Access to electric car technology is one of the driving forces behind PSA’s potential tie-up with Mitsubishi, Autocar has learned.
Mitsubishi Motor’s shareholder Mitsubishi Corporation has a controlling interest in one of Japan’s leading battery manufacturers, Lithium Energy Japan, which supplies the battery pack for Mitsubishi’s i-MIEV and the Peugeot-Citroen variants on sale in the UK next year.
Getting further access to this technology would speed-up the rate at which PSA could close the gap on French rivals Renault, whose EV plans are well-advanced, largely thanks to Japanese partner Nissan and its lithium-ion battery tech.
Today PSA confirmed that it has “started discussions with Mitsubishi Motors Company concerning the possibility of extending their relationship which could lead to a strategic partnership".
Reports from Japan suggest that PSA could take between a 30 and 50 per cent stake in Mitsubishi Motors, which would cost it between £1 billion and £1.6bn. In return Mitsubishi may take a stake in PSA.
But some analysts question whether the move is a financial risk for PSA, which is worth around £4bn at current share prices.
The investment would likely require PSA to raise extra funds, which would dilute the controlling Peugeot family’s holding from 30 per cent to around 22 per cent.
Apart from the EV tech, the positives for PSA are thought to include access to markets where Mitsubishi is strong, like Russia and Asia, and some purchasing and R&D cost savings. The benefits to Mitsubishi look wider-ranging, particularly in platform development and diesel engines.
Mitsubishi needs to find a new partner to co-develop the next-generation C-segment car. Costs on today’s model were shared with Chrysler and that option won’t be open following the Fiat takeover.