Under a partnership agreement signed last October, Mitsubishi will spin off its truck and bus unit next year and Volvo will own just under 20% of the new operation. Last March Volvo's rival DaimlerChrysler bought a 34% stake in Mitsubishi. The German-U.S. auto/truck giant has said it will respect the deal. However one-third ownership gives it power to veto Mitsubishi board decisions and, as Reuters points out, the company is a major truck maker with an eye on expansion in Asia. Investments that will benefit a rival could be a hard pill to swallow.
At a recent gathering of foreign journalists, Mitsubishi President Katsuhiko Kawasoe acknowledged possible problems between the two partners and said he has recommended a "Chinese wall" between the two companies. In addition to making the truck and bus unit a separate company, truck and car operations will be housed on different floors when they share the same building.
But beyond those physical divisions, keeping peace in the extended family will hinge largely on trust. "In the end, there is not much we can do except to ask DaimlerChrysler and Volvo to trust us that we will treat the car and truck divisions fairly," he said.