Mitsubishi Motors is banking on SUVs as its future, but the company’s operations chief reckons that even some of those high-riding models are on their way out.
Speaking with media in Sydney this week, Trevor Mann, global COO for Mitsubishi Motors, said the large SUV could be on its way out – meaning the Pajero Sport could remain as the biggest SUV you can get from the three-diamond brand when the Pajero (proper!) finally bites the dust.
Mann said there is no set date to wave goodbye to the Pajero, but when talk turned to a possible alliance solution – following the takeover of Mitsubishi by the Renault-Nissan Alliance – for the successors to the Pajero and Nissan’s Patrol (and therefore the Infiniti QX80), it was clear that those sorts of vehicles are on the nose.
“They’re two quite different vehicles: the Pajero is smaller, it’s a monocoque; where the Patrol is a framed vehicle and much bigger,” Mann said.
“That segment, generally, globally, is dying. Obviously it’s being killed by emissions. If you look where the critical mass of those volumes have been, they’ve been in the US and the middle-east,” he said.
“It’s becoming quite prohibitive. What we do in the future is the question,” Mann said, before stating that it was unlikely the company would have an answer at its mid-term strategy announcement later this year.
“I’m not sure it will be determined by October – I’m not sure we’ll have squared that circle by then,” he said, before going on to say that there’s only a half-chance of a replacement for the Pajero, longer term.
“I think it’s probably fifty-fifty, yeah,” he said. “It’s in the balance.
“The current Pajero will continue – we haven’t announced an end of production for the current model,” he said.
Likewise, Mann made it clear that the sedan body-style is very much on the outs.
“It is a global trend – particularly the sedan. The sedan seems to be dying,” he said.
“Hatchback in some areas is having a resurgence, but sedans seem to be dying off, in the US. China is also going more towards SUVs. It tends to be the Africas, Indias, Latin Americas that are still strong in sedan vehicles,” he said.
Those developing markets do tend to see sedans as status objects, adding to their desirability, but Mann was quick to make sure that the importance of vehicles like the Lancer aren’t understated too soon.
“If you look at the US and China, it’s still a significant part of their industry. Similar to like it is in Australia, but like 20 times the scale. There are still relatively large volumes,” he said about sedans.