MMC will launch eight new hybrid, plug-in hybrid and full electric vehicles by the 2015 financial year, with the aim to reduce its reliance on conventional combustion engines and reduce the environmental impact of its fleet.
Among those vehicles will be a commercial mini EV for Japan in 2011 and plug-in hybrids for Japan, the US and Europe by 2012, with a ‘new energy’ production ratio of at least five percent by 2015.
There will also be an emphasis on improving battery energy density, developing lightweight parts (especially for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles), improving the environmental credentials of its petrol and clean diesel engines and launching an eco-driving support system for its range.
Mitsubishi Motors Australia’s Lenore Fletcher said although Australia was not specifically mentioned in the business plan, the local market was very much a part of the product plans going forward.
“Australia is a significant market for Mitsubishi in terms of profitability and product volume,” Ms Fletcher said.“Whatever is designed, especially for Japan and Europe, we will certainly take a very good look at.”
The Japanese company has made its intentions very clear that it will keep its business resources focused on “globally strategic models such as compact cars and SUVs”.
“Both development process and product range will be streamlined by discontinuing region-specific model production,” says the MMC statement.
This has already happened in Australia, with the Mitsubishi 380 phased out early in 2008. It is also likely to spell the end for the Galant, Endeavour and Eclipse models in the US.
With the introduction of fuel efficient and affordable new vehicles, MMC has set its sights on increasing 2013 financial year sales to 1.37 million units – up from an estimated one million in the 2010 financial year.
To strengthen production, a third plant will be built in Thailand to produce the global small vehicle, MMC China will reinforce a joint venture with a local partner, and production capacity at its Japanese, US and European hubs will be optimised.
A new SUV will be manufactured in Russia, a joint venture with Nissan will give birth to a new minicar, and the US hub will introduce a new model for global export.
MMC has also announced it will not introduce a successor to the region-specific Colt for Europe. Despite this, Ms Fletcher said the Australian-specification Colt was not necessarily destined for the same demise.
“I wouldn’t say that categorically. There are lots of things on the drawing board at the moment, and I wouldn’t rule anything out.”
MMC says along with its ongoing alliance with PSA Peugeot Citroen and expanded business cooperation with Nissan, it will act to form new alliances and business partners in individual project areas with foreseeable merits.