Q&A: 'We almost saw the Germans as invaders'

Mitsubishi boss talks about life before and after DaimlerChrysler

In April Yoichiro Okazaki was charged with reviving Mitsubishi Motors after DaimlerChrysler refused to finance a rescue package for the struggling Japanese automaker.

Okazaki, aged 61, was previously managing director of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Okazaki talked to Automobilwoche's Rainer Kšhler about life at Mitsubishi after the sudden DaimlerChrysler pull out.

How deep-seated was the trauma after Stuttgart's U-turn?

It came as a shock, but in a way also as a relief. The Germans wanted to relegate us to a sub-department of their global plans. At times we almost started to perceive them as invaders. Now we have to find our identity again. We even have to start afresh with our image.

What about future co-operation with DaimlerChrysler?

Technologically, we undoubtedly profited from DaimlerChrysler. We should keep on cooperating where it is profitable for both of us, but of course with separate accounts. That's the difference.

Does this also apply to the Colt and the Smart ForFour?

There are about 100 common teams in four basic projects. The hottest issue is coming to terms - preferably by the end of this year - over ownership of the Nedcar plant in the Netherlands, where the Colt and the Smart are rolling off the production line. MMC is prepared to share its 100 percent ownership, we can even talk about a DaimlerChrysler majority of maybe 51 percent.

This would bring in cash, but do you need new models urgently?

We want to concentrate on our strength of being sporty. With this in mind, 16 new models will be launched in Japan, ten in Europe and seven in North America by 2007. Contrary to what DaimlerChrysler wanted, we will also offer compact cars again, because they do well in Japan.

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