Mit­subishi think­ing smaller

Two diminu­tive im­ports are on the way, writes PAUL GOVER

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News -

AUS­TRALIA’S baby boom will soon lead to the birth of two new tiny tykes with Mit­subishi badges. A city run­about and a scaled-down Pa­jero are al­ready built and should be in Aus­tralia within 18 months. Each will cost less than $20,000.

The cars are part of an over­all ob­jec­tive to make Mit­subishi the lead­ing motoring im­porter Down Un­der.

De­tails of the com­pact plan are still se­cret but Mit­subishi is giv­ing early hints.

Paul Un­erkov, vice-pres­i­dent of brand and mar­ket­ing for the com­pany, says: ‘‘Yes, we have a few things com­ing.

‘‘We can see there are op­por­tu­ni­ties with some smaller mod­els.’’

The town car will come first and will be much the same as the plug-in iMiEV, without the bat­ter­ies.

A range of i-car mod­els is in Ja­pan — small hatch­backs and coupes — and the most likely choice for Aus­tralia is a five-door that could cost less than $15,000.

‘‘We have been looking at that seg­ment for some time. That’s a no-brainer,’’ Un­erkov says. But he gives no de­tails on price or on-sale tar­gets, or even the chance for an i-car model change be­fore Aus­tralian sales.

The four-wheel drive would be a po­ten­tial ri­val to the Toy­ota RAV4 and Honda CR-V, but would be very dif­fer­ent from the iO, which failed in Aus­tralia.

‘‘That car was outdated be­fore we got it; this would be brand new,’’ Un­erkov says.

So it’s likely to be a scaled-down Pa­jero with gen­uine rough-road abil­ity, as well as the trendy SUV high-rider cabin.

The size and price fight­ers have the po­ten­tial to boost Mit­subishi sales by more than 300 ve­hi­cles a month and bring in new own­ers at the bot­tom of the range.

It’s an im­por­tant move for the com­pany, which is still work­ing on the right range af­ter the end of lo­cal pro­duc­tion.

It is do­ing well with the Lancer, Tri­ton and Out­lander, even though sales this year are down slightly on the same time last year. The big three are ac­tu­ally in short sup­ply.

The four-wheel drives are also in their fi­nal months be­fore a mid-life tickle.

Mit­subishi spokes­woman Lenore Fletcher says: ‘‘Tri­ton and Out­lander will be up­dated in the third quar­ter.’’

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