Katsuhiko Kawasoe, president of Mitsubishi Motors Corp., said last week that Volvo Cars desires to end its joint venture factory known as NedCar when the current contract expires in 2004. The JV was established in 1991.

NedCar, located in Born, The Netherlands, assembles the Volvo S40/V40 and two models of the Mitsubishi Carisma on a shared platform.

Mr. Kawasoe says Volvo wants to use a Ford platform for the next generation S/V 40. However, a Volvo Cars spokesman in Gothenburg, Sweden, denies that any decision has been made.

He tells Ward's the only suitable Ford chassis is the one used for the Focus. And that platform would need a great deal of modification before it met Volvo standards for safety and durability, the spokesman says.

The NedCar plant has a capacity of 280,000 units. That was supposed to be split 50/50, but Mitsubishi's cars have been slow sellers in Europe so Volvo is getting substantially more than half. Volvo is scheduled to get 150,000 S/V 40 units in 1999, while Mitsubishi is expected to get only 80,000 Carismas and Space Stars this year.

It is not yet clear what the future of the NedCar plant will be. While there has been speculation since Ford purchased Volvo in February that the Swedish automaker would switch future products to Ford platforms, there has been little talk about building Volvos at a Ford factory.