So far, the turnaround of Mitsubishi Motors under Nissan Motor is encouraging. In fiscal 2018-2019, sales were up by 14.7 per cent to 1,244,000 vehicles, profit improved, reaching JPY111.8bn, and the company achieved an operating margin of 4.4 per cent. As MMC’s ties to the Alliance deepen, what future models will the company’s plants in Japan, China, Thailand, The Philippines, Indonesia and Russia be producing to help reach an inevitable mid-term target of 1.5m vehicles per year in the 2020s?
Mitsubishi Motors and the Renault-Nissan Alliance issued a statement to the media in November 2013 concerning a proposed expansion of NMKV, their mini-vehicle manufacturing joint venture.
The companies said at the time that they would “co-develop a new small-segment car including a specific electric version that can be sold globally. The basis for this product will be from a jointly-developed ‘Kei car’ platform of the type popular in the Japanese domestic market. Further details of all products, markets and manufacturing will be announced separately”. The plug-in car will be the replacement for the decade-old i-MiEV but rather than a five-door hatchback, some believe the vehicle will be a mini-SUV.
MMC told the media in October 2017 that a kei EV would not now be released until 2020.
The Mirage, another A segment model, albeit one that is powered only by petrol engines, is in the final phase of its life cycle. Production began in 2012. Mitsubishi’s third Thai plant builds the car for all markets and there is also a sedan, which is called Attrage or Mirage G4 in some countries. Also, the hatchback wears Space Star badges in certain markets.
MMPC (Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation) added assembly of the Mirage G4 at its plant during February 2017 followed by the Mirage three months later. This facility has an annual capacity of 50,000 units.
The two plants which build or assemble these small cars will switch over to the production of a new generation range in 2020. Both sedan and hatchback are highly likely to use the Alliance’s low-cost CMF-A architecture.
MMC is absent from the global B segment, however, the company is said to be part of a programme which will see the architecture of the second generation Renault Zoe shared with the Alliance. See the Electrified section below for further details. Some also believe that a non-EV could be built in France at Renault’s Flins plant as a way of lifting production there: the Flins-made Nissan Micra has not sold nearly as well as Nissan Europe had hoped.
Currently, the next largest model above the 3.7m long Mirage/G4 is the Grand Lancer, a car which is specific to China and Taiwan. This heavily modified version of the previous Lancer has been sold in both countries since late 2017. Mitsubishi seems unlikely to sell the C segment sedan for too many years. Instead, the Grand Lancer is likely to be replaced in the early 2020s by a truly new model based upon the Renault-Nissan Alliance’s CMF-C/D architecture.
The latest ASX (RVR or Outlander Sport in some countries), which was a third facelift for a model which dates to early 2010, was announced to the media a few weeks in advance of its world debut at the Geneva motor show in March. The replacement is still two years away. Unlike the existing ASX, the next one will use a Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi architecture.
Slipped into the size gap between the Outlander Sport and the Outlander, the 4.4m long Eclipse Cross has become a global success since its arrival in late 2017. Production takes place at the Okazaki plant in Japan, with a second build location, Changsha (China) coming on line last August.
There are two petrol engines: 4B11 and 4B40. The first has a capacity of 1,998cc and outputs of 110kW and 192Nm, while the 1,499c turbocharged 4B40 has the same power but 250Nm of torque. A CVT with eight pre-programmed steps is standard for the 2.0-litre and optional for the 1.6 turbo. The smaller capacity unit can alternatively be ordered with a six-speed manual gearbox. All-wheel drive is solely for variants with the CVT. A diesel was announced in January for certain countries. It is linked to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
A facelift for the Eclipse Cross is scheduled for 2021 with the second generation model expected in 2024. The current model uses an updated version of Mitsubishi’s now aged C platform but the successor will be based on an Alliance architecture, most likely the next iteration of CMF-C/D.
The fourth generation Outlander should be released during the second half of 2020. It is expected to be larger and it will be based on a Renault-Nissan Alliance architecture. Some of the styling influences should be from the GT-PHEV concept which premiered at the 2016 Paris motor show as well as from the Engelberg Tourer, a concept which debuted at the 2019 Geneva motor show (see image). Expect a life cycle of seven to eight years.
