“After constructive and fruitful discussions Mitsubishi Motors Corporation and DaimlerChrysler AG mutually agreed that DaimlerChrysler AG will increase its influence in Mitsubishi Motors Corporation,” DaimlerChrysler said.
“Changes have been agreed to the organization and management of Mitsubishi Motors that will ensure the recovery of the company’s reputation,” it said.
Analysts say Sonobe also has a track-record of tough decision-making and turnaround successes during his time at Mitsubishi’s North American operations.
Erik Burgold, auto sector analyst at BHF-Bank in Frankfurt, said it was not yet clear how much operational control DaimlerChrysler will be able to wrest from Mitsubishi Motors Corp’s parent firm.
“In my view, the problem still exists that Mitsubishi Motors is integrated into the supplier structure of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and the question is how far they can break up the supplier structure,” he said.
Truck Tussle? Another question puzzling analysts is the future of Mitsubishi’s commercial vehicle operation in which rival Volvo has a five percent stake.
DaimlerChrysler, the world’s number one in heavy trucks, said it would honor Mitsubishi’s agreement with Volvo — which wants to boost its stake in the trucks unit above 20 percent it is due to take next year.
But industry sources said Daimler would oppose any such move, setting the scene for a tussle with the Swedes over the attractive business. Daimler’s 34 percent stake allows them to block any decision regarding capital increases.
Volvo said changes in an alliance between DaimlerChrysler and Mitsubishi would not weaken its own deal with MMC but admitted it made its own tie with the Japanese company more difficult.
“Our position has not weakened because of this [new deal]. They are adding an operative boss for the car division, which confirms what MMC has said and that is that the car and truck divisions must be separate,” AB Volvo spokesman Mats Edenborg told Reuters.
Eleven months ago Volvo, the world’s second biggest truck maker, and Mitsubishi took small stakes in each other and agreed that Volvo would acquire one-fifth of MMC’s prized truck and bus unit when it is sold next July.