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Mitsubishi keen to cook with Endeavor

Project Endeavor: Mitsubishi Australia believes adapting the Endeavor to right-hand drive is right up its alley.

Mitsubishi Australia pitches for a righ-hand version of Endeavor

Mitsubishi logo3 Feb 2003

MITSUBISHI Motors Australia's burgeoning research and development department will this month pitch for the right to develop a right-hand drive version of the Endeavor cross-over wagon which was launched at Detroit earlier this month.

The Endeavor proposal is one of a number of projects MMAL will target in discussions with Mitsubishi president and CEO Rolf Eckrodt, who flies into Adelaide for meetings with the local management team in February.

Also on the agenda is local development of a sedan and wagon, based on either a new small or mid-sized platform, due to emerge around 2006-07.

MMAL's R&D capacity was dramatically boosted as part of the $1 billion makeover of the company announced in April 2002.

While the entire product engineering division benefits from the R&D boost, much of the attention is centred on the newly formed Special Projects Centre, which began picking up international work late last year and should be fully operational by early 2004.

It is already working on the development of the 2005 version of the Outlander cross-over wagon and is adapting a US-built model for sale in Japan. Many of the vehicles it will work on here will never go on sale in Australia.

The Endeavor is the first of four vehicles to be launched under Project America, all of which are designed and built in the US using the same platform that will eventually underpin the Magna replacement to be built in Adelaide from 2005.

Powered by a 3.8-litre V6 engine - which should also make its way into the Magna replacement and the long wheelbase spin-off Mitsubishi Australia will build for the US - mated to a four-speed auto, the Endeavor is a light-duty viscous coupled all-wheel drive rather than a heavy duty off-roader like the similarly sized Challenger.

Being aimed at the US, it was developed without any consideration for right-hand drive adaptation, much to the frustration of MMAL boss Tom Phillips who believes the car could be a success if sold here.

Special Projects Centre manager Rob Chadwick believes adapting the Endeavor to right-hand drive is right up his department's alley.

"That is the sort of work we will be doing a lot more for the Mitsubishi group," he said.

"Endeavor is certainly not something that we are actively studying at the moment, but the noises are being made and it may well pop up in the next month or so.

"The level of discussion is that Tom (Phillips) has talked to Eckrodt about it, that it would be a good car to have in the Aussie market, and yes MMAL could do the engineering for it, but that's as far as it's gone at this time."Mr Chadwick is hopeful the go-ahead will be given at the February meeting to develop a business case for Endeavor, with a final decision due around mid-year. The same sort of timeline would apply to the sedan/wagon development.

But there is no prospect of local manufacture of Endeavor, which is built at Mitsubishi's plant in Normal, Illinois.

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