The union and management of Mitsubishi Motors Corp. have agreed to replace the seniority-based wage structure with a performance-based system, sources close to the talks said Thursday.

Under the new system, each employee’s pay will depend on managers’ assessments of the worker’s performance, the sources said.

The new system will apply to engineering and office employees, regardless of length of service, they said.

Other Japanese companies are also dropping or revising seniority-based pay.

In January, Honda Motor Co. announced it was introducing a performance-based system, and electrical machinery companies, including Fujitsu Ltd., NEC Corp. and Hitachi Ltd., have proposed limiting the yearly increments in basic pay.

The MMC deal may influence the course of this spring’s labor-management wage talks at various big companies, at which one of the focal points is whether the seniority-based wage system should be maintained, industry officials said.

MMC previously introduced the performance-based wage system for employees in administrative posts who do not belong to the labor union and has been in talks with the union since last year about introducing it for all employees.

Suzuki in GMDAT deal

Suzuki Motor Corp. said Thursday it will start selling cars built by South Korea’s GM Daewoo Auto & Technology Co. in North America in 2004.

GMDAT is a joint venture set up last year by General Motors Corp., Suzuki and the creditor banks of bankrupt Daewoo Motor Co.

Suzuki said it will sell three models, include the Verona subcompact sedan, under its brand in Canada and the U.S.

The automaker said it expects to sell 70,000 of the three models combined a year.

GM plans to sell GMDAT vehicles under the GM brand.

In October, Suzuki acquired a 14.9 percent equity stake in GMDAT, in which the GM group is the largest shareholder. Suzuki itself is owned 20 percent by GM.

Both Suzuki and GM want to expand their automobile lineups by proceeding with new marketing arrangements with GMDAT, Suzuki officials said.

Used vehicle sales up

Sales of used vehicles totaled 356,560 units in January, up 3.1 percent from a year earlier, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association said Thursday.

The first increase in four months was attributed to brisk sales in the car category.

Sales of used cars with engine capacities of more than 2,000cc jumped 8.1 percent to 126,810 units, the best January ever.

Sales of cars with 2,000cc engines or smaller rose 1.3 percent to 184,551.

However, truck sales fell 3.2 percent to 34,995 units and buses slid 18.7 percent to 694.

The association said it sees a rough road ahead for used-vehicle sales due to consumer reluctance to change cars amid the weak economy.

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