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Mitsubishi bullish on PH

TOKYO—Japanese automotive manufacturer Mitsubishi Motors Corp. is pursuing the production of Mirage and Mirage G4 vehicles in the Philippines, despite its recent alliance with Nissan Motor Company Ltd. and Groupe Renault.

Nissan became a major shareholder of MMC on Oct. 20, when it invested 237 billion yen ($2.18 billion) equivalent to a 34-percent equity stake in the company. 

MMC chairman, president and chief executive Osamu Masuko said Nissan chief executive Carlos Ghosn vowed to keep the three brands separate and independent.

Masuko said that under the alliance, MMC would pursue its expansion plan in the Philippines. 

“The production of Mirage G4 will start in January 2017, followed by Mirage and the new stamping plant to be completed in January 2018. In addition, we would like to further make use of production capacity in the future and make further investment,” Masuko told Filipino journalists here.

Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp., the local unit of MMC, is the first company to register in the Comprehensive Automotive Resurgence Strategy—the Philippine government’s incentive program for the automotive industry.

Masuko said MMPC would produce Mirage and Mirage G4 vehicles in Sta. Rosa City, Laguna, its new production base.

“The annual production capacity of this plant is 50,000 units, but with additional investment, that capacity can be expanded to 100,000 units,” he said.

He said the plan would also involve exporting Mirage and Mirage G4 vehicles from the Philippines.

“MMPC has started investing about P4.3 billion, implemented the expansion of the passenger production line as well as construction of a new stamping plant,” Masuko said.

MMPC president and chief executive Yoshiaki Kato said the stamping plant in Laguna was already under construction and would be completed by January 2018. The plant would produce Mirage body.

“For the first time, we will have a stamping plant in the Philippines. It is a challenge we would like to take. We could increase capacity to 100,000 units,” said Masuko.

MMPC hired 400 new Filipino workers to produce Mirage vehicles, bringing its total workforce in the Philippines to 1,400. “Furthermore, once the stamping plant is completed, we are planning to increase headcount to about 1,500,” said Masuko.

“I hope that the government will keep supporting the CARS program. If volume goes up, you can eventually export,” he said.

The triple alliance between Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi created one of the world’s top three automotive groups, with a goal to sell 10 million vehicles in 2016. Masuko said the alliance aimed to become the leading producer of electric vehicles in the world.

The alliance is expected to cut costs for the three companies. 

“The alliance has the basic spirit of respecting each other’s brand, history and management autonomy. The brand, marketing and sales network will be kept separate as in the past,” Masuko said.

“On the other hand, we aim for greater synergy impact in the field of purchasing, vehicle platform, development of advanced technology, growing markets, joint plant utilization and financial services,” he said.

MMPC sold 55,000 vehicles in the Philippines in 2015, making it the second largest automotive player in the country.

Topics: Mitsubishi Motors Corp. , Mirage , Mirage G4 production , Nissan Motor Company Ltd. , Groupe Renault
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