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New York show: Mitsubishi confirms new medium SUV

Size matters: The eX concept from last year’s Tokyo motor show is likely to be the basis for the next-generation ASX, which will shrink in size compared with the current model.

Mitsubishi to launch CX-5-rivalling mid-sizer, downsize ASX and grow next Outlander

27 Mar 2016


MITSUBISHI Motors has outlined its new SUV strategy that includes introducing an all-new mid-size SUV that will push the next-generation Outlander up into the large-SUV segment to pump gloves with the Toyota Kluger.

The plan that will roll out by the end of the decade also includes plans to shrink the 2017 ASX down to Mazda CX-3 size.

Speaking to Australian journalists at the New York motor show last week, Mitsubishi Motors of North America executive vice-president Don Swearingen reiterated the company’s plan to focus on SUVs, pitching no less than three small-to-medium crossovers in place of ageing or discontinued nameplates including Lancer and Galant respectively.

“This is the strategy we’re going with, and we’ve just announced this to our dealers a couple of weeks ago,” he stated.

“Mitsubishi will take the next Outlander, which will grow in width and in length the Outlander Sport (ASX of North America), which is our number-one seller in the US, we will take that down a little bit in size, and if you look at the (eX Concept) prototype we just showed in Geneva, it will be formed over that car and then we will come in the middle with a new CUV (Crossover Utility Vehicle),” he said.

“I think we are clearly seeing consumers moving away from sedans and going into CUVs, and we feel we need three cars in that segment.”

The mid-size SUV is said to be about the size of the highly successful Mazda CX-5, creating a logical walk up from the downsized next-gen ASX to the larger new Outlander, which will most likely become a Toyota Kluger and Kia Sorento competitor.

The new ASX is expected to be revealed first, likely during 2017, followed by the mid-size SUV in 2018, while the new, larger Outlander will be uncovered before the end of the decade.

“You’ll see that Mitsubishi will come with a new model vehicle every year between now and 2020,” Mr Swearingen said. Each SUV will offer electrification, cementing Mitsubishi’s growing global reputation as a leader in low-emissions crossovers, as witnessed by the Outlander PHEV.

“Our plan with these three SUVs is to also have fully electric or plug-in hybrid versions of each vehicle,” he said.

“And you’re going to see that with improvements because it will be the next level of battery technology for us.”

Mr Swearingen added that performance versions will also be spun off some or all of the hybrid SUVs, to help connect the future green vision with Mitsubishi’s illustrious motorsport heritage made famous by now-defunct nameplates such as the Lancer Evo.

“You will most likely see a performance version of a CUV in the future too,” he said.

“What’s key for us is brand awareness… we don’t have the marketing expense of a Toyota or a Ford or a GM, so we have to be very smart as to how we do it.

“We look at the public awareness of all of our names, and consider whether we’ll use them again, or determine whether we actually start from scratch and build a new awareness. It costs a lot of money to do it, we’ll evaluate the business case, and make the decision from there.”

There is still no word on the future of the ageing full-sized Pajero, but the Triton pick-up and its Pajero Sport passenger-vehicle offshoot will continue.

What’s coming – Mitsubishi’s new SUV strategy

2017 – Smaller ASX
2018 – New mid-size SUV
2019 – Larger Outlander IV

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