TOKYO Chrysler will sell a rebadged Mitsubishi Motors Corp (7211.T) compact sedan in Mexico, in a five-year deal that will help the Japanese automaker maintain production levels at its hard-hit Thailand production base.
The agreement with Chrysler de Mexico, which marks the first time in decades that Mitsubishi will provide Chrysler with cars for rebadging, is limited to Mexico and there are no plans for it to be expanded other countries, Osamu Masuko, CEO of Japan's sixth-biggest automaker, told reporters.
He said he hoped Chrysler de Mexico would be able to sell at least 10,000 of the rebadged Attrage sedans a year, adding that it was likely to be sold under Chrysler's Dodge brand.
Thailand, a production and export hub for Japanese car makers, has seen domestic car sales plunge after a subsidy for first-time car buyers ended and as a political crisis drags on.
"Our Thai business has not necessarily gone the way we had hoped for due to political and economic conditions, but by sending these vehicles to Mexico, we can maintain production levels," Masuko said.
He added that Chrysler de Mexico, which has been distributing Mitsubishi brand cars since 2003, can import vehicles from Thailand without paying tariffs.
Chrysler is a unit of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles FIA.M. Asked about recent media reports that Mitsubishi will supply Fiat with its pickup truck L200, Masuko said: "There are no talks like that." Masuko said he has never met Fiat Chrysler's CEO Sergio Marchionne.
(Reporting by Christopher Gallagher, Teppei Kasai and Yoko Kubota; Editing by Edmund Klamann and Edwina Gibbs)