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Tokyo show: Mitsubishi running out of Lancer options

Light lift: Mitsubishi’s Lancer is set to get yet another facelift as the Japanese company continues its search for a partner to co-develop the car.

Mitsubishi admits it has not yet found a partner to share the next-gen Lancer

Mitsubishi logo29 Oct 2015

By RON HAMMERTON in TOKYO

MITSUBISHI’S search for a motor industry partner to share the development costs of its next Lancer appears to have stalled, with the company admitting it is not currently engaged in negotiations with any prospects.

The Japanese company had tried to negotiate a model sharing arrangement with Renault, but talks fell through earlier this year.

The current plan is to launch a facelifted Lancer in an attempt to reinvigorate sales of the ageing model, while at the same time pressing on with internal preparation for a new model until such time that a deal can be struck.

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation president and chief operating officer Tetsuro Aikawa told Australian journalists at the Tokyo motor show that Mitsubishi was still looking for another motor company to share the development of the C-segment car.

“We were negotiating (with Renault) and trying to work out the feasibility, but the business case did not work out, so we stopped negotiating,” he said.

“With the Lancer at the moment, we are going to continue with the current product – strengthening the current product – but we are still going to be looking for OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers).

“One thing I can say is that to develop a sedan by ourselves is very difficult to do.”

Mr Aikawa said finding a partner for such a project also was very difficult.

“If we can find a partner, then as soon as possible we like to start work with this partner. But right now, we can’t find a partner,” he said.

Mitsubishi currently has a number of model-sharing deals with other companies.

These include an upcoming project to share the new L200 Triton one-tonne ute with Fiat.

The Triton is set to get a light makeover – mainly the front fascia and other trim items – for the Fiat version that, like the Triton, will be built on Mitsubishi’s production line in Thailand and sold in Latin America.

As well, Mitsubishi shares micro cars with Nissan in the Japanese market, and also re-badges its Mirage light car for Chrysler in Mexico. It also shared its SUVs with Peugeot, though that relationship is also on tenuous ground according to Peugeot.

The current Lancer was launched in 2007, and is thus one of the oldest small cars in the biggest segment in the Australian market.

Mitsubishi Motors Australia Ltd (MMAL) has yet to confirm its plans for the facelifted Lancer that has been revealed in public relations images.

The mild makeover misses out on Mitsubishi’s new Dynamic Shield design language that has been front and centre on all new models shown recently.

The Lancer is not the only ageing vehicle in the Mitsubishi range, with the Pajero large SUV also set to soldier on for the foreseeable future.

Mitsubishi has hitched its wagon very firmly to the SUV boom, focussing almost all its efforts on new SUVs and crossovers.

Mr Aikawa confirmed at the motor show that Mitsubishi was planning to add a new compact SUV to the global range by about 2017.

He said the new vehicle would be based on the new Outlander platform and slotted between the small ASX and the Outlander.

He also hinted that the new, unnamed vehicle would be on the premium side of the scale, setting it apart from the slightly smaller ASX that also is in for replacement before 2019.

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