We’re running, not stopping
Mitsubishi’s boss sees an open road ahead, writes NEIL McDONALD
THE final curtain is closing on Mitsubishi’s Adelaide factory. Gray’s Online has been appointed to manage the sale of plant and equipment. Real estate firm Colliers International is working through sale of the land and buildings.
However, it will be months before anything is finalised, Mitsubishi chief Rob McEniry says.
About 70 employees are left, mostly in the stamping plant, making parts to be stockpiled.
The last 380 V6 went down the line in March, ending an era for the Adelaide-based company.
Dealers still hold stock but McEniry expects very few cars to appear in VFACTS official industry figures from next month.
During its three-year life, the factory built 30,000 380s, which was well short of projected numbers. Buyers turned away from big sixcylinder cars to more fuel-efficient four-cylinder models.
Today, the brand has rebounded from the 380 meltdown and closure of its Adelaide plant.
Despite fears buyers would desert the brand, McEniry says did not happen. He puts that down to Mitsubishi’s strong line-up of imports.
‘‘We do research on pre-2005 and post-2005 attitudes to our product and it has grown, not retreated,’’ he says. ‘‘We should be pretty well positioned in the hotspots of the market as we continue to grow.’’
Mitsubishi also has a strong dealer base. Two new dealers will soon open in Melbourne and possibly another two in Sydney.
‘‘In Queensland we have five applicants for one dealer location,’’ McEniry says.
‘‘We’re confident we’ll continue to perform reasonably well and, importantly, we’re in a good position to ride the ups and downs.’’
McEniry is confident the company will exceed its 2007 figure of 65,000 sales this year. Despite a slowdown in the past few months, he believes the overall market should remain strong for the year.
‘‘You have to look at where the shifts are in each segment,’’ he says. ‘‘Much of the decline involves large cars, not the smaller vehicles and pickups.
‘‘We’re well positioned in those segments now, so we actually see some opportunity.’’
McEniry says the arrival of the Lancer Sportback next month will be beneficial. It is expected to be available in the same specification as the sedan, which means entry ES, mid-range VR and VRX models.
A direct-injection turbo-diesel is also tipped to join the petrol engines in about 18 months. A Ralliart version is also expected to go head to head with the Impreza WRX hatch.
The Ralliart models will be powered by a 177kW/343Nm 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder mated to Mitsubishi’s twin-clutch Sport Shift Transmission.
The Lancer sedan has carved out a niche and Mitsubishi’s four-wheel drives, led by the Triton and Outlander, are forging ahead.
Powering up: Mitsubishi says it is forging ahead despite the closure of its Adelaide manufacturing plant.