Mitsubishi Executives Skip Beijing as Partner Seeks Top Spot

  • Senior Mitsubishi executives skipped China's largest car show
  • Carmaker said to mull delaying issuing profit forecast

Mitsubishi Motors Corp.’s senior executives skipped the Beijing car show as the automaker grapples with the fallout from its mileage fraud admission. That didn’t stop its local joint venture from declaring it wants to become the top SUV brand in the world’s largest vehicle market.

GAC Mitsubishi plans to introduce 10 new models in the next five years as part of its goal to become No. 1 in sport utility vehicles in China, Zhang Yuesai, executive vice president of Mitsubishi’s Chinese joint venture, said on stage at the Beijing motor show.

Zhang didn’t make any reference to or apologize for the carmaker’s fraud admission last week. No Japanese executives made speeches at the briefing, which featured Taiwanese singer Jeff Zhang belting out one of his hits from the 1990s.

Volkswagen executives apologized at the Tokyo and Guangzhou car shows following revelations in September that the company installed cheating devices to beat emission tests. Mitsubishi Motors President Tetsuro Aikawa bowed in apology at a briefing last week in Tokyo, after the company disclosed it exaggerated the fuel efficiency of 625,000 minicars and has been testing cars with a method that’s not compliant with Japanese standards since 2002.

The company hasn’t said whether the cheating extended to other models, or on vehicles sold outside of Japan. The automaker canceled a press briefing on Tuesday, announced earlier Monday, without providing a reason.

Chinese Partner

Guangzhou Automobile, which owns 50 percent of the Chinese joint venture, led this year’s event at the Beijing show and isn’t in a position to apologize on behalf of its Japanese partner as it’s a separate company, Mitsubishi Motors spokesman Kai Inada said. Mitsubishi Motors and Mitsubishi Corp. own 33 percent and 17 percent in the venture, respectively.

Mitsubishi Motors has until Wednesday to submit data about its falsification to the country’s transport ministry, the same day it’s scheduled to report fourth-quarter results and issue a forecast for the coming fiscal year. The company will probably report a 32 percent increase in quarterly net income of 25.9 billion yen ($233 million), according to analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Profit Forecast

The automaker is considering delaying the issue of its annual profit forecast this week as it needs more time to measure the effect and extent of fines, compensation and other costs related to its disclosure it falsified data on fuel-economy tests, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Nissan Motor Co. will decide on its partnership with Mitsubishi Motors after “all verification is done,” said Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn. Three quarters of the affected minicars produced by Mitsubishi Motors in the past three years were supplied to Nissan.

Kyodo News reported that Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., the largest shareholder in Mitsubishi Motors, will make a decision on the automaker after hearing the results of an investigation into the automaker’s emissions and fuel economy testing. Mitsubishi Heavy was one of the companies that bailed out the carmaker more than 10 years after it was found to have covered up safety defects.

— With assistance by Yuki Hagiwara, and Jie Ma

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