The North American arm of DaimlerChrysler AG was integral in negotiations to form an alliance with Mitsubishi Motors Corp. (Ward's Automotive Reports — April 3, '00, p.1), a top executive insists.

“The whole board was involved,” says Jim Holden, president of DaimlerChrysler Corp. “Tom Gale (executive vice president, product development and design) was in it up to his eyeballs the whole time and so was I.”

Former Chrysler Corp. executives were conspicuously absent at press events to announce the Mitsubishi alliance, given their history.

It was a case of logistics, says Mr. Holden. “The announcement part was in Stuttgart and then Tokyo. We were all welcome to go, but I gotta tell you, it meant a nine-hour flight, both ways, to be at a press conference for an hour, when (DC Chairman Juergen Schrempp) was already there,” says Mr. Holden.

Chrysler and Mitsubishi are proud of “30 years of history and we're still doing cars together (at Mitsubishi Motor Mfg. of America, Inc.'s plant in Normal, IL),” says Mr. Holden.

There's more to come. No decisions have been made yet, but “we know there's a pony in there someplace. We're looking for the pony now. We're doing really well with the platform sharing that we have done on the coupes and we know we can expand that.”

Elsewhere, “Mitsubishi has a lot of technology and engines for small displacement for other markets where we're not strong,” says Mr. Holden. “We already have a lot of connections with the technical group.” Once the deal is finalized, “we'll spend some time looking for the opportunities for all parties.”