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Mitsubishi Express successor on backburner

Only one: Mitsubishi's next-generation Triton was previewed by the GR-HEV concept at Geneva and will likely be the company's only LCV offering.

Triton to be Mitsubishi's sole light-commercial offering as SUVs take focus

Mitsubishi logo21 Nov 2013


MITSUBISHI Motors Corporation has ruled out introducing more light-commercial vehicles to its line-up beyond the Triton workhorse as it tightens its focus to SUVs and green technology, making a successor to the discontinued Express van unlikely for now.

Japan's fifth-largest car-maker confirmed it would stick with the Triton only, rather than adding to its stable of LCVs, despite a greater focus on emerging markets where such vehicles are popular.

Speaking at the unveiling of its three concept vehicles at the Tokyo motor show, Mitsubishi Motors Corporation managing director and head officer of product projects and strategy group Ryugo Nakao said the company's LCV range would continue with the Triton, for the time being at least.

“As of today, we want to focus on the one-tonne pick-up trucks and if we can afford more resources in the future, maybe we can consider development for other LCV but so far we haven’t considered expansion,” he said.

The current Triton went on sale in Australia at the beginning of 2006 and is due to be replaced by an all-new model – previewed by the GR-HEV concept from the Geneva motor show – sometime next year.

Initially, the next-gen Triton will feature a diesel powertrain, but Mitsubishi Motors Corporation president Osamu Masuko confirmed the car-maker will add a hybrid variant – as previewed by the concept - 18 months after its release, pointing to a 2016 launch.

“I think the direction for that (Triton) is hybrid,” he said. “Not PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle), I believe it is hybrid. The reason for that is because the main markets for this product are actually the emerging markets” Car-makers have been slow to introduce hybrid technology to their light-commercial vehicles, but a number of companies now offer the green tech in their utility line-ups.

In the United States, GMC and Chevrolet sell hybrid versions of their Sierra and Silverado respectively, while Toyota and Ford recently ended an agreement that saw the two automotive giants collaborating on hybrid technology for their next-generation pick-ups.

Both companies chose to go it alone and will continue to develop the technology for their workhorses that will likely show up in models released later this decade.

Mitsubishi's decision to maintain a one-vehicle LCV line-up means a replacement for the Express van is now unlikely.

The Express went on sale in Australia in the early 1980s, but the most recent version that was introduced in 2003 was discontinued by the Japanese car-maker's local arm earlier this year.

The company said at the time this was due to the van's low one-star ANCAP crash safety rating which conflicted with the company's push for a five-star line-up.

Despite the Triton's age, it continues to sell in big numbers in Australia and is currently the brand's top-selling vehicle for the year, with combined front-wheel and all-wheel drive sales of 19,788 to the end of October.

This puts the Triton around 9000 units ahead of the next best-selling Mitsubishi model, the Lancer with 10,643 sales for the year to date.

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