In a major break with tradition, Mitsubishi Motors Corp. raided Honda Motor Co. for an engine-development engineer.
Kenji Kimura, 52, joined Mitsubishi as project leader in charge of research and development, having left Honda R&D America in November.
He will be in charge of Mitsubishi's engine development.
It is extremely rare for a Japanese auto company to recruit an employee from a rival.
The recruiting of Kimura is significant not least because both Honda and Mitsubishi traditionally have viewed their engines as superior to rivals'. Moreover, the two companies are taking different approaches to engines.
Mitsubishi until now has bet heavily on its gasoline direct-injection engine, while Honda has continued to pursue multiple engine strategies, including adjusting existing engine technologies, as well as doing its own research on diesel engines, fuel cells and hybrid powerplants.
Kimura, however, is returning to Mitsubishi. He worked there for six years immediately after graduating from college, before he switched to Honda.