There have been many, many delays for a project to replace the soon to be discontinued Pajero, the large ladder frame SUV which won’t quite make twenty years of production. This model is also called Montero and before it was discontinued in the UK, Shogun. A successor is not expected until late 2020 or possibly later. As has been the case for decades, Japanese production should be at Pajero Manufacturing Co., Ltd.
The next Pajero might share its architecture with the replacements for the Nissan Patrol and Infiniti QX80. That could turn out to be the same platform as the one developed by Mitsubishi Motors for multiple ladder-frame pick-up trucks such as the L200, Frontier and Alaskan successors.
There are several people carriers in MMC’s line-up. Easily the most important one is the Xpander, particularly as the company spent the equivalent of US$600m on a new plant in Jakarta’s satellite city Bekasi to build this model. The factory, which opened in April 2017, raised the carmaker’s overall Indonesian production capacity to 240,000 units per year.
The Xpander’s styling was previewed by both the Concept AR from the 2014 Geneva motor show and the XM, a second concept which was revealed at the Jakarta motor show in August 2016. The XM would be revealed in early August 2017, MMC then announced. This was at the Jakarta motor show. The 4,475mm long Xpander went into production in October 2017.
This purpose-designed vehicle began to be exported to neighbouring ASEAN markets, including The Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam from February 2018. Six months later, MMC stated that it would lift the annual rate of production to 120,000 units and that it also hoped to raise this by a further 30,000 units a year in fiscal 2019. Then in October 2018, MMC stated that it would be increasing capacity to 220,000 units per annum by 2020. Of that total, the Xpander line would make up 160,000 units compared to 115,000 at the time of the announcement. This plant also now makes a model based on the Xpander for Nissan, the new generation Grand Livina.
There will probably be two facelifts for the Xpander during what should be a decade-long production life. The first one is due in 2021 and the second in 2024, with the successor set to appear in 2027.
As well as an A segment model to replace the i-MiEV, there should be another small EV for the Mitsubishi line-up in 2020. This B-segment electric car would be larger and is said to be under development in parallel with the next generation Renault Zoe. It might instead be added in 2021.
The Eupheme is a special model for China. This SUV was announced by Mitsubishi Motors in February 2018, at first as a plug-in hybrid.
On sale in March 2018, the 4,510mm long Eupheme PHEV is manufactured by GMMC, the joint venture between MMC and Guangzhou Automobile Group. The vehicle was designed by GAC and it is built at GMMC’s Changsha plant in Hunan. It is linked closely to the GAC Trumpchi GS4. The powertrain consists of a 95hp and 120Nm 1.5-litre Atkinson cycle petrol engine which is supported by a 174hp (130kW) and 300Nm motor.
In October 2018, GMMC announced the Eupheme EV. This model is smaller than the Eupheme PHEV as it is instead based on the GAC Trumpchi GS3. The joint venture claimed at that time that the model had a maximum range of 455km or 255 miles.
The second generation Outlander plug-in hybrid is set to become available in late 2020. The platform will most likely be the R-N-M Alliance’s CMF-C/D.
The powertrain is expected to have been previewed by the Engelberg Tourer, a concept revealed at the 2019 Geneva motor show. That used MMC’s 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine in combination with one motor for the front axle and another at the rear. On the Engelberg (named after a Swiss winter sports resort), the battery was positioned in the middle of the vehicle so that there was room for three rows of seating.
The concept’s electric range was claimed to be 70km (43 miles) on the European WLTP cycle. With a charged battery and full tank of fuel, the maximum range was said to be up to 700km.
Reports for many other manufacturers’ future models are grouped in the OEM product strategy summaries section of just-auto.com.
Future product program intelligence
More detail on past, current and forthcoming models can be found in PLDB, the future vehicles database which is part of QUBE. Certain Mitsubishi models which do not appear in the above future models report are listed in PLDB. Examples including the eK Wagon, eK X, eK Space, Colt Plus, L200/Triton, Outlander PHEV, Pajero Sport, Delica D:3 and Delica D:5.
Mitsubishi Motors was the final brand to be featured as part of the Groupe Renault and Nissan Motor series. Other makes were Alpine and Renault, Dacia, Renault-Samsung, Lada, Datsun, Venucia, Infiniti and Nissan. The next OEM to be covered will be JAC.