A3.6b). The joint venture would have created the world s sixth largest motor company with combined sales of about 4.4 million.

Peugeot-Citroen s apparent decision to leave Mitsubishi at the altar is seen as more hurtful to the Japanese company, which has tried for years to find a long-term partner to help it compete with global giants such as Toyota, Volkswagen, General Motors, Ford and Renault-Nissan.

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Mitsubishi s global sales have fallen by more than half over the past decade as the company struggled through failed relationships with companies such as Chrysler.

However, the product-sharing relationship Peugeot-Citroen will remain in place for now, with the companies jointly announcing this week that its electric vehicle (EV) deal dating from a framework agreement signed in September 2009 had been finalised.

Production of the 100,000 EVs for Europe will start in October for a late 2010 sales launch and be sold 50-50 by Peugeot and Citroen. Neither French vehicle is likely to be sold in the short term in Australia, where the Mitsubishi i-MiEV is scheduled to hit the market in small numbers in the second half of this year.

Because of lithium-on battery shortages, Mitsubishi Motors is expecting to produce only 9000 units of i-MiEV this year, but hopes to double that next year to 18,000 before ramping up to 55,000 a year, shared between PSA and Mitsubishi.

Apart from the shared EV, Mitsubishi already supplies the Outlander-based Peugeot 4008 and Citroen C-Crosser twins for Europe, and the two organisations are building a shared factory in Russia.

Meanwhile, Mitsubishi today announced an agreement with its Swiss distributor, MM Automobile Schweiz AG, and Switzerland’s largest electricity provider, Alpiq Holding AG, to jointly promote i-MiEV in Switzerland.

The companies will work together to confirm the viability of electric vehicles and Japanese-developed quick-charger units in Switzerland.

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