Nissan, Mitsubishi strengthen cooperation

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese automakers Nissan and Mitsubishi are strengthening their cooperation by expanding the number of models they make for each other in Japan.

Nissan and its smaller rival Mitsubishi have had what is called an original equipment manufacturer, or OEM, deal since December 2010. They manufacture specific vehicle models for each other and sell them under their own brands.

Nissan Motor Co. said Thursday it will provide the Fuga luxury sedan to Mitsubishi Motors Corp., starting from summer next year.

They have also started talks on Mitsubishi providing the Minicab-MiEV commercial electric car to Nissan in the fiscal year that begins April 2012.

Such OEM deals are fairly common in the auto industry. They allow companies to cut costs by increasing production scale and to expand their lineup of types of cars they don't want to invest in the development or manufacturing of.

Under an earlier agreement, Nissan, which also makes the Leaf electric car and March subcompact, is providing the NV200 Vanette compact van to Mitsubishi Motors from next month.

They also set up a joint venture called NMKV Co., which began operating in June, to work together on minicars for the Japanese market, which may later include other nations.

Mitsubishi President Osamu Masuko has said he hopes the joint venture will fuse his company's design expertise with Nissan's purchasing power.

"These initiatives are intended to strengthen the competitiveness of both companies in Japan," both sides said in a statement.

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