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Decision time for Mitsubishi Lancer

New underpinnings: Mitsubishi’s agreement with the Renault-Nissan Alliance may see a compact car produced with a Megane platform replace the seven year old Lancer.

Mitsubishi, Renault and Nissan discuss replacement for ageing Lancer

10 Nov 2014

MITSUBISHI could replace its ageing Lancer with a small car based on a Renault or Nissan model, with discussions now underway to finalise the platform supplier.

According to a report by Automotive News, Mitsubishi will produce two new models based on vehicles from the Renault/Nissan range, but whether either is chalked to succeed the seven year old sedan is yet to be decided.

The news follows an announcement in 2013 that the Renault-Nissan Alliance would entering a “strategic cooperation” with Mitsubishi to share products and electric vehicle technology.

“It is firstly expected that two new sedan models would be launched under the Mitsubishi brand, based on vehicles from the Renault portfolio,” the statement read.

“The first sedan, to compete in the full-size D-segment markets of the United States and Canada and would be manufactured at the Renault-Samsung plant in Busan, South Korea.

“The second sedan model would compete in the global C-segment. The manufacturing location for this product is under discussion.” Speaking to Automotive News Mitsubishi CEO Osamu Masuko said while the larger sedan would be for sale in North America only, the compact car will be sold wherever there is a demand for it.

"We don't have any limitations [for the compact],” he said. “If there's a market for our vehicle we would like to sell there.” The larger sedan is expected to be based on the Renault Latitude and go on sale in the US within the next three years.

The compact car will most likely replace the Lancer in Australia and Mr Masuko said the partners were still discussing whether it be based on a Renault or Nissan.

As reported by GoAuto, the Renault Megane would likely provide the underpinnings if the decision was made to use a platform from the French car-maker.

Mitsubishi Motors Australia executive director of marketing told GoAuto he had not be informed yet which platform will be used, but is enthusiastic at the idea of a new small car joining the range.

“These decisions are made at the highest levels of our organisation and we haven’t been advised of our parent company'’s intentions at this stage,” he said.

“When the new models do become available, we’ll make a decision based on where they fit within our line-up and whether we can establish a business case.

“The Australian small car market is strong so we’d be very keen to see a small segment model. But if it’s a medium segment car, we’d have to consider the business case before making a decision about whether it to sell it in Australia.” The current generation Lancer is seven years old and competes in a fiercely competitive segment against rivals such Toyota’s Corolla and Mazda3 both of which have been replaced in past 18 months by new-generation models.

In April GoAuto reported that Mr Masuko confirmed Mitsubishi’s new focus would be SUVs and light commercial vehicles, ruling out the development of car platforms alone.

Nissan’s best-selling model is the Triton 4x4 with 14,923 sales since the start of this year until the end of October. In second place, but slipping by 25 per cent compared to this time in 2013 is Lancer with 7977 units, then the ASX compact SUV with 7897, followed by Outlander on 7657 and the Mirage hatch with 5803.

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