Mitsubishi-badged Nissans? Think again.

In October of last year, Renault-Nissan bought a 34-percent controlling-ownership stake in Mitsubishi Motors, with Carlos Ghosn becoming chairman of the board. And while no drastic changes have happened just yet as a result of this new partnership, Mitsubishi executives say the brand will still have its own distinct identity around the world.

“We are competitors and we will remain competitors,” Mitsubishi’s Don Swearingen told members of the media at an event on Thursday evening. Sure, Mitsubishi and Nissan will learn a lot from each other, sharing knowledge about plug-in hybrids and full electric vehicles, not to mention sharing parts and platforms across the brands, but Swearingen assures, “Nissan doesn’t want to just give us their car with a new badge on it.”

Think of the partnership like Hyundai and Kia – two brands owned by the same parent company, but with their own unique identities and products that compete head to head in the U.S. market. In terms of what, exactly, will be shared between Mitsubishi and Nissan, Swearingen says “many of those areas will not be visible to customers” – future Mitsubishis will absolutely not just be one-off Nissans.

It’s unclear exactly when this partnership will bear tangible fruit, since all of Mitsubishi’s future product plans were in motion long before the Renault-Nissan tie-in. But as Mitsubishi looks to bolster its lineup with more crossovers, Nissan’s success in this area could certainly prove helpful.


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