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Big ambitions for Mitsubishi

Future star: Mitsubishi has ambitions plans for expansion in Australia with hopes to increase sales by 50 per cent on the back of new models such as the Outlander SUV and Mirage light car (left).

50 per cent Australian sales growth target for Mitsubishi as global plans take shape

22 Oct 2012

AUSTRALIA is one the key markets in the plans of Mitsubishi Motors Corporation, Japan’s sixth-biggest car-maker, to drive its success as an international automotive player as it recovers from its disastrous loss of market share in the US over the last decade or so and looks to ASEAN to improve sales and profits.

MMC president Osamu Masuko told GoAuto last week that he believed Australia could generate 100,000 sales – an increase of about 50 per cent on current levels.

The ambitious plan comes at a time when other brands such as Mazda, Hyundai and Nissan have similar Australian volume aspirations.

Mr Masuko said Australia was important “because all the developed countries – US, Europe and Japan – are suffering economically whereas the Australian economy is not as affected”.

“I anticipate that the Australian economy will still stand strong and there is a very good growth opportunity,” he told us in a private interview.

“Therefore, we would like to consolidate our activities in Australia to increase the sales volume here. That is what I am hoping for.

 center imageFrom top: MMC president Osamu Masuko Mistubishi Outlander Outlander PHEV ASX.

“Last year we sold 62,000 units and we are targeting 67,000 units this year.”

Mr Masuko said the projected growth would come on the back of the new Mirage small car, new Outlander and next year’s Outlander PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle).

Internationally, MMC – which logged a net profit of $250 million dollars in the June quarter this year – is working on rebuilding in the United States and is looking to the ASEAN and BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) nations to drive growth.

Mr Masuko said MMC was addressing its problems in the US, a market that was previously a mainstay for the company.

He said MMC has stopped US production of the Galant mid-size sedan, Endeavour SUV and Spyder sportscar, which “were very old”.

“In July we started production of the ASX in the US,” he told us.

“This has now started to be exported from the American plant to countries such as Russia, the Middle East and Latin America.

“This will really activate the volume of the American plant (and) take stress off the high Japanese Yen.

“This is new business and I anticipate that the American business will pick up.

“We are committed to succeed in the American market. It is second to China on the world scale and to succeed in such a large market (and) having the vehicles produced there is very, very important.

“Also, unlike Japan or Europe, America is among the developed countries that are still seeing population growth due to accepting migrants. Therefore I see the sales volumes for vehicles as a great opportunity, so we will aim to increase the sales of our cars in America.”

Mr Masuko said the ASEAN countries are MMC’s biggest volume market and that the reversal of Japanese car sales in China was “very unfortunate”.

However, Mitsubishi sales in China have not been large within the ASEAN mix and therefore “this would not have a very big impact” on MMC, he said.

“A clear short-term focus for us is ASEAN.

“We have a very big plant in Thailand and we have actually produced 440,000 vehicles there this year and we are going to produce 500,000 vehicles there next year.

“The vehicles are selling well domestically and those not sold domestically are exported to ASEAN countries such as Indonesia, Philippines and Malaysia. We will put our focus on those (countries) now as well.

“And then there are many countries such as Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Bangladesh that are around the ASEAN countries that we anticipate will increase in vehicle purchases from now.

“So ASEAN is short term, and surrounding countries is middle term.

“On top of that we are also focusing on Brazil, which is short-term as well, and India, which is middle term.

“Another important (strategy) is our joint-venture plant in Russia with Peugeot-Citroen, which will start producing Outlander from November this year.

“(Outlander) is selling very well in Russia, so I see that Russia will contribute very well to our business in the short term.

“Obviously the numbers in China with a market of 18 million are very significant, so yes we are going to focus on China.

“We started a 50-50 joint venture in China in September which is a first for MMC, so the focus in China will be on that joint venture. It will first produce ASX (which is selling very well in China) followed by Triton and eventually we will probably produce Mirage.”

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