Nissan Motor Co. agreed on Thursday to take a 34 percent stake in Mitsubishi Motors Corp. as the company attempts to recover from a fuel economy scandal.
Leaders of the two automakers appeared at a last-minute press conference Thursday in Yokohama, Japan – home of the Nissan headquarters – to announce what Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn called a “win-win” deal.
“This will be a dynamic cooperation between two major Japanese car manufacturers, enabling us to harness the respective capabilities of our companies,” he said. “At Nissan we are determined to preserve and nurture the Mitsubishi motors brand, and we will help this company address the challenges it faces – particularly in restoring consumer trust in its fuel economy performance.”
Mitsubishi already manufactures minicar models for Nissan that are an important part of its Japanese sales. Acquiring a major stake in Mitsubishi will also give Nissan more exposure to Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries.
According to Ghosn, Nissan will invest $2.2 billion into the company, making it Mitsubishi’s largest investor.
Last month, Mitsubishi admitted that several of its employees fudged the numbers on its fuel economy data, making several models appear to get better gas mileage than they actually do. Some of the cars that had their data manipulated showed fuel economy that was about 15 percent better than in reality.
The companies expect to complete the agreement by May 25.
Mitsubishi, the world's sixth-largest automaker has about half of its market value since news of the fuel-rigging scandal broke.
The company is no stranger to scandal, nearly going out of business after admitting back in 2000 that it covered up major safety defects for several decades.
Mitsubishi is the second carmaker accused of falsifying environmental data in the 12 months. Germany's Volkswagen admitted late last year that it installed software on millions of its vehicles that activated bogus emissions controls to deceive testing officials.