TOKYO -- Japanese carmaker Mitsubishi Motors Corp. Chief Executive Rolf Eckrodt may resign to take responsibility for the company's poor performance, a senior official at a Mitsubishi group company said Wednesday.
"There is a possibility that he will step down to take responsibility for the company's poor business performance," the official, who asked not to be identified, told Reuters.
He declined to elaborate.
The German monthly publication Manager Magazin reported on its Web site Tuesday that Andreas Renschler, head of DaimlerChrysler AG's Smart car division, was expected to take the helm of Japan's fourth-largest automaker by year end.
DaimlerChrysler, which owns 37 percent of Mitsubishi Motors, will decide on the change by the summer, the magazine said.
Spokesmen at DaimlerChrysler and Mitsubishi denied that Eckrodt, enlisted 20 months ago to steer a debt-laden, scandal-hit Mitsubishi back to health, would step down.
An industry source said Mitsubishi Motors was likely to make some kind of announcement Thursday, most likely to revise down its earnings forecasts when it unveils sales figures for the October-December third quarter.
The source said the announcement would not touch on Eckrodt's future, but that Mitsubishi would likely announce a new chairman to replace Takashi Sonobe, who died in October.
Japanese business daily Nihon Keizai said this week that poor sales in the United States would push Mitsubishi's group operating loss to about 100 billion yen ($946.8 million) for the year to the end of March -- what was meant to be the final year of three years of restructuring.
That would be more than double the $426 million oss projected three months ago and would be a far cry from the $783 million profit booked last year.
Battered by loan control problems at its North American finance unit, Mitsubishi has sold some of its holdings in its truck affiliate to DaimlerChrysler and is expected to tap the German-U.S. auto giant and other big shareholders for more funds in March.