Nissan will provide Mazda with four-wheel-drive technology to cut costs and boost patent income. Meanwhile, Mitsubishi appears likely to develop a minicar with shareholder DaimlerChrysler.

Nissan will provide Mazda with four-wheel-drive technology to cut costs and boost patent income. Meanwhile, Mitsubishi appears likely to develop a minicar with shareholder DaimlerChrysler. The source of both reports was Japanese newspaper Nihon Keizai Shimbun.


According to ‘paper, the licensing agreement between Nissan and Mazda would be the latest in a series among manufacturers that are under pressure to cut the ballooning costs of developing new technologies. Mazda, Japan's fifth-largest manufacturer, planned to incorporate the 4WD technology in its Demio subcompact as a customer option.


The electric 4WD system, which was co-developed by Hitachi and Tochigi Fuji Industrial, enables manufacturers to cut production costs at it uses fewer parts than conventional 4x4 systems, the paper said.


Nissan, owned 44,4 per cent by Renault, has offered the electric system in some of its subcompacts since last autumn. Mazda, owned one-third by Ford, is in the midst of a five-year turnaround plan and is counting on new models such as the Demio to boost global sales and put it on a firm recovery track.


Another Nihon Keizai Shimbun report said Mitsubishi and DaimlerChrysler AG would jointly develop a minicar for the European market by 2006. Apparently, the manufacturers plan to use Mitsubishi's "Minica" as a prototype in developing a fuel-efficient new model.


"We are looking into various areas to increase the positive effects of our alliance with DaimlerChrysler", was a Mitsubishi spokesman’s response.


In an attempt to reduce costs, the two firms have already jointly developed Mitsubishi's subcompact Colt, on sale in Japan since November. The model, which has an engine displacement of 1,3- to 1,5-litre, will be sold in Europe next year.


The Nihon Keizai said DaimlerChrysler and Mitsubishi would manufacture car bodies for their respective markets, using engines provided by Mitsubishi. The total development cost is estimated between R1,95- and R3,25 billion, it said.

Original article from Car