Word broke this morning in the UK that Mitsubishi Motors there had written to its UK franchised dealer partners to inform them of the Japanese car manufacturer’s plan to exit their market as well as the European new car markets. That followed an announcement by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) at its board of directors meeting earlier today.
The company had succumbed to the increasingly challenging environmental regulations. In Mitsubishi Motor Corporation’s (MMC) announcement today said that it had no choice but to reduce its fixed costs by 20 per cent and focus on investment in core markets where it sees potential.
A business structure centred on Asia is envisaged and the European move is seen as improving operating profit by downsizing low-profit businesses.
It appears that importers will continue to sell the cars currently offered until such a time that they no longer comply with European regulations. MMC is freezing the introduction of new models into Europe with immediate effect. This means that there will be no launch of the new Eclipse Cross plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) and the next-generation Outlander PHEV will not be introduced either.
While it appears that dealerships will have supplies of current model ranges until they are discontinued gradually, and a parts and aftersales network will continue longer-term.
The even bigger picture
Last month Mitsubishi’s Alliance partners, Renault and Nissan, both announced details of global efforts to cut costs and improve efficiencies across their manufacturing operations.
The three brands Alliance plans to increase their sharing of technology and production are estimated to cut model development costs by up to a massive 40 per cent. As part of the revised structure, Renault has been named the lead brand in Europe, with Nissan taking the lead in Japan, North America and China and Mitsubishi the focus for South-East Asia and Oceania. It appears that Nissan will also continue to sell a number of successful models in Europe.
What about here in Ireland?
Mitsubishi Motors Ireland says it is “disappointed” by today’s announcement that the brand intends to freeze the introduction of new models to the European market.
It said that despite the announcement they remain fully committed to both our customers and dealer network. It didn’t give a specific timeline, but it says that sales of existing models will continue, as will after-sales and services.
Their statement added: “We will continue to sell our existing models and look after our existing and future customers through our dedicated after-sales and service departments”.
Mitsubishi was first introduced here in 1984 and has enjoyed a good reputation for Japanese reliability and quality engineering. Since the brand debuted here, it has introduced more than 25 models and sold more than 100,000 vehicles.
There are 18 sales dealerships and a further 5 aftersales dealers (service and parts) in the network in the Republic. For the year to date (after 6 months of 2020), Mitsubishi’s pandemic-impacted car sales were just 253 (a market-share of 0.48%) and it is in 24th. place in the brand’s sales table. In a similar period last year, it had 675 new car sales and a market-share of 0.84 per cent. Their best selling car in the first six months of this year was the Outlander SUV with 173 sales.
In light commercials, Mitsubishi is in fourteenth place with 119 units sold in the first six months of 2020. It had a market-share of 1.13 per cent. In a similar period last year, it had sold 174 units, and had a market-share slightly bigger at 1.14 per cent. Their best seller in the first half of this yera was is the L200 pick-up, with 92 units. Incidentally, that was up 24 per cent on the similar period last year.
The Mitsubishi Motors range includes an SUV – the Outlander PHEV, which is the world’s bestselling PHEV. Their line-up also includes the diesel-engined pick-up truck – the L200, which is the Irish Commercial SUV of the Year 2020. The five model line-up is completed by the Eclipse Cross – a sporty SUV; Space Star – a sporty, agile hatchback; and the ASX – a practical and economical SUV.
Mitsubishi Motors UK has three sales dealerships and a further one aftersales dealer (service and parts) in their network in Northern Ireland.