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Mitsubishi Australia’s most wanted models

MMAL boss says new ASX, Delica, eK X and Xpander wanted; Aussies ready for kei cars

1 Aug 2023

MITSUBISHI Motors Australia Limited (MMAL) CEO Shaun Westcott said he believes Australia is ready to embrace a slew of new models and niche body styles that have either been long forgotten or would be all-new to these shores.


Joining the “must have” ASX replacement – a model MMAL says could be sourced from ASEAN or European stock – Mr Westcott said the Aussie market is ideally suited to low-volume models including the Delica people mover and eK X, the latter a micro-sized electric kei car commonplace on Japanese roads.


“An ASX replacement is very important for us, and we are doing everything we can to get a replacement,” he said.


“Mitsubishi understands the importance of the product for us and is working very hard on getting a vehicle for us. However, the problem as to which vehicle that will be is not a simple one.


“There are a number of options on the table that can be considered, including the rebadged Renault Captur and the production version of the XFC concept vehicle (due to debut on August 10 at the Indonesian International Auto Show).”


However, Mr Westcott revealed that the production XFC will initially be unsuited to the Australian market “because of ANCAP related requirements”.


“If we were to take the XFC platform, we would have to re-engineer the entire car for the Australian market because the requirements of ANCAP are not requirements in other markets,” he explained.


“That doesn’t mean that XFC is off the table entirely, because it may become the case that it is important enough to our market that we make that investment, but I don’t have an answer for you today because there are some very complex engineering and financial questions behind this (decision).”


Mitsubishi says the forthcoming model will offer a comfortable and spacious cabin with versatile storage spaces that are balanced with manoeuvrable and compact exterior dimensions but did not say if or how much larger than the ASX the future model might be.


Although non-committal on whether the Indonesian debut or the Captur-based ASX will replace the current model in Australia – while suggesting that a third product could become available – Mr Wescott did say that globally, Mitsubishi remains focussed on the Australian market and is considering a number of niche alternatives to help broaden its portfolio beyond the current SUV and LCV-centric line-up.


Mr Westcott also said that away from the familiar Mitsubishi range, where volume considerations and safety scores are of key importance, more lifestyle-oriented vehicles including the Delica and Xpander vans, and even the pint-sized eK X electric car could be made available, giving Australian buyers both the choice and character oft overlooked by Mitsubishi’s rivals.


“The significance and importance of the Australian market has accelerated quite significantly over the past few years … our market share has grown significantly, and our profitability has grown significantly,” he detailed.


“We are pushing very hard for additional products. We are currently assessing the Delica for the local market, and we will be bringing a kei car for assessment as well. The world has moved, and we need to move with it.”


Echoing Mr Westcott’s sentiments, Mitsubishi Motors Corporation representative executive officer, president and CEO, Takao Kato, said the Delica was a vehicle that has had strong interest from the Australian public, but not always from MMAL dealerships.


“The Delica sells very well in Japan, and we have previously introduced it to our dealers not only in Australia, but also in Europe and the United States, maybe four or five years ago,” he explained.


“They did not consider it a good product for their markets (at the time). But recently many people have told us ‘I want a Delica’, so it shows that people’s preferences are changing.


“So, there might be a chance for Delica to be sold in Australia – and some other countries – though the current Delica is a ‘maybe’ because of regulatory issues. But there is a chance for Xpander or Delica in the future, even if nothing has been decided yet.”


The wait-and-see approach seems to be one taken throughout Mitsubishi and in relation to each model questioned. Mr Westcott said of the eK X that he was willing to import the vehicle, even if only in small numbers, provided buyer interest was there.


“With more people packed into a small area, you need a vehicle that is smaller … Obviously, we want to hear the voice of the consumer (and as such) we will run clinics that will hopefully identify who we consider the target market.


“These (kei cars) are great options for people who want a distinctive lifestyle, who want to have an image, and the kind of people we’re talking about are those who drive a Fiat 500 or a Mini … Something that can be driven around town and that is good for the environment.”


The eK X, as it is known, is an electric kei car with “the spacious, pleasant cabin and user-friendliness” of the petrol-powered model, “while also providing the smooth and powerful driving experience of an EV, a quiet and comfortable ride, and the convenience made possible by advanced driver assistance systems and connectivity”.


With a 20kWh battery the eK X offers a driving range of up to 180km, with Mitsubishi saying most kei car buyers travel less than 50km per day. The model takes 40 minutes to fully recharge and offers an output of 47kW and 195Nm for “crisp, lively throttle response”.


The eK X measures just 3395mm in length, 1475mm in width and 1640mm in height, making it shorter and narrower than a Kia Picanto but slightly taller. It rides on a 2495mm wheelbase and tips the scales at just 930kg, which is extremely light for an electric vehicle.


For the three-row Xpander (medium) and Delica (large) people movers, we find differing specifications well suited to the ASEAN market, but that may also find favour with MPV-loving Aussies while filling a gap in the market recently vacated by the Honda Odyssey..


The seven-seat Xpander measures 4475mm in length, 1750mm wide and is 1730mm high with a wheelbase of 2775mm and ground clearance of 205mm. It is powered by a 1.5-litre petrol engine developing 77kW and 141Nm and drives the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission (CVT).


Finally, for the Delica – which would rival the Kia Carnival or Hyundai Staria locally – we find measurements of 4595mm long, 1695mm wide and 1855mm high. A turbo-diesel engine displacing 2.3 litres and offering 107kW/350Nm through an eight-speed automatic is offered alongside a 2.4-litre petrol making 125kW/232Nm and hooked up to an automatic continuously variable transmission.

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