Mitsubishi plans to boost European sales of its Canter small truck by adopting the engine-ahead-of-driver 'semi-cab' layout popular on the continent.

The Canter currently has what Mitsubishi calls a 'full-cab' layout where the driver sits above the engine. This design is popular in Japan for both light trucks and one-box vans, like Mitsubishi's L300, because vehicles take up less road space in relation to a given load capacity.

However, as there is no engine and bonnet up front, the driver is at greater risk of injury in a crash.

Mitsubishi says semi-cab truck and van layouts are more common in Europe and North America because they have lower seat positions so a driver can more easily get in or out.

Toyota concurs by building a special 'bonneted' Hiace van only for European markets.

Mitsubishi expects that the rapidly ageing population in Japan will appreciate the easier access offered by the next Canter's semi-cab layout and also expects to increase sales in Japan and overseas.

Mitsubishi's part-owner DaimlerChrysler already has a good lineup of (Mercedes-Benz Vito and Sprinter) semi-cab small vans and trucks and the Japanese company plans to combine its full-cab small truck experience with Mercedes' semi-cab layout know-how.

Mitsubishi also plans to introduce a new range of full-cab trucks to supplement the forthcoming semi-cab Canter.


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