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Mitsubishi 380 replacement a possibility

Museum piece: Mitsubishi's 380 sedan was consigned to history last month.

Alliance with Renault-Nissan spells possible return of mid-size Mitsubishi

22 Nov 2013

By TIM NICHOLSON in TOKYO

MITSUBISHI Motors Corporation will consider right-hand drive production of its mooted D-segment Galant replacement depending on demand, meaning a possible Australian berth for its reborn mid-sizer.

The company's 'New Stage 2016' plan announced earlier this month includes plans to collaborate with the Renault-Nissan Alliance on both a D- and C-segment (small) car to reduce costs and enable Mitsubishi to focus on SUV and EV development.

The next-generation sedan will be targeted at the American market where mid-size models such as the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord are among the top-selling vehicles, but Mitsubishi has not ruled out selling the vehicle in other markets.

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) managing director and head officer of product projects and strategy group Ryugo Nakao said while the company was yet to make any firm decisions on the D-segment car, they would consider different territories if the demand was there.

“We are also considering the introduction of the D-segment sedan as a part of that alliance for the American market,” he said.

“We have to make further study. If we are going to introduce this car to the Australian market, we need to launch the left-hand drive first. If we consider right-hand drive we need to consider how many countries and how much volume we can expect for right-hand drive vehicles.” Should a mid-size sedan get the green light for right-hook production and an Australian berth, it will mark a return to the segment for Mitsubishi after it ceased local production of the 380 sedan in 2008.

The 380 was the replacement for the Magna that sold in Australia for 20 years between 1985 and 2005.

Nakao-San said the cooperation between Renault-Nissan and Mitsubishi would include a C-segment sedan – said to be a replacement for the aging Lancer – but said it was too early to discuss this model.

The Japanese car-maker will not outsource all of its future passenger vehicle development, with Nakao-San confirming that Mitsubishi will go it alone in producing the next-generation Mirage.

“For the successor of the Mirage, we will develop it by ourselves. Because Mirage is popular in rising countries and rising countries are our strength.” Also speaking at the Tokyo motor show, MMC president Osamu Masuko said the collaboration allowed Mitsubishi to keep costs down but maintain a healthy product portfolio.

“In the US, we want a D-segment sedan. So if we develop it on our own, there's not going to be a business case for us. So the cooperation alliance with Nissan-Renault, we have considered whether we can procure through the alliance instead of developing it completely on our own.” “As for C-segment, what about having commonality of the platform between Mitsubishi and Nissan Renault? We are about to consider these types of things.” Mitsubishi already has a strategic alliance with French conglomerate PSA that allows Peugeot and Citroen to sell a re-badged version of the ASX compact-SUV as well as sharing electric vehicle technology.

Masuko-San says there is no issue with maintaining the PSA agreement while looking at collaborating with other manufacturers.

“PSA, that is a very important alliance for us. We actually have a joint venture and operate a plant. For EV development we are cooperating with PSA and we have launched SUV too so we are going to be continuing with that,” he said.

“With the Renault-Nissan alliance, we will have an alliance where we don’t have with PSA, so it is complimentary. So I think it is going to work out because where we don’t cooperate with PSA, we have an alliance with Renault-Nissan so it’s complimentary.”

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