Tokyo — Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.'s possible sale of Calsonic Kansei Corp., one of its biggest suppliers, would cast off a final vestige of the carmaker's keiretsu system of intertwined parts makers.
It also would inject cash into Nissan as it funds expensive projects in electrified and autonomous cars — not to mention its looming purchase of a controlling interest in Mitsubishi Motors Corp.
Buying the proposed 34 percent controlling stake in Mitsubishi would set Nissan back some $2.2 billion, and the carmaker aims to finalize the takeover by the end of this year.
The Japanese media initially reported that Nissan was considering selling its 41 percent stake in Calsonic Kansei less than two weeks after Nissan said it would splurge on buying Mitsubishi.
Nissan has not confirmed its intent to sell.
A Nissan spokesman described Calsonic Kansei as one of the "most important partners" of Nissan and Renault SA, its French alliance partner. But he added: "We are always considering various options that would lead to increasing their competitiveness."
A person familiar with the matter said Nissan is exploring the sale as part of its long-term strategy of shedding major stakes in suppliers, especially suppliers producing commodity parts.
A Calsonic Kansei spokeswoman declined to comment on the matter.
Calsonic Kansei is a top maker of auto interiors, electronics and climate systems. Producers of such products have been under pressure from low-cost rivals in China and elsewhere, while automakers shift their focus on partnerships to advanced-technology companies.
Its U.S.-based Calsonic North America Inc. includes two plants with injection molding of interior parts. It was No. 67 in Plastics News most recent ranking of North American injection molders with an estimated $134 million in injection molding.
In 2013, Calsonic North America invested $109 million across three sites in Tennessee, including its injection molding plant in Lewisburg. Its other North American plastics plant is in Aguascalientes, Mexico.