MAKUHARI, Chiba Pref. — The fate of Nedcar, the Netherlands-based joint venture between Volvo Car Corp. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp., became clearer Wednesday as Ford Motor Co.’s chief executive officer indicated Mitsubishi’s platforms may be dropped.

Jacques Nasser, who took the helm of the world’s No. 2 automaker earlier this year, told reporters at an informal meeting that there are three points to the Nedcar joint venture — the relationship between Volvo and MMC, manufacturing and platform-sharing.

“There are three different aspects of one overall cooperation. It could be very well the business relationship continues and the manufacturing relationship continues because the Nedcar is manufacturing facilities. And maybe the platform cooperation is different,” Nasser said.

MMC and the Swedish automaker have been negotiating the future of the fifty-fifty venture since Ford bought AB Volvo’s passenger car business earlier this year.

The Dutch venture produces midsize cars based on MMC platforms at manufacturing facilities that have the capacity to build 280,000 units a year. MMC does not have a strong manufacturing base in Europe other than the Nedcar facility.

Concerning a possible tieup between Ford and Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., Nasser indicated that capital participation in Fuji, known for its Subaru brand, is unlikely, although it is one of the companies Ford is considering.

Nasser said Ford is well-
positioned in product lines for the Japanese market, but noted that carmakers engage in various relationships, ranging from components to ultimate acquisition.

“We are not in desperate need for another brand. But we always talk (to other automakers) because I think (there are) many opportunities for cooperation,” Nasser said.

Amid the ongoing consolidation of the auto industry, Fuji, which is relatively small in scale, is looking for a capital tieup partner to survive intensifying competition.

Nasser also said the ongoing realignment in the industry will continue, calling it “inevitable.”

Smaller automakers whose output amounts to about 2 million vehicles a year can survive if they find different market niches than those of the mass manufacturers, Nasser said.

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