Get that F button ready - Mitsubishi in Europe will soon cease to be a thing. The Japanese carmaker has announced a “freeze the introduction of new models to the European market,” and it seems likely this will be a permanent measure.
The current range will remain on sale as long as stock levels and emissions regulations allow, and aftersales for existing models will be unaffected. It’s all part of Mitsubishi’s ‘Small but Beautiful’ three-year business plan, which is all about restructuring the brand’s operations in light of the £1.29 billion loss it made during the first quarter of 2020.
Mitsubishi is targeting a 20 per cent reduction in fixed costs, and aims to focus on the Southeast Asian market, with “developing businesses in Africa, Oceania and South America as the second pillar”. There are plans afoot for new plug-in hybrid and fully electric models, coming in SUV, pickup truck and MPV body styles. Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution fans - it’s probably best you abandon all hope of ever seeing an Evo XI.
Cost-cutting measures in Mitsubishi’s home country have also been deemed necessary to hit that 20 per cent target. R&D spend will be cut, and the Pajero Manufacturing Plant in Sakahogi will close by 2021, two years earlier than previously thought. There are now drastic cash-saving measures in place across all of the Renault, Nissan Mitsubishi Alliance.
Commenting on the measures, Mitsubishi CEO Takao Kato said: “We will shift our strategy from all-round expansion to selection and concentration,” adding, “First of all, we will complete our structural reforms and further strengthen our competitive areas – ultimately to build a corporate structure that can surely generate profits during this mid-term period.”
This may well feel familiar - there’s been an overall trend of the car industry pivoting away from Europe. We’ve had numerous models pulled out of the European market, factory closures, Nissan pulling the plug on Infiniti, and General Motors departing the continent entirely. There isn’t one reason to pin all this on - there are a variety of factors to blame including strict EU emissions regulations, a weakening car market over here and complications surrounding Brexit.