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Mitsubishi confirms van launch timing

Renault Trafic-based mid-size van to arrive in Mitsubishi showrooms in Q2 2020

6 Sep 2019

MITSUBISHI Motors Australia Limited (MMAL) has confirmed it will be entering the van segment in the middle of next year, with the arrival of its as-yet-unnamed mid-size van based on the Renault Trafic.


First reported in November last year, the Japanese car-maker will leverage its membership of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance to enter the van segment as it transitions into an SUV and light-commercial vehicle (LCV) specialist.


Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) COO Ashwani Gupta said the van will for now be the only model that Mitsubishi will borrow from Renault and Nissan to expand its product portfolio.


“We will have a van in Australia,” he said. “This is a segment we have not (competed in), and we believe that because of our strength in the pick-up title, we can have a great integration of this business.


“And that van will be available to us from Renault, so that is something which we are getting into.”


It is currently unclear which variants of the Trafic will be brought to Australia, with Renault offering short- and long-wheelbase versions, single- and double-row seating arrangements, as well as a 1.6-litre turbo-diesel in three levels of tune – 66kW/260Nm, 85kW/300Nm and a twin-turbo version that pumps out 103kW/340Nm.


All versions drive the front wheels via a six-speed manual transmission.


When asked about the importance of differentiation between Alliance products, Mr Gupta said the it was more important for the customer to notice changes between offerings, more so than for the company.


“Differentiation is important, not from our viewpoint, but from the customer viewpoint, how they see the differentiation,” he said.


“For us, the brand power is the driving factor that decided the differentiation, and brand power is not only driven by Mitsubishi, but by our network, our dealer engagement towards our products and the brand, and basically from that we decided what kind of differentiation we’ll be going for.


“So, we don’t have one policy for differentiation, it’s case by case, it’s country by country, it’s region by region.”


One point of difference with Renault will be Mitsubishi’s price point, with MMAL CEO John Signoriello not going as far as announcing pricing but saying its structure will be different to Renault’s, which starts at $32,990 and goes up to $47,490 for the Crew Lifestyle grade.


“Let’s say we’ll probably try to do something a little different,” he said.


“We definitely don’t want to be competing head-on with Renault. We just want to try something a little bit different – without giving away too much.”


Mr Signoriello was hesitant to put volume aspirations on the new van, only saying the company would look to get its “fair share of whatever the market is”.


Through the first eight months of the year, Renault has sold 1263 examples of the Trafic, placing it fourth in the segment behind the Toyota HiAce (3978), Hyundai iLoad (2982) and Ford Transit Custom (1404).


The introduction of the van could also possibly coincide with a realignment of Mitsubishi’s warranty and capped-price servicing programs, with the company currently reviewing its five-year/100,000km term.


As a toe-in-the-water exercise, MY19 Triton examples have been offered with a seven-year/150,000km term, however that period could become permanent in the future with the brand looking to provide a “point of difference”, according to Mr Signoriello.


“We’re actually looking at a few initiatives that look at warranty and let’s just say that we’re working on a few things at the moment,” he said.


“Again, it’s all a business case, and if we can make it stack up, we’ll come up with something that’s quite extensive.”

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