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Mitsubishi Australia returning to van market

Peak-hour Trafic: Built in the same facility in Sandouville, France that produces the Renault Trafic (pictured), Mitsubishi Australia’s new van is expected to go on sale before 2020.

Renault Trafic-based Mitsubishi van set to launch Down Under before 2020

9 Nov 2018

By TUNG NGUYEN in BANGKOK

MITSUBISHI Motors Australia Limited is set to return to the light-commercial van segment before 2020 with a new model based on its Alliance partner Renault’s Trafic mid-size van.
 
Speaking to journalists at the launch of the facelifted Triton in Bangkok, Thailand, Mitsubishi Motors Corporation chief operating officer Trevor Mann confirmed that the new van would be exclusively offered to the Australian and New Zealand markets at this stage.
 
“Just after Mitsubishi joined the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, there was a strong request, actually from the local team in Australia, to have more of an LCV offering,” he said .
 
“Renault, obviously now one of our Alliance partners, is extremely strong in LCVs, particular vans … which are also on sale in Australia.
 
“At the moment, it’s an Australian request, and New Zealand.”
 
Mr Mann said the expected on-sale date would be before 2020, and that the new van will be produced from the same facility that builds the Renault Trafic.
 
“We made the request to Renault, and at the moment we’ve signed a letter of intent so we fully intend to do this, we know the van … it will be based on the Trafic,” he said. “It will be manufactured in Sandouville in France, and it will come to Australia as soon as we can dot the i’s and cross the t’s.
 
“If I get my way, it will be sooner (than 2020), but I’ll let you know as soon as we’ve done it.”
 
The name of the van is currently unknown, but Mitsubishi had a contender in the van segment in the form of the Express that was discontinued in 2013 due to its sub-standard one-star Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) crash safety rating.
 
Although Renault’s current-generation Trafic has not received an ANCAP rating, in Euro NCAP testing, the French van scored three stars due to average results in the front occupant and pedestrian safety examination.
 
Powertrains and specifications are also not yet confirmed, but Renault’s Trafic is currently available in Australia with either a 103kW/340Nm 1.6-litre twin-turbo diesel or 85kW/300Nm 1.6-litre single-turbo oil burner, both paired exclusively to a six-speed manual driving the front wheels.
 
While each Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance marque has maintained its own distinct identity so far in its products, the new Mitsubishi van will be the first model in the Japanese brand’s stable to share a platform with another partner.
 
However, Mr Mann said the cross-brand tie-up will be less of a problem in the van space than with a passenger vehicle.
 
“I’m not a huge fan of cross-badging, if you like, but on LCVs, it doesn’t matter so much,” he said. “The LCV industry is full of cross badges because you don’t necessarily buy the van because of the badge, you buy it because of the service you get, the relationship with the dealer, or in a pool with other fleet.”
 
Renault chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn, in France to announce the expansion of the brand’s van production, also confirmed that Nissan’s new NV250 will share the same underpinnings as the French marque’s Kangoo.
 
“Groupe Renault’s global van expertise is driving synergies across the Alliance to benefit all our customers,” he said.
 
“The Maubeuge (where Kangoo is built) and Sandouville plants provided the most attractive solution thanks to the competitiveness and ability to leverage Alliance common platforms.
 
“This year, Groupe Renault has announced a total investment in France of 1.4 billion euro to support two pillars of growth: pure electric and light-commercial vehicles.”

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