Mitsubishi eyes all-time record
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.