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Tables turn as Mitsubishi’s Australian sales rebound

High hopes: Mitsubishi is hoping the recently updated ASX will compete well against rivals with a diesel/automatic combination.

Mitsubishi Australia well on track to reach – and better – bold 2013 sales target

Mitsubishi logo4 Jul 2013


REMOVING complexity from both its model range and corporate structure has been a key driver for a resurgent Mitsubishi Motors Australia Limited, says local sales director Greg Cook.

Mistubishi had its best ever month as a full-line importer in June, recording 9257 sales on the back of huge months for the Triton ute (3456), Outlander SUV (1251, up 78.2 per cent) and the all new Mirage (1501 sales).

Its half-yearly figure of 37,327 sales was also a record for its time as a full-line importer, and falls shy only of June 1998, in which the company sold about 9500 vehicles – 4000 of which were the Australian-made Magna.

The half-year sales figure puts the company well on track to reach its stated goal for 2013 of 70,000 sales, up from 58,868 in 2012.

Mitsubishi’s strategy to generate sales concentrates on simplifying the range (reducing the number of variants for each model, thereby making things logistically easier), and focusing on four key volume models – ASX, Outlander, Triton and Mirage.

According to Mr Cook, the company has also benefited greatly in Australia by shedding its ‘manufacturer mentality’ – it stopped making the 380 sedan here in March 2008 – and developing a more driven, targeted sales focus.

“We were a very complex company and I think one of the things Oshikiri (MMAL president and CEO Mutsuhiro Oshikiri) has done is remove the complexity. We are going from a very complex company to a sales organisation,” he said.

“I think we had a lingering effect of manufacturing. A manufacturing environment is very fixed. We have shifted our focus from manufacturing to a regional sales focus.”

The cultural shake-up at Mitsubishi included fundamental changes in higher management last month, with four newly appointed directors now covering sales, aftersales, marketing and corporate services.

Speaking to media earlier this year, Mr Oshikiri said MMAL had “to change the company or we will not survive.”

 center imageFrom top: Regional sales director Greg Cook and Mitsubishi Triton.

Despite its age, Triton ute sales are being kept buoyant by marketing just a handful of variants rather than offering a larger complex range, as well as undertaking a significant, targeted advertising campaign.

“Through 2012 and 2013 we started to get some (Triton) models right. I’m very very big on (having) less models but selling more of them, so that’s a simple strategy,” said Mr Cook.

“We focused on GLX Plus and GLX-R. We tested our strategy back in February, we put a really aggressive offer on in February, met the market, the value was perfect so we know where that sits so we’ll back off for a little while and give it a real crack in May and June.”“And 3000 4x4 sales was a real success story.”

Last months record breaking result was also helped, in part, by a best ever month for the Mirage sales, with 1501 buyers getting into the baby town car just six months after its introduction.

Because the Mirage’s Colt predecessor was such a niche seller, almost all 1501 of these sales constituted a direct addition to Mitsubishi’s range total.

“The light section is not really growing that much so we have really made ingrains in to that light segment with Mirage and 1500 sales,” said Mr Cook.

The same cannot be said for the small SUV segment, which is currently Australia’s fastest growing. Mitsubishi has high hopes with its newly revised ASX, which we reviewed this week (see separate story linked below).

ASX sales last month (604) fell behind competitors like the Nissan Dualis (1766) and Hyundai ix35 (a massive 2225), but the recently added diesel/auto combination is expected to boost interest in the model.

Mr Cook told GoAuto that Mitsubishi believes ASX is one of its biggest opportunities for growth.

“The compact SUV segment is the fastest-growing segment in Australia, and if one of our competitors can sell 1700 of their product in June we think we can definitely do better than 600,” he said.

The aging Lancer small-car (a new-generation will arrive in 2014) may not be selling with the success of previous years, but it still managed 1753 sales in June (up 7.7 per cent), making it the number two model for Mitsubishi last month.

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