Most equity alliances between automakers have ended badly over the past two decades, yet the attraction never seems to die.
Now tie-ups are in vogue again, in some quarters. Volkswagen recently acquired a stake of almost 20 percent in Suzuki, and Renault-Nissan and Daimler are exploring ways to share vehicle underpinnings and components to lower r&d spending.
Mitsubishi and PSA Peugeot Citroen have been in talks, although they failed this month to agree on terms of a capital alliance.
Mitsubishi, which fell out with DaimlerChrysler six years ago, may have learned from past mistakes. Some analysts say Mitsubishi needs a partner to share development costs for advanced technologies. But Mitsubishi President Osamu Masuko last week challenged the view that a partnership was necessary for its survival.
Honda is one automaker that's definitely sitting out the courtship dance. Fumihiko Ike, head of Honda's Asia & Oceania operations, said the company would shun such partnerships after its short-lived capital tie-up with Britain's Rover in the 1990s.
"Pursuing bigger volumes is certainly one way of lowering costs," Ike said last week. "But in reality, making cars isn't that simple. It's very difficult for two companies to work together toward a common goal. On paper you might end up with the volumes, but in other ways, you get huge inefficiencies."