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Mitsubishi steps up SUV/LCV strategy

Sports star: Mitsubishi Motors Australia Limited (MMAL) president and CEO, John Signoriello says the Pajero Sport can do even better when it comes to sale.

New Eclipse Cross ‘and more later’ should further boost Mitsubishi sales

3 Oct 2017

MITSUBISHI will continue to prioritise SUVs and LCVs over passenger cars in Australia, even though its recently formed alliance with Renault and Nissan is expected to provide long-overdue replacements for models such as the Lancer small car.

Speaking to GoAuto at a preview of the Eclipse Cross SUV in the Northern Territory last week, Mitsubishi Motors Australia Limited (MMAL) president and CEO, John Signoriello, revealed that the strategy chosen by his predecessors to concentrate on the segments with the highest rates of growth in Australia will continue and be expanded upon in time.

“Our strategy is proven,” he said. “We’ve seen the SUV market overtake the passenger vehicle market this year for the first time. So it has proven to be the right strategy and we are getting the results at the moment, so I don’t think that strategy has to change.”

The comments support those of Mitsubishi Motors Corporation chief operating officer, Trevor Mann, who stated in June at a press conference in Australia that the first car to emerge from the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance would not arrive before 2020.

While he would not be drawn on revealing details of a Lancer replacement, Mr Mann said to expect news on what might happen in the C-segment when Mitsubishi outlines its plans at a ‘mid-term strategy’ conference on October 18.

This year Mitsubishi sales in Australia are up by 7.2 per cent to the end of August compared with the same period last year.

The ASX crossover has edged out the Mazda CX-3 for small SUV leadership despite its age, the Outlander mid-size SUV has achieved a 41 per cent boost to place it in the top five best sellers in the segment and the Triton pick-up has defended third place behind the perennially popular Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger.

Such volume increases, combined with still-respectable showings from the ageing Pajero and decade-old Lancer, could see MMAL overtake Ford for fifth place overall.

Mr Signoriello said while the seven-seat Triton-based Pajero Sport has enjoyed a 22 per cent sales spike this year, it could be doing even better.

“The Pajero Sport is an underrated vehicle and we’ve got to get it out there more. It is a car that’s got a lot more potential than what we’re realising with it,” he said.

Mr Signoriello added that a lot of hard work had gone into elevating Mitsubishi in the nine years since its Australian manufacturing operations were shut down, and that now the company was looking forward to the next phase of growth as a result.

“It is an awesome time to be part of the organisation and to be in the position we are in,” he said. “There’s a lot happening from a product perspective, like the new Eclipse Cross, and more later next year as well.

“And then there we’ve got the opportunities that the Alliance brings longer term… so, I guess, initially we will play it low-key and it will be steady as she goes, take advantage of new products, and look at what opportunities are brought forward.

“I think it’s a great time to be part of Mitsubishi, we’ve got a really good and solid foundation and it’s a matter of growing it from there.

“We’ve gone from a manufacturer to an importer, and we’ve done everything we needed to do to be recognised as a full importer, so we have a very strong foundation to take the next step as we are getting the new products coming through.”

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