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Mitsu hatches Lancer plan

Lancer lot: 2.4 Luxury, diesel and Sportback (above) versions will soon bolster the Lancer line-up.

Mitsubishi Oz looks to more than double Lancer sales via the sexy new Sportback

22 Jul 2008

MITSUBISHI Australia is expecting a massive boost in sales of its most important model. The importer, which is selling more cars than it did when it was producing the 380 sedan locally, is eagerly awaiting a Lancer hatch version arrives in September.

Mitsubishi has sold an average of 1750 Lancers so far this year, despite only having a sedan version, and Mitsubishi Motors Australia Limited president Rob McEniry told GoAuto that he expected the new Sportback to account for 50 per cent or more of Lancer sales.

“We have only just finished the clinics and we think that our split may be richer towards hatch,” Mr McEniry said.

“That doesn’t mean that we will lose sedan in that either in the total volume, but we think there will be a bit of upsale (from the sedan).”

If the rate runs at 50 per cent hatch and there is only minimal drop-off in sedan volume, the Lancer would break through the 3000 mark and become a serious sales contender.

21 center image Mr McEniry said MMAL was playing it safe when it came to sales projections, with an official target of 2500 Lancer sales a month.

“We conservatively would say about 2500 and that is very conservative,” he said.

Mr McEniry concedes that availability out of Japan is likely to be the company’s biggest issue.

He said the Sportback would be popular among people looking at downsizing.

“We think will attract another market. And the good thing is that people are coming down (from larger cars) and it is going to be a very good option for them,” he said. “It is quite a unique vehicle.”

Mr McEniry said practicality would be one of the Sportback’s biggest strengths.

“It is quite a unique entrant in that segment,” he said. “Most of those hatches are quite flat-back, very little space. This has got some trick things like fold-up seats, a very flat floor, if you look at some of the others you have to fold the seats up and you don’t get a flat floor. It is sort of semi wagon and semi hatch.”

Results of marketing clinics in Sydney and Melbourne for the Sportback were very positive.

“The thing that came out of the research was that it was very Euro in its looks and very sporty. We were pleasantly surprised,” said McEniry.

Mitsubishi will offer the Sportback in regular trim levels, but it will also be offered as a sporty Ralliart model.

The company is also expecting additional sales from a new 2.4 Luxury sedan that will be introduced at the same time as the Sportback.

A diesel engine will also be available with Lancer and the Outlander compact SUV before the end of the year.

Mr McEniry said MMAL made the right decision to say yes to diesel for Lancer, and also for Outlander, despite the fact that the price of diesel had risen more than petrol recently.

Even so, he admits diesel doesn’t look as good as it did a few months ago.

“It’s probably not as attractive, but as the green diesels come in - the next generation of smaller turbocharged green diesels that are far more fuel efficient and CO2 friendlier - I think you will start to see that start to come back,” Mr McEniry said.

“The next generation (of diesels) are more economical so that will attract back some of those buyers who have perhaps look at diesel prices when they have driven past a service station billboard and thought, ‘my God’.”

Read more:

First look: Lancer Sportback set for Paris debut

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