Mitsubishi thinking smaller
Two diminutive imports are on the way, writes PAUL GOVER
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‘‘That car was outdated before we got it; this would be brand new,’’ Unerkov says.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.’’