Mitsubishi Motors, part of the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi triumvirate, recently announced that it is freezing all new model introductions to Europe.
This is believed to be the first step in a complete withdrawal, leaving its partners to service this market.
The announcement is part of an overhaul plan for 2020 to 2022, which Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) calls its “Small but Beautiful” plan.
We spoke with Nic Campbell, General Manager of Mitsubishi Motors SA (MMSA), about the impact of this decision on the South African operations. In South Africa, Mitsubishi is represented by Motus.
In this ’Small but Beautiful’ plan, Mitsubishi announced it would focus on core regions like Asia, Africa and South America. It implies that Mitsubishi will exit Europe to concentrate its resources and technologies in regions with growth potential instead of an all-round expansion strategy, but it also implies that South Africa will remain a core part of the business, especially for its role and position on the continent.
In the same plan, MMC announced that production of the much beloved and respected Pajero will come to an end next year. According to Nic, MMSA has enough stock of the Pajero and will continue selling and marketing this SUV until production ends. The current Parejo range consists of a three- and a five-door model, both fitted with the group’s 3.2 DI-DC turbodiesel engine with 140 kW and 441 Nm.
“We look forward to introducing new models to the South African market within the next two years such as the Xpander and the Mirage and will finalise the list as soon as more details are available,” says Nic.
The Xpander Cross is a seven-seater people-mover like Honda’s BR-V and the Toyota Rush. Power will be provided by a normally aspirated 1.5 litre petrol engine, which is not the same unit as the turbo-charged 1.5 litre engine found in the Eclipse Cross-model. The Mirage was available for a part of its previous life cycle and it will compete against the likes of the Toyota Aygo, Kia Picanto, Hyundai i10 and a few others.
"Market conditions are tough for everyone, but we have a strong foothold and a strong following. On local soil, we are running a successful zero deposit campaign on various models, which is extremely popular, and we will continue with offers that are attractive to customers during these conditions," he says.
In other news, international media have reported that the next generation Triton and Pajero Sport will probably share a platform with the next generation Nissan Navara, while the next Outlander and Nissan X-Trail could drive on the same new platform and share engines. The new Eclipse Hybrid is not on the cards for South Africa.
Currently, Mitsubishi Motors South Africa has 41 selling and 52 servicing dealerships, nine privately owned and the rest part of larger automotive groups in the country.
Isuzu Motors South Africa (IMSAf) has appointed Marcia Noxolo Mayaba as the new department executive for dealer and business development.
Mercedes-Benz is to launch five full battery electric vehicles (BEV) in the South African market in 2022.
Audi South Africa announced a partnership with GridCars to install ultra-fast charging stations across the country and will become the first electric vehicle brand to invest in this technology through publicly accessible sites.