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Passenger cars still have a role: Mitsubishi

Numbers game: Although SUVs are quickly becoming the preferred vehicle of choice globally, Mitsubishi says passenger cars, such as the Lancer (left) and Mirage (below) could still serve as entry points into its brand in the future.

Possible future Mitsubishi Mirage and Lancer to share platforms with Alliance

14 Nov 2018


MITSUBISHI Motors Corporation chief operating officer Trevor Mann says passenger vehicles are still vital for the car-maker’s ambitions of growth and profitability, despite the global decline in sales and the high uptake of SUVS.
Speaking to journalists in Thailand at the reveal of the facelifted Triton, Mr Mann said passenger cars were still important as an entry point to Mitsubishi.
“We are in the process of developing what we call our long-range product plan, what we are doing there is just studying the market and trying to decide where we should go,” he said.
“If you look at the car parc today there are many small hatches, there are many medium sized sedans, particularly  in ASEAN and to some extent Oceania, China and the US. In Europe sedans have been dominated by the premiums I guess over recent years.
“But the general trend is to move towards SUVs, so at the moment the profitability on sedan and small-to-medium sedan vehicles is squeezed because people are trying to justify their existing capacity.
“Obviously as a brand you need entry vehicles, you need to ideally bring somebody into your brand and then walk through the brand as their lifestyle changes, be it financial or family-driven.
“We are reviewing our long-range product plan – we’re not saying yes, we’re not saying no – but obviously we’ve got some ideas in the pipeline.”
Meanwhile, Mitsubishi Motors Corporation corporate vice-president of product strategy Vincent Cobee said passenger vehicles still represent a large portion of the global volume, strengthening the business case for a reborn Lancer small car and next-generation Mirage light car.
“If we project ourselves five years, the total global market will be 110-115 million cars and the passenger cars will still represent 40-50 million,” he said.
“I know all of you guys write about the growth and emergence of SUVs and it’s correct, its 35-37 per cent of the total market today and it’s still growing. But that doesn’t eradicate the fact that there will be 40-50 million cars that will be traditional passenger cars.
“It is very clear … the strong (progress) of the Mitsubishi brand is four-wheel drive, SUV, ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) and all of that is supporting the development of those cars and the development of the Pajero Sport and the trilogy of Outlander, Eclipse Cross and ASX.
“What we have said is that as a complimentary offer to enable customers to enter the franchise, and to also satisfy the CO2 regulations, and to cater to those 40 million customers, we will investigate the possibility to look at passenger cars – so we have in our wish list, some intention to do passenger cars.
“We are contemplating which kinds of segments, which kinds of destinations, while acknowledging the slowly downward trend of that segment, but for sure not a disappearance.”
Mr Mann confirmed work has already begun on the successor to the Mirage light hatch, which has been in service since 2012.
“We haven’t announced anything on the next Mirage, (but) we will be converging on platforms,” he said.
“So the Alliance has a platform which it calls CMF-B, so it’s likely that the next Mirage will be on the CMF-B platform, but not decided yet.”
The aforementioned CMF-B platform is also expected to underpin the next-generation Nissan Juke, Renault Clio and Captur all due in the next few years, while the Lancer could also migrate to Alliance architecture, revealed Mr Mann.
“It (next Lancer) wouldn’t necessarily be on the Megane platform, if we are talking about passenger vehicles, depending on the size, it would be on the CMF-C platform,” he said.
Locally, Mitsubishi’s passenger cars – the Mirage hatchback and Lancer – combine to account for 6289 sales in the first 10 months of the year, or around 8.9 per cent of its total 70,685 units.
However, with Lancer production shut down last August, the Mirage will be the brand’s sole nameplate going forward.

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