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Mitsubishi chases export growth

Executive decision: Mitsubishi is pushing the Magna Executive against Commodore, Camry and Nissan Maxima in the Middle East.

Up to 10,000 Magnas could be sold in the Middle East by 2003

6 Dec 2000

MITSUBISHI Motors Australia is hoping a revitalised export program will see it selling 10,000 Magnas in the Middle East by 2003.

MMAL managing director Tom Phillips announced the target after hosting distributor representatives from Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Lebanon and Bahrain.

If Mitsubishi succeeds in achieving that target, it would be worth about $250 million to the Adelaide-based manufacturer.

MMAL has only exported about 100 cars to the Middle East this year but expects an initial order of between 3000 and 5000 cars.

Total exports are currently running at about 11,000 per annum, with most of those accounted for by left-hand drive Diamantes to the US.

Mr Phillips said his aim was to boost export sales of Magna-based models to 30,000 worldwide within three years.

To increase Middle East volume, Mitsubishi will replace the luxurious model currently offered - essentially a Diamante - with a slightly respecified Executive.

That means the Magna will line up against Australian-built Holden Commodores (rebadged as Chevrolet Luminas) and Toyota Camrys in the Middle East, as well as Nissan Maxima.

The announcement of Mid-East interest is another boost for the company, which has endured constant speculation about its future as a manufacturer in Australia.

However, a $172 million capital injection from head office in Japan has allayed those fears in the short-term.

That money will be used to wipe out a 2000 operating loss expected to be in the $150 million region, for plant investment and development of the Middle East program.

Meanwhile, Mr Phillips has confirmed the speculation about the company's future damaged November sales results. But showroom floor traffic has returned to normal levels in the wake of the cash injection.

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