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Mitsubishi's 380 double take

Value: 380 LE knocks $4500 off the base variant's recommended retail price.

Mitsubishi marks the start of its 380 'relaunch' with a $29,990 limited-edition

17 Feb 2006

MITSUBISHI Motors Australia will "relaunch" its all-new 380 large sedan after slow sales have forced it to discount the car and to suspend production for three weeks during March.

The latest revelation follows the company’s announcement last month that it would cut 250 factory jobs through voluntary redundancies and scale back production of the 380 from 32,000 to 27,000 for the first 12 months.

As GoAuto reported last week, its latest LE limited-edition model unveiled at the Melbourne International Motor Show last week has extra features and slashes $4500 from the recommended retail price of the base model to startfrom $29,990.

Mitsubishi Australia president Robert McEniry said the LE was a reaction to the 380’s slow sales to date but was not a "discount car" per se. He also said he remained true to his word in "protecting the value" of the vehicle.

"This is a normal part of marketing in any category – that you do value packs to stimulate the market – so I don’t think it should be interpreted outside that context," he said.

He also said it represented the beginning of a "relaunch program" for the large sedan.

"Launching the car in the period (October) that it was launched last year – as the market starts to go away and the extraordinary competitiveness and the fuel prices – wasn’t the ideal time to launch it.

"So as we go into the growth cycle again, it is appropriate to relaunch it.

"I don’t know if it’ll get to 2500 (380 sales) a month early, but that’s wherewe’re still targeting. As we said, we’re waiting for the fleets to come back in – we’re waiting to relaunch the car – and the dealer response and customer response, even before we started to advertise it (the LE), has been very good.

"We’ll keep doing what I said we’d do, and that’s manage the inventory to what the market is – and not get forced into having to force-discount cars ... We’ll keep trimming the sail to the market – as the market comes back, we can go up if the market stays flat, we’ll remain at the same point."According to VFACTS figures, Mitsubishi sold 1650 380s in November, 947 in December and 719 in January.

As for the i mini car shown in Melbourne, which is a relation to the Smart ForTwo, Mr McEniry said it had strong marketing potential for the Mitsubishi brand but was not deemed a volume seller.

"Like any brand, you try and have some image or lead cars to both expand the range and to bring new technologies into the total range," he said.

"Clearly, it’s aimed at the young opinion-leader group, and if it’s accepted it actually allows us to introduce a new customer group early into Mitsubishi’s total product range/"It won’t be super-cheap ... it’ll be just under the Colt, or somewhere around there."

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