Mitsubishi unveils future alliance and model plans
27 November 2018
Author: Rachel Boagey
At the unveiling of the L200 in Bangkok, Mitsubishi's COO talks about the brand's future direction. Rachel Boagey reports
Mitsubishi will continue to focus on 'Mitsubishiness' following its recent alliance with Renault and Nissan, Trevor Mann, chief operating officer of Mitsubishi revealed at a conference in Bangkok at the launch of the L200 pick-up truck.
The brand entered a strategic alliance earlier this year with the partnership already created by Renault Nissan, and at the conference attended by BusinessCar, Mann was keen to outline the reasons behind Mitsubishi joining such an alliance.
"We shouldn't talk about 'the last all-Mitsubishi' because we didn't see the last all-Nissan in the Renault Nissan alliance, and we're certainly not going to see the last Mitsubishi anything," explained Mann.
He noted that the brand will continue to have its own Mitsubishi engineers to produce its cars and vans as well as using its own marketing team to maintain the brand's individual identity. Mitsubishi dealers will also remain.
Of course, there are many benefits to the alliance with Renault and Nissan, and many reasons that Mitsubishi chose to go down that path.
"The purpose of the alliance is to maximise the synergies of the alliance's 11 billion vehicle sales a year rather than, in our case, 1.2 million vehicle sales. We will get access to technology, and can share technology platforms and vehicle platforms, which are all great benefits.
"However, I'd like to stress that we will always be Mitsubishi. Our cars will always feel and drive like Mitsubishis. In terms of the brand we're independent although we've embarked on this alliance," he continued.
The launch of the L200 pick-up raised some questions about the future of the vehicle as well as others in Mitsubishi's line-up considering the alliance.
"Will a future version of the L200 have a common platform with the alliance in the future? Yes it could, but again, that will not detract from the vehicle being very much a Mitsubishi," Mann said.
Mitsubishi expects the other alliance partners to be able to benefit from its expertise, too.
"Mitsubishi ultimately stands for SUV and 4x4," explained Mann. "It's the first thing anyone will say when you ask them about Mitsubishi and we can offer this expertise to the other alliance brands now. We may be a relatively small brand but at the end of the day, we created the EV and we're the leader in PHEVs, and there's no real reason why we're leading in these technologies being so small."
As for future models, Mann revealed that Mitsubishi is in the process of developing its long-range product plan, as well as studying the market to decide where it should go next.
"There are many medium-sized saloons but the trend is to move towards SUVs, and at the moment the profitability of saloons and medium-sized vehicles is squeezed because of this trend," says Mann. "As a brand you need entry vehicles and ideally to be able to bring someone into your brand and walk them through as their lifestyle and finance changes, so we are reviewing our long-range product plan at the moment."
If you look at the target for 2025 of low CO2, Mann says the regulation is just mirroring customer demand, so the brand will continue to work on its electrification strategy, and he hinted that the alliance will adopt the next generation of PHEV technology. "We have the expertise in not just 4x4 but also electrification, so that will bring many benefits to the alliance and future products too," he said.
He also revealed the brands are discussing sharing platforms for the next version of the Mirage. "The next Mirage is not announced yet but we will be converging on platforms using the common module platform (CMF), but that hasn't been decided for sure."
Another thing the brand will work on is extending the range of its Outlander PHEV.
"If you look at the changing regulatory environment there will have to be electrification across the vast majority of countries and segments; so yes, we will use our know-how and expand this technological availability to a broader and broader range of cars. When it comes to all-electric range today an Outlander can run for 50km on pure EV mode before the hybrid takes over and we will extend this to 80-100km which will cover 90-95% of trips. That will be the focus on the next range of Outlander PHEV."
In addition to this, it looks like Mitsubishi will be expanding the availability of electric power throughout its range.
"What we think is we don't need a new nameplate for an EV, we just believe electrification is an additional powertrain," Mann said. "We see that PHEV is suitable for those mid-sized vehicles and electric could suit the lower range of cars going forward in terms of our product plan. That's how we envisage it evolving."