Mit­subishi eyes all-time record

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Motoring -

Mit­subishi Mo­tors Aus­tralia Lim­ited is on the cusp of achiev­ing a sales record in 2018, with the Ja­panese car-maker mak­ing its pres­ence felt as a top-five brand Down Un­der.

With just weeks to go un­til the end of the year, Mit­subishi has recorded 77,638 sales so far, keep­ing it well in­side the top five be­hind Toy­ota, 201,070, Mazda, 103,151, and Hyundai, 88,421.

Mit­subishi – which was a lo­cal man­u­fac­turer un­til it closed its Ade­laide fac­tory in 2008 – now holds a sig­nif­i­cant lead over two other for­mer Aus­tralian man­u­fac­tur­ers, Ford, 63,851, and Holden, 55,929.

Speak­ing with jour­nal­ists at a me­dia event in Mel­bourne last week, Mit­subishi Mo­tors Asus­tralia Lim­ited chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer Tony Principe said the com­pany was on track to hit an all-time high in 2018, pro­vid­ing the mar­ket re­mained sta­ble this month.

“We have got a pretty healthy gap now over Ford and Holden,” he said.

“And that share is ob­vi­ously go­ing up. Our record an­nual was back in 1998, with 81,651 units.

“We are sit­ting on 77,638. We hope to get about six to seven thou­sand in De­cem­ber.

“That de­pends on what hap­pens – the mar­ket does seem to be drop- ping fairly quickly. That will take us to some­where around 83,000, which will be an all-time record for us in Aus­tralia.”

Mit­subishi’s sales took a hit when the fac­tory was closed in 2008 – its tally dropped to 56,998 in 2009 – and af­ter a few bumpy years, it has been on an up­ward tra­jec­tory ever since.

Its year-to-date 2018 sales are 8.4 per­cent ahead of the same pe­riod in 2017.

Mr Principe said Mit­subishi was num­ber three in terms of SUV sales, trail­ing Toy­ota, 76,078, and Mazda, 48,244, al­though with 47,888 units to the end of Novem­ber, Mit­subishi is gain­ing on Mazda fast.

It is also third over­all in the light­com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle seg­ment, with 22,896 units, be­hind Toy­ota, 66,345, and Ford, 40,544.

Mit­subishi’s only LCV of­fer­ing is the Tri­ton pick-up, while both Toy­ota and Ford of­fer mul­ti­ple LCV mod­els, in­clud­ing vans.

Mr Principe said stock of the dis­con­tin­ued Lancer small car would dry up some­time in the first quar­ter of 2019, leav­ing the Mi­rage city hatch as its only pas­sen­ger car of­fer­ing.

He said pas­sen­ger cars cur­rently made up about 10 per­cent of Mit­subishi’s over­all vol­ume in Aus­tralia at the mo­ment, but when the Lancer runs out that will drop to about five per­cent.

Mr Principe said he ex­pected the over­all Aus­tralian new-ve­hi­cle mar­ket to re­main flat in 2019, and de­scribed the eco­nomic cli­mate as ‘quite un­sta­ble’.

“Con­sumer con­fi­dence seems to be drop­ping,” he said.

“Hous­ing prices are ob­vi­ously top of mind, par­tic­u­larly in Syd­ney and Mel­bourne, and it is caus­ing peo­ple to get a lit­tle bit ner­vous.

“But I guess at this stage we think maybe we hope it will flat­ten out.

“Next year pas­sen­ger sales will keep drop­ping, SUV will grow a lit­tle bit and LCV will grow a lit­tle bit.”

Mit­subishi’s most im­por­tant new­model launch next year will be the heav­ily re­vised Tri­ton pick-up that hits show­rooms in early Jan­uary.

The new model was re­vealed in early Novem­ber and ush­ers in a bold new front-end de­sign and an in­crease in com­fort and safety gear.

Mit­subishi has also con­firmed it will launch Black Edi­tion ver­sions of its Mi­rage hatch, Eclipse Cross small SUV, Out­lander mid-size SUV and the Pa­jero Sport large SUV.

So far pric­ing has only been re­leased for the Out­lander Black Edi­tion – which adds black ex­te­rior flour­ishes – and it starts at $32,890 ex­clud­ing on-road costs for the two-wheel drive and $35,390 for the all-wheel drive.

COM­ING SOON: Mit­subishi will launch its heav­ily re­vised Tri­ton in the first quar­ter of 2019.

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