Will it happen or not?
Nissan is finally getting back on track following a troubling two-year period. Major financial cutbacks have been enacted and after joining the alliance only four years ago, yesterday we learned that Nissan is supposedly interested in selling some or all of its 34 percent stake in Mitsubishi, Japan's sixth-largest automaker. Nissan shelled out $2.2 billion for that stake. With a desire for more cash, will Nissan ditch Mitsubishi?
Responding to the reports, Nissan's chief operating officer, Ashwani Gupta, told Reuters the automaker is "absolutely not" in talks to sell its Mitsubishi stake. Denials such as this are not surprising, especially if there is a deal in the works and neither side is prepared to make them public yet. As of this writing, no official denial has come from Nissan.
Mitsubishi was saved from potential disaster by now-former Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn in 2016 following the revelation of its third scandal in 20 years regarding overstating fuel economy data for several models (none of which were sold in the US). Ghosn saw value in the struggling automaker because of its strong sales in several Asian markets.
The good news for Mitsubishi is that it remains a formidable brand in that continent despite only selling five models in North America. Its best-seller, the Mitsubishi Outlander, is due for a complete redesign sometime next year, and it will utilize the same platform as the also new Nissan Rogue.
Still, Nissan's finances are still in the midst of recovery and it is likely looking at every potential source of income. A Mitsubishi sale would immediately generate much-needed cash. Along with replacing aging models and largely abandoning fleet sales, Nissan has made the strategic decision to focus efforts on the highly lucrative North American and Chinese markets; its European presence is being heavily drawn back.
Whether Mitsubishi will remain an alliance member or not remains up for speculation, but we're still waiting to hear what Nissan has to say on the subject.