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New product to boost Mitsubishi's fleet appeal

Date: 08 March 2016   |   Author: Tristan Young

Mitsubishi is working to a five-year model plan that will see one all-new car launched every year, with fleet playing an increasingly important part of the brand's sales mix.

Speaking exclusively to BusinessCar, Mitsubishi's UK managing director Lance Bradley said 2015 saw a 44% rise in registrations: "That makes us the fastest-growing brand for the past three years, with 2013 seeing 38% growth and 2014 with 75%.

"In the next five years we will continue to grow, and we expect to get to 45,000 within three to four years. The growth will come from new product and brand building. By 2021 we will have a new small SUV, a new mid-size SUV, Outlander replacement, Shogun Sport and a new Shogun-sized vehicle."

Last year, Mitsubishi registered almost 23,000 cars - excluding pick-ups.

It is currently running at a fleet split of 40%; however, Bradley pointed out, the Outlander is at 60%, and while for the L200 its dealers tick the 'retail' box when registering a pick-up to owner-operator buyers, these are almost all business purchases.

"Fleet will play into the five-year plan in an increasingly important way," said Bradley. "With more PHEVs and EVs on their way and as they have longer EV ranges, so they become more practical to fleet users, plus, with the benefit-in-kind tax regime, obviously that makes them very attractive vehicles.

You have to remember the Outlander is D-segment [upper medium] and that's not the biggest segment, so with a C-segment [lower medium] PHEV this is going to be a big opportunity for us and a driver of our volume growth. That car is expected in 2017."

Mitsubishi is also looking to bring the L200-based Shogun Sport to the UK. The firm's Japanese headquarters is planning to launch it across the European region, as a whole, through full type-approval. However, Bradley wants to get the car sooner than this method will allow.

"We're looking to bring the Shogun Sport into the UK under single vehicle type-approval," he said. "We're hoping for this year, in terms of timing, but it's at least six months away. And we're not limited by numbers in this way either."

The Shogun Sport would give Mitsubishi a rugged car version of the L200 that would appeal to both small businesses needing a robust 4x4 vehicle with vast boot space and to larger fleets working in remote areas or on building sites.

Alongside the increase in fleet business and the expanded model range, Mitsubishi also aims to raise its brand desirability. Bradley said he aimed to move the company closer to Volvo and Land Rover in this respect, and hinted Mitsubishi was working on sponsorships and partnerships to achieve this.