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Mitsubishi expected to take lead on Alliance ute
Expertise in ladder-frame chassis and off-road prowess puts Mitsubishi at the fore
13 Nov 2018
By TUNG NGUYEN in BANGKOK
MITSUBISHI Motors Corporation will likely lead development of a new-generation ladder-frame platform that will underpin various pick-ups in the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance including the next Triton, Navara and Alaskan, as well as potentially more.
Speaking to international journalists at the facelifted Triton’s unveiling in Thailand, Mitsubishi Motors Corporation chief operating officer Trevor Mann said each partner in the Alliance would play to its strengths in next-generation vehicle development.
“We have 4x4 expertise, and we have framed vehicle expertise,” he said. “Obviously Nissan also has a level of 4x4 ability, but I think what we have in terms of S-AWC (Super All-wheel Control), that defines our brand and is a brand differentiator.
“It’s not a promise but if you look at the expertise we have (it makes sense for Mitsubishi to lead development).”
While Mr Mann admitted that each brand would be “converging (on) common platforms”, he was adamant that each of the Alliance’s platform-sharing models would carry its own distinct flavour.
“Everything the customer sees, touches, feels will be Mitsubishi,” he said. “And those platforms will be jointly developed, but based on the expertise question, the company with the most expertise at a certain category would take the lead, which is why I intimated we would be the potential leader for frame platforms.”
Mr Mann also cited plug-in hybrid powertrain technology as another Mitsubishi strength, while the recent expansion of two of Renault’s van facilities suggests the French brand’s forte could be in other light-commercial vehicles.
Renault also brings expertise in performance cars with its ties to Formula 1 and its two hot hatch offerings, the Clio and Megane RS, as well as the Alpine A110.
Nissan meanwhile, could lead the Alliance on full-battery electric vehicle technology with its second-generation Leaf and range-extending e-Power systems, while the GT-R gives the Alliance a bona fide supercar from which to draw knowledge.
Mr Mann however, was quick to dismiss the idea that the updated Triton would be the last all-Mitsubishi pick-up, saying: “You’re certainly not going to see the last Mitsubishi anything.
“We shouldn’t talk about the last all-Mitsubishi because we didn’t see the last all Nissan in the Renault-Nissan Alliance,” he said.
“We will continue to develop vehicles with the Mitsubishi engineers … and marketed through our local team and dealers.
“We will always be Mitsubishi, the purpose of the Alliance is to ensure we can maximise synergies of being part of an 11 million per year automotive group, rather than, in our case, being a one or 1.2 million vehicle sales operation.
“Access to technologies, which is very, very important as the requirements are coming for connectivity, for autonomous drive, for emissions control … that would be extremely difficult to for us as a one million-plus brand.
“It means you can share powertrains, it means you can share platforms, how you tune those platforms, you tune them with your own engineers, how fit them to the vehicle, how it touches, how it feels will always be Mitsubishi.
“Would a generation of pick-up in the future have a common platform with Renault and Nissan? Yes, it could, but this does not detract from the Mitsubishi-ness in our vehicles.”
The current fifth-generation Triton was launched globally in 2014 and landed in Australian showrooms in 2015, and with the new facelift revealed in 2018 for a 2019 on-sale date, the new-generation pick-up could surface in about 2022.
However, the fate of other shared vehicles outside of the Alliance, such as the Navara-based Mercedes-Benz X-Class and Triton-based Fiat Fullback, is still unclear.
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