CHIBA, Japan -- The head of Mitsubishi Motors Corp. said on Wednesday the automaker's first-half loss would likely be smaller than expected, supported by stronger sales volume than originally projected.
Mitsubishi and other Japanese automakers are likely to benefit from a weak yen against the dollar and euro in the October-March second half, with most having assumed a dollar/yen rate of 105 yen. The dollar was trading around 115.80 yen on Wednesday.
While that will likely be a big plus, Mitsubishi Chief Executive Osamu Masuko told Reuters in an interview the company had no plans to change its full-year forecast when it announces results next month for the April-September first-half.
"There is still some uncertainty for the rest of the year, particularly in markets like the United States," he said on the sidelines of the Tokyo auto show.
Masuko said sales in North America have been stalling since the end of September and looked set to stay weak this month.
But he said sales were robust in Europe, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.
While Mitsubishi has been trying to cut losses at its under-used plants by supplying vehicles to other makers through original equipment manufacturer arrangements, Masuko said the company was no longer looking for more OEM partners.
He said Mitsubishi's Mizushima plant in western Japan, where it produces minicars for the Nissan brand, was at full capacity and had had to turn down requests from Japan's second-biggest automaker to supply more.
Mitsubishi also has an agreement, signed earlier this year, with France's PSA/Peugeot-Citroen to produce SUVs under the Peugeot and Citroen brands.
Masuko acknowledged that raw material prices had risen more than initially expected, but said Mitsubishi Motors was working on a three-year cost-cutting program that seeks to reduce the number of components in a car.
"We're seeing a lot of impacts from these cost cuts, even this year," Masuko said. "We're offsetting (rising raw material costs) quite a bit."
Mitsubishi has forecast a net loss of 64 billion yen ($550 million) and an operating loss of 14 billion yen for the financial year to next March.