Speaking with Australian media at today’s Tokyo motor show, Mitsubishi managing director of product projects and strategy group Ryugo Nakao confirmed the company’s focus has shifted entirely to hone in on its “core strengths”.
Asked whether the company’s insistence on hybrid and electric vehicles – which to date have not sold as well as expected – came at a risk to its core business, Nakao-san said that the formula for the cars had changed.
“Electric vehicles have not been sold as much as we’d expected,” Nakao-san said.
“Because of three reasons we haven’t seen the success of i-MiEV. Price, running distance and thirdly infrastructure. But our plug-in PHEV system has solved the cruising range and the infrastructure problem, so the remaining issue is the cost.
“If the volume sells… the point is how much volume can be sold to the world as plug-in hybrid [to determine its success]”
Mitsubishi expects to sell 30,000 Outlander PHEV (plug-in hybrid) SUVs globally before the end of Japanese financial year on March 31. The plug-in model is set to launch in Australia in 2014.
Nakao-san said Mitsubishi’s equal partnership deal with Nissan-Renault – another big player in the electric car segment – will see further benefits.
“What kind of component we use is not determined at this moment, we are now [just] starting [to see] what is the best solution for EVs for two makers.”
Mitsubishi’s focus on EVs, PHEVs and SUVs has come at the cost of the next-generation Mitsubishi Lancer as well as the Evolution and Ralliart variants, which all appear to be on hold for the foreseeable future.