TOKYO - Is Mitsubishi Motors Corp. keeping up with the Ghosns?
Now that Carlos Ghosn, COO for Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., has laid out his 'revival plan' for Japan's second-largest carmaker, attention is shifting to Mitsubishi.
When President Katsuhiko Kawasoe announces Mitsubishi's fiscal first-half earnings Thursday, Nov. 25, he is expected to provide a status report on his Renewal Mitsubishi 2001 plan for fixing the troubled automaker.
Japanese press reports have speculated that Kawasoe could unveil a host of new, Ghosn-like restructuring initiatives. Analysts said that is unlikely, however.
'I'm not expecting a whole lot more. They'll say they're doing better than expected and will stay the course,' predicted Stephen Usher, auto analyst for Jardine Fleming Securities (Asia) Ltd. in Tokyo.
Mitsubishi's sales have held up relatively well in Japan's weak market, thanks to its presence in minivehicles, the one segment that has sold strongly. In the United States, meanwhile, Mitsubishi sales in the first 10 months of 1999 were 8 percent higher than in all of 1998.
Among the actions speculated by the Japanese media were the separating of the minivehicle operations and other car operations now that Mitsubishi has said it will spin off its commercial truck business to a new unit that will be owned 20 percent by Volvo AB.
Reports also speculated - again - that Mitsubishi would close its Australian plant. Mitsubishi repeatedly has denied any plans to shutter it.
Nonetheless, the plant is severely underused. That could change if the Diamantes built in Australia were sold in Japan. But that would entail job losses in Japan rather than Australia. So far, Mitsubishi's restructuring, unlike Nissan's, has put the burden of job losses on overseas affiliates, not on Japan operations